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Potty Training: What we Did

June 25, 2012

Disclaimer: this is by no means intended to be a “how to potty train your child” type of post. I am not an expert after one child, and the one best piece of advice I can ever give anyone is that you know your child, trust your instincts.  Rather than a step-by-step guide to potty training, this is meant to be a record of what we did with Gus so that I can remember when  Jude’s time comes, and also to give a different perspective because all I’ve seen out there is the “whole hog” approach. We did something different.

Sometimes, when things creep up on us gradually, we tend to become a bit complacent. One often doesn’t notice tiny, incremental changes until faced with some form of stark comparison. For us, that stark comparison hit us in the olfactories the first time we changed one of Jude’s innocuous, buttery, cute little newborn poopy diapers — Just one of those puppies and suddenly the ground shifted and I was literally gagging over Gus’ full-size-person-poop diapers. Night after night we’d say to Gus: “Please Please Pleeeeease would you use the potty when you have to poop!??!” Every night he’d say, “Yes. Tomorrow I’ll go in the potty.”

Tip #1: asking a 2.5 year old to use the potty (even asking nicely) is not an effective means of potty training.

Everything I was reading said that we should just finish with diapers and jump into undies with both feet. Rip off that bandaid, so to speak. And that may have worked fine except that Gus wasn’t into it.  I know my kid, and I knew that I didn’t want a fight over the potty. I didn’t want this to be a power struggle. I’d win, sure, but why? I know Gus and I knew there had to be a way for us to get through this as allies. My kid doesn’t like change much (he gets that from me) and his world has already been 100% rocked this year with Jude’s entrance. The last thing I wanted was to hit him with another huge shift just as suddenly.

Tip #2: you don’t *have* to turn to the internet for every answer. This came as a shock to me too. I know. I’ll give you a moment.

So we started on weekends. At first we would just put him in underwear when he wanted to be. We let him pee in the back yard (we’re klassy up in here.) After a while, we changed the tack from “do you want to wear underwear” to “time to put on your underwear!” A couple of weeks went by on the just weekends approach (note that we have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as our weekends so that was three days per week), we ventured out in public wearing undies for the first time. I mean, you know, Gus’ first time.

Tip #3: giving a shoulder ride to a not-quite-three-year-old on his first outing without a diaper is probably not a good idea.

Our first outing was actually by accident (no pun intended). We simply forgot he was in undies. We were on a nature walk so we figured it was no biggie. Masa ended up with a bit of pee on his neck but other than that, things went A-ok. Afterwards, at the sandwich shop we went to for lunch Gus had fun telling a cute blonde girl that he was wearing UNDERWEAR!! She was duly impressed. Funny how a girl’s reaction to that proclamation might change in 20 years or so…

After a couple of months of our part-time approach, (yes, I did say a couple of months. We were going for low-key transition here. Not three-day potty training) Gus was  pooping consistently on the toilet and wearing underwear successfully regardless of where we went. We were ready to involve daycare. I talked to his preschool teacher (who was in on our whole scheme from the beginning) and she said to bring in three sets of clothes and put him in undies and pretty much LET’S DO THIS SHIZ!

And so we did. And I couldn’t be prouder of my little man. He’s still accident-free at school! We’ve had a couple of mishaps here at home but that’s to be expected. On the whole, the entire PT business has been a lot less messy than I had expected. We had had him in pull-ups for naps and a diaper for nighttime at first. At school they dispensed with the pull-up and he’s done great so we followed that lead at home too. And now for the last few nights his diaper has been dry in the morning so I’m somewhat hopeful that we *might* be able to ditch the dipes for good in the near future! My mind is blown! And we have a crapton (pun intended) of size 4 diapers for when Jude is ready for them (which at this rate will be by the end of the summer. Not kidding. That’s a whole other story.)

Tip #4: my final tip would be this – don’t promise a child Disneyland as a reward for potty training if you plan to complete potty training in June. 

Le Sigh. Masa promised the big D to our child when he was using the potty, but now we are roped into actually GOING to Disneyland.

In June.






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