What does potty training have to do with pregnancy? Everything, in my home. In fact, pregnancy is my number one motivator to either start or wrap up the potty training business for the littlest one in the house. This time around was no different.
Dragonfly showed signs of readiness right before he turned two but I didn’t have the energy to take him any further. I kept the thought of potty training on my long to do list. That is until I found out I was pregnant. I can’t ever imagine having two children in diapers at the same time. Nor would I have the stamina to potty train with a new born in tote. Needless to say, potty training soon became a top priority for the entire family.
I believe the best time to start potty training is when you’re ready and the child has shown signs of interest/readiness. There is no magical number and I would never advise a mom to rush it or make her feel like a failure for waiting too long.
Having said that, my children are usually at the age of two and have already shown signs of readiness when I decide to start potty training . Rose was an exceptional case. She decided that she was a big girl at age 1.5 and started using the potty on her own. Some of those signs include, not liking the feel of a wet diaper, signaling that they’re about to go potty, and consistently waking up with a dry diaper after bed time. The last one is key for me, I figure if they can sleep without going potty, they can learn to control it at other times of the day.
Here are my key tips that have helped me successfully potty train* four children within 2 weeks.
- Make it a family affair
- Become all or nothing
- Use a timer
- Prepare for accidents
- Use positive
- Reward with a sweet treat (Yes, bribe the child)
*This does not mean that you will be permanently accident free. I declare potty training success when the child can tell you that he has to go potty before an accident and when the number of incidents of potty in the potty far outweigh potty elsewhere.
Make it a family affair
That’s right, the ENTIRE family. Potty training in my home is a family affair. It’s been that way since I had only one child. Pretty much everything in my home is a family affair – it’s what works for us. It helps that we homeschool and Dad works out of the house. I don’t think that I would have the same success with potty training if Dad and the siblings didn’t commit to helping.
Each member for the family must take on a task.
Become all or nothing
Potty training in my home is all or nothing. I don’t use diapers or pull-ups during the day while at home. I will occasionally use pull-ups when traveling but I always put underwear over the pull-up. That leaves the little one in their birthday suite for majority of the day. I’m not opposed to pull-ups or even a diaper during bed time but that’s usually not needed for us since I wait to potty train until the child can go through the night with a clean diaper. Also, most of my kids didn’t like the feel of diapers once they would go the whole day without one.
Another tip is to limit the supply of diapers in the house so that there are no temptations to take the easy road and diaper – I speak from experience.
The timer is another key tool for potty training, all training in my home for that matter. My mother used it when I was young and I’ve used it in my home since Rose was a baby. It serves as a reminder for child and parent. It also helps the child get a grasp on time. More importantly, the timer can’t be argued with!
I start potty training with the timer set for smaller increments of time, five-eight minutes. I take the child to the restroom at the beep of the timer. I say something like, “It’s time to go potty – yeah.” or, “Let’s go potty.” I never ask the child if he has to go potty, at least not at this stage in the game.
I will take the child potty when I see the potty sign coming on. Every child has one. It’s been different for each of my children but it’s always been one of the following:
- facial expression
- grabbing at private area
- retreating to a private place
The time increments of the timer should increase when you see improvements in the child’s reception of potty training, to the point when the child signals you that he has to go potty. At which point, the timer can be done away.
It is helpful to reintroduce the timer if there is a regression during potty training.
Family affair – I usually put a dependable child on timer duty. That child serves as my secondary reminder. The nearest sibling or parent must take the child potty when the timer rings or spots a potty sign. Even the child who is two years older can guide the potty training child to the restroom and call for help.
Prepare for accidents
I always tease that I don’t need a puppy when I have a child potty training. That’s right, it’s inevitable, accidents will happen. Being prepared for the accident is key. Have the necessary clean-up supplies on hand in a easy to reach spot. I prefer a caddy or basket that even the smallest child can fetch when needed.
I almost always have the potty training child help with clean-up. Each of my kids would throw away their own diaper when old enough to walk, I see this as being no different.
Family affair – The rule is, you’re responsible to help with clean-up if the accident happens in your vicinity or on your watch. This rule applies to everyone in the home. It keeps us accountable and gives us an incentive to be tuned into the
little leak machine potty training child.
peer sibling pressure
The siblings are generally each other’s number one fans, with the little ones idolizing the older ones. I hone in on this fact during potty training time. All the siblings must cheer and root for the potty training child. I’m talking in a vocal way. They must shout songs of praise, clap, cheer, and offer what other fun noise that they like to make in celebration. Simple words of praise go a long way for the little one.
- Good job brother!
- YEAAAAAAAA Dragonfly!
- WHOOT WHOOT!
Hugs and kisses come without encouragement.
Reward with a sweet treat (Yes, bribe the child.)
I’m not afraid to say it, I use bribery when it comes to potty training. I guess I could call it “positive reinforcement” if I were trying to be PC. Bribery, it is!
I buy a special treat that is not stocked in the home on a regular basis, something that suits the child’s preference. In the past it’s been either M&Ms or Jelly Belly candies. This time around I struggled a bit since we have gone clean with our diet. In the end, I decided that I couldn’t deprive my little guy of this right of passage in my home – candy for going potty.
The treats of choice this time around were Sour Beans, Gummy Bears, and Lollipops. All the treats are made by Yummy Earth. They’re organic and gluten free.
Here’s how it works. The child goes potty. It most be a legitimate use of the potty not just a sight seeing visit or test drive.
Once the potty business is done, I (or whoever took him potty) parades him to the treat area. All the siblings are rallied, “Come on….., Dragonfly went potty in the potty!” They all run in with shouts of joy, “WHOOT WHOOT! Potty in the potty, potty in the potty! YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH Dragonfly!”
The siblings line up so that the potty training child can pass out his treats – one for each sibling. But before the sibling can receive the treat, he must give another sign or shout of praise to the successful potty trainer. The potty training child can enjoy his treat once his goodies have been distributed.
The lollipops are used for #2, “poo-poo on the potty!” The same steps above are followed.
Treating all the siblings to this treat is key. Everyone has something to look forward to when a little one starts potty training in the home. It helps them to become invested in the success of their sibling. Even the seventeen year old and the dog get in on the action!
(I hope to dig up a pic of this cute scene of my four children and chocolate lab lined up at the feet of a two year old with candy.)
I would be happy to answer any questions about what has worked in my home. Also, I would be delighted to hear your #1 potty training tip. Leave a comment or drop me an email.