My three-year-old is fully potty trained. During the day. Oh, did you think night training happened with day training? That’s a potty training myth. There are lots of them. Some of them are so fantastical I actually laugh when someone says it. Not always to their face. But sometimes I can’t help it.
The value in knowing the truth is you can be prepared for reality. And even more important, lose the feeling you are doing something wrong when your toddler isn’t potty training according to the script.
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The Top 5 Potty Training Myths
1. Potty Training in a Day
Ha ha ha ha ha!
I was going to leave it at that, but I guess I should elaborate. You cannot potty train a kid in one day. Or three days, or a week, or whatever the catchy title of your potty training book is promising. I should know, I read several of them. My daughter took closer to six months. Even with the tried and true three-day intensive start method.
My daughter understood the concept of potty training after one intensive toilet training weekend. She just didn’t care. Or was too busy playing. Or was being stubborn. Or, or, or a million other reasons cooperation was not always to be had.
We even had a potty party to celebrate her completion of toilet training. Many people assured me this was foolproof. These people had not tried toilet training my daughter.
Many books or articles promising a specific time frame for potty training have a lot of great ideas for getting started. And you can definitely take a day or three to get an intense jump-start on your toddler’s toilet training. Just don’t expect at the end of the weekend you will be diaper and accident-free from then on. Major life transitions take more than a long weekend.
2. Once and Done Toilet Training
You’ve done your three-day toilet training weekend. You’ve had a potty party. Your child has been regularly using the potty for weeks. You’re done!
Until they get diarrhea. Or have a scary experience with a self-flushing toilet.
Or a new baby arrives. The one you wanted them to be completely potty trained before it came so you wouldn’t have two in diapers. That baby.
And your kiddo is back in diapers. Either that or you’re wiping up pee and poop fifty times a day, in between giving them baths for the times baby wipes won’t cut it on clean up.
3. You Don’t Want Two in Diapers
Why not? I will tell you what is worse than two kids in diapers. One kid in diapers and a second one pooping their pants twice a day.
If your toddler isn’t ready to potty train, having a new baby in the family is not going to inspire readiness. In fact, the opposite is much more likely.
And I would never let fear of having two in diapers determine when I was ready to expand my family. They all potty train eventually.
If you’re determined not to have two in diapers, I wish you luck. But I will also tell you, that this will be the least of your concerns soon.
Also, potty training while pregnant is hell. I speak from experience. Wiping up pee puddles around a watermelon size stomach sucks.
4. Putting Your Child on the Potty Will Train Them
If you’re setting a timer every 30 minutes to take your toddler to the potty, they are not the one who is trained, you are.
This can be a helpful way to start while they learn their body’s cues, but if weeks go by and you’re escorting your little one to the potty, pulling down their britches, setting them up there, waiting until they go or you give up every 30 minutes, they are not potty trained.
Potty training is about teaching kids to recognize when they need to go potty by their body’s cues. They should also be pretty good at pulling down their own pants, with no more than a small assist. If this isn’t your child, you may want to give it a little more time.
5. Daycare Will Train Them
No. Just no. Most daycare providers, whether home or center-based, are dealing with multiple kids at a time. Daycare has the advantage of a little bit of peer pressure to learn sometimes. But multiple kids having continuous accidents is a sanitation issue. And beyond the scope of what you can expect from your daycare provider.
Even if daycare is willing, you’re the mom and dad. It’s your responsibility to your child to do most of the heavy lifting.
Potty Training Dos
Potty training was much harder than I expected with my daughter and it went on a lot longer than I anticipated. Many parents will tell you their potty training success strategies, and you should definitely listen. But don’t expect it to work the same way for you.
Every kid is different. Some kids respond to stickers or M&Ms. Others learn with a timer every 30 minutes. For what it’s worth, my daughter would eat the M&Ms or take whatever toy we promised and then go back to having accidents the rest of the day. Or a few days later once the motivating prize was removed.
And I gave up on the timer thing. I don’t know what your days are like, but taking a reluctant toddler to the toilet every 30 minutes all day was a little more of a time suck than I can accommodate.
A Few Things that Do Help
1. Gear Up!
Get your potty gear purchased before you plan to start. Set it up in the bathroom and let your child get used to it for a few days. They can try it out without any pressure.
You’ll need a little potty or a potty seat for your bathroom. Maybe both to see which goes over better. You’ll also need a stool for little feet and legs if they use the big potty. Imagine trying to use the bathroom with your feet dangling and you’ll see the necessity. I love the squatty potty for kids, and adults too. I won’t go into details. It’s awesome. Look it up.
Take your toddler on a shopping trip for underwear and build up some excitement. I let my daughter pick her undies out online. Better to teach her now the way we shop in our family.
2. Don’t Get Discouraged
If potty training doesn’t work right away, it’s ok to back off and live to fight another day. I’ve read the books that say to use up your diapers and then be done. Go all in, don’t buy any more diapers. I say pfffttt!
If you’re lucky enough it actually goes down like that, you can always donate the extra diapers or give them to a friend.
But here in the real world, you’ve probably got some diaper days left. And many, many diaper nights. Night time toilet training is a whole separate project.
3. Avoid Going Negative
Potty training is not the time for punishment. Be positive. Heap on the praise. Give prizes. Find something that works. I can pretty much guarantee punishment and shaming will not.
4. Don’t Spend Too Much Money
I think it’s a great idea to buy a couple of books or videos. Or if you’re cheap like me, get them at the library. You don’t need to buy some $300 potty training kit online. Or the $50 potty seat as opposed to the $10 one. This isn’t a problem where throwing money at it will be a big help.
5. Wait for the Right Time
I’ve heard it said your child will tell you when they’re ready to potty train. I heard this from a woman whose six-year-old still wore diapers. I don’t believe you need to wait for a verbal declaration. What you should wait for are genuine signs of readiness.
Signs of readiness include disliking the feel of a dirty diaper, fairly predictable bowel movements, and fewer wet diapers. It’s a good sign if your toddler starts showing interest in the potty when other people go. It is also helpful if they can pull up and down their own pants.
Any signs of resistance to using the potty mean it’s probably a good idea to wait a bit. If you start before seeing signs of readiness there is a good chance you will encounter regression and the process as a whole will take longer.
Don’t feel pressured by what other parents are doing. Every child is different. You know your child and are the best person to determine when they are ready. Not a book, not a grandparent, not a friend, just you.
Potty training can be a long road. I wish you luck!
What are some other potty training myths? Feel free to share in the comments. And of course any potty training tips.
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