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Game of Potties

There are lots of methods about potty training your children from blocking your agendas for a week, stacking up your fridge and locking yourselves in the living room – to holding your baby on top of the toilet and whistling. Whatever your method ends up being, the warmer months are possibly the most auspicious time of the year to do so. Accidents are much easier to clean up and you don’t have to worry about your children not wearing enough, or wetting their pants when it’s freezing cold.

I remember hearing about six-month-old babies being potty trained when my daughter was a few years old. To me that seemed like a distant dream and now as a mother of three, I can admit that’s what it was for us: a far fetched fantasy, not our cup of pee tea. Our process of potty training didn’t include locking ourselves in, shushing or whistling to encourage the flow, but it included so many other phases.

One of my kids never used a potty. They went straight for the toilet, but I didn’t realize this was the problem until a long time trying to get them accustomed to the potty. Once I had to put them on the toilet, it became clear that that was their thing and the potty went completely unused for them. But even so, a sticker chart was needed on the toilet door.

When I was potty training one of my other kids the first time around (when they were under two years of age), I thought it was never going to work. I shared my worries with my sister-in-law, who is my personal expert in all children related matters. She told me my best piece of advice that I ever received about potty training: don’t rush it. When the child is ready, it’ll happen quickly. I would keep on trying to put my kid on the potty in the evenings and before bath, but only when they were three and half, they caught on the rhythm and it all happened within a week. Phew, just in time for school.

IMG_20160905_215248Somehow with all of my kids they have shed the diapers within a week. This doesn’t mean that we haven’t had accidents, but those are a natural part of the process. It means we have first stopped using diapers at home, then outside home and then in the night, all within a week and never had major setbacks. I understand we just might be lucky and I acknowledge that this isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, but here’s a list of how we did it. Note that even with my kids, we had to do it all through trial and error.

  1. Don’t rush it. It’ll happen much easier when the child is ready. Being ready might mean they are getting interested in the toilet. They might want to look at the toilet or the potty, perhaps sit on it for a while with their diaper on (later without). Perhaps they are telling you in their own way that they are about to go. All my kids were rather old in today’s standards to be fully potty-trained, but then again none of them made a fuzz about it. It just happened.
  2. Find what your child gravitates towards to. It could be the potty, or maybe they have their eye on the training ring on the toilet. Some don’t want any of this and want to sit on toilet like the giant person they already feel they are.
  3. When the child manages to go onto the potty or toilet for the very first time, even if it’s very little, make a huge deal about it. Celebrate, cheer, clap your hands. Remember to encourage them each time they even give it a try, and when something happens, take it up a notch. Perhaps my youngest was the easiest, because he had an actual crowd clapping and chanting his name between the toilet door and he smiled like a king on his throne after we acknowledged his efforts.
  4. Bribing is okay. We have bribed our children with stickers and small presents. When each of them have made a bigger number on the toilet for the first time, we have taken them to the toy store to choose a small toy. This has encouraged them further to use the toilet. Or maybe it didn’t, but we felt we were doing something right and they gained a trip to the toy store.
  5. Whenever accidents happen, shrug it off. It’s no big deal, these things happen honey. Making a big deal about an accident might block the child further from performing.

Whatever your method is, whether you experiment with more or find yours right away, know that eventually it’ll happen and one day the act of changing a diaper will be a distant memory that you might end up missing while cleaning the toilet the tenth time that day…

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Tarja Van Veldhoven

Finnish-Delftian mom of three, married to a Dutch man with a decade long blogging history.

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3 comments

  1. Loved this: “like the giant person they already feel they are” 😀 😀 Hahaha! So true!
    We did have a setback, with my first born – and when I’ve “let it go”, and didn’t give any attention to it – it was all alright and the course corrected itself.
    The stickers too did gave great motivation, we still use a sheet with numbers for other matters (like getting ready for school alone and such), and each time they reach 10, 20, 30 they get a silly little present (can be a sticker tattoo too, something we don’t do every day).
    Even when it didn’t exactly go as planned we would give a sticker, because it was a good try, whatever the results. I really like this positive way of doing things, it’s very friendly.

  2. Sandra says:

    Same here! I could have written this down, except I’ve potty trained only one child. Don’t rush it. He was almost 3 and we gave up diapers in 3 days… we’re taking it slow during the night though and he wears one to bed. He ends up using the same diaper for like 10 days until it doesn’t stick anymore, meaning he is practically PT by night but as we co-sleep we really don’t want night time accidents haha

  3. Eva says:

    Great advice! I am trying to make a “queen” out of my princess, but as said in the article.. Don’t rushing it may do the trick 🙂 thanks for the lovely post!

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