I had the worst time finding actually helpful information on teaching our son to potty train. I read books, had a full on potty party – that I prepped for days on, consistently tried to re-approach the topic by having potties all over our house as well as the grandparents houses and reading him kids’ books on going potty. We would try and fail – try and fail – it was very frustrating with no breakthrough moments. Carl did not care if he was wet and dirty at all so that was no incentive at all. We made a huge potty training push with the potty party right after he turned 3 with little to no results. He would sit on the potty but not go on command. Just sit there and wait for it to happen for 30 minutes sometimes. If I caught him pooping I could get him to the potty but that was all on me – he would go but he did not take the initiative to go on his own. For these attempts he was wearing underwear.
I felt stuck – at a standstill and majorly stressed out.
When Carl was a baby sleep training was hard but I got results right away with consistent work. We worked with him on his skiing, found solutions and we got results – even though he hated putting his gear on at first and could be difficult at times. At gymnastics he earns fruit snacks for listening and at speech therapy he is working hard and making progress. Why such a standstill with potty training? Why so much anxiety attached to it?
Carl had been wearing a pull-up to preschool all year. He had trouble getting to the bathroom because he did not want to stop the activity he was doing. We struggled with this one – BIG TIME. Once I had to go to pre-school to change him as he had pooped his pants, other times I would pick him up and he was very wet. Most times he had peed but not a ton. It was very difficult to know what to do. He was ready for pre-school mentally but was having such a hard time with the potty.
One day I went to pick Carl up from school and he had wet through his pull up. The teacher had taken him to the bathroom and he pretended he didn’t know how to use the potty. The teacher talked to me about it and I just broke down (which is not like me – I am not a crier) It was so embarrassing. We had been trying so hard with no success for so long and I needed help. I wrote the teacher and email later and told her we would commit the FULL 3 day weekend to potty training. I felt so bad I had broken down – very much a low point in my mom life.
I felt helpless.
I desperately polled my Facebook friends for ideas. I needed HELP. (See what they had to say here!)
I expected to receive a few comments, and I would have been happy with that, but, instead I got 50 comments in 2 hours – 61 total as well as texts, emails and face to face conversations with ideas. It seems that other people have been in the same boat – thank goodness that they were willing to help! I also told Ryan that I majorly needed help with this one. I could not do it on my own, it was really hard for me. This was helpful and he worked with me to make sure it was a success.
Potty Training Plan
So, I took all the comments from friends and formulated a plan I thought would work for Carl as to what motivates him. All week Ryan and I told Carl that ‘On Friday you will start potty training – big boys are potty trained and you will be too‘ – he was not thrilled but it was good for him to know. Then once Friday arrived I fed him breakfast put his pull up on him and said ‘this is the last daytime pull up from now on‘. We hoped in the car and went to the store to pick out treats for Carl to earn. I had him pick out juice boxes, popsicles and the kinds of candy he wanted. It was really good to go to the store with him as he picked out things I would not have even looked at. He spied a spider man juice on the top shelf he wanted, that I was able to wash and re-fill, and jelly bean popsicles – they looked disgusting to me but were hugely motivating to him.
We headed home where I striped him down to just a tee shirt and fully naked on the bottom. He was able to roam free from outside to inside – potties inside were very available and outside he could just go. We have wood floors, so that helped, and I covered the couch with a shower curtain and easily washable blanket on top. We were committed. By 2pm we had 8 successes and 4 accidents. He was not super thrilled – one fail was right next to the potty and another he had run upstairs as he was over it and was trying to put a diaper on himself. Once I offered him a treat and he wanted me to put a diaper on him as the reward – it was hard for him. He spent an hour caring his favorite pj pants and a diaper around the house wanting me to put them on him. I told him ‘no more diapers’ and he lead me upstairs to open the closet door and show me that I had the pantry fully stocked with diapers and pull-ups and that we were not out. I just tried to stay positive and told him we were done with diapers – only unders now. I also experienced 3 tantrums which I texted Ryan about and he encouraged me to press on. It is really helpful to have both parents working on the project as it is overwhelming at times.
He was earning popsicles mostly a little bit of candy – he preferred popsicles as treats – the juice boxes were fair game to keep him flowing.
We headed up to a friend’s house to play with her boys and he continued there with unders on now – lots of fails and one success. He did hold his pee the entire time in the car both ways – so little successes all the time. It was helpful because his friend Dash showed him how to pee outside and he applied that at home. Dash also showed us that he was wearing big boy underwear.
One Step at a Time
We kept him in a pull up/ diaper at night as I felt it was best to make sure he got a good night’s sleep. I think it is best to separate the sleep potty training out so that there is not so much stress at once. He can hold it all night so in a few weeks we can work on tackling that.
The next day he only had one accident and the following day -same – just one. Carl woke up sick on Monday so we kept him home and stayed on it then headed to Seattle to visit my mom while Ryan was in Park City for work. My mom gave Carl more underwear and had ordered a gumball machine that he could earn a penny for going potty. He loved it – so motivated by it.
I also put a pull up/ diaper on him in the 2.5 hour car ride to Seattle as I wasn’t sure how that would go. He held it the whole way and he peed when we got to my mom’s house. I plan to put one on him in the airport too for trips as it will be hard to find a potty at times. He did not regress when the pull up went on as I feared he might – I explained it was ‘just in case’ and just for ‘this one time’.
My mom and I had lots of fun things we wanted to do in Seattle so I loaded up a tote bag full of unders and a changes of clothes. We helped him use public bathrooms and he stayed dry – great way to learn to apply the skill. We took Carl to the zoo which he LOVES and continued on. We knew the worst thing that could happen was an accident but he made it through no problem with one bathroom break. We took Carl out to walk the dogs anything to give him an incentive to have to go pee and then hold it while we were out – then go again when we got back.
I also frequently reminded Carl that the potty was right there and when he needed to go to be sure to get on it and then he would earn a treat.
The major thing that was different from last time we potty trained was that when he was naked almost for the whole 1st 3 days so he learned how it felt when he had to go. Grabbing his privates and racing the potty. It was huge for us. He is also 9 months into being 3 which did not hurt vs. just being 3 like the last time we tried. We slowly added the unders into the picture and then pants that were easy to get on and off. For him it was a pair of Hannah Anderson sweatpants. Then as the days continued he began getting to the potty himself and being able work the unders and clothes up and down too. Little things but huge strides. We also made him go every hour or so just to be sure or if he had a juice box about 10 minutes later.
Potty Training Success
We are now into our 6th day of potty training and we have re-enforced EVERY single time he has gone potty with a sugary treat. We have noticed that he is getting really hyper in the afternoon and losing his appetite so we are weaning off the sugar and going to intermittently re-enforce his success with treats but always major verbal praise. My mom and I have had many conversations in front of Carl about how great he is doing and how proud of him we are – this he seems to like and helps too.
Reward, reward, reward and understand it will be a process. When I knew I had 3 days committed to make sure it happened it was much more relaxed and a journey than trying to force it in one or a little at a time.
If you need any potty training incentives – Grandpa Shorter’s has everything you will ever need. Take your child to pick out their prizes so they really want them. Find their currency.
I really want to thank everyone who gave us their wisdom. It made it happen – you made our journey a success – I took something from everyone for our plan. Nakedness was the start.
I hope this blog helps someone else so please share – It is a scary place to start this process. If you fail the first time – wait a bit and then try, try again.
Until Next Time,
West Coast Shorter Wife