Just a few months after my son’s second birthday, while I was a whopping 35 weeks pregnant, I decided to tackle potty training with my toddler! We had already made the move to a “big boy bed” and it was a pretty easy transition, so I decided to keep the ball rolling to get as many major tasks done BEFORE baby arrived.
The week my son turned two, I had given potty training a try and it was a complete failure. I gave up after the first day when he had peed on the floor 10 TIMES before nap…I was over it. But the truth is, I hadn’t put much thought or effort into the process. So for potty training round two, I collected these three SIMPLE things that made all the difference in potty training.
Of course, you’re going to need to think about where your child is going to use the restroom. You will probably want to have at least one “little potty” to keep close by in your living room or play area. If you want to go crazy and keep one in every room of your house, go for it! My son ended up preferring the regular toilet in his bathroom, so we didn’t get much use out of the small potty after the first week. But it was very helpful to keep the little potty in the back of my car for travel. It saved us from many accidents on our way to and from play dates, errands, or church. For our regular toilet, we used a ring like this one. And we’re also encouraging him to learn to “balance” on a big potty, to prepare him for outings where there isn’t any toddler-friendly restroom gear. So far this is a work in progress—send me all your tips for kiddos afraid of public restrooms!
2. A Strong Mental Game.
One of my biggest takeaways from our adventures in simple potty training is that this process has a lot more to do with my mental game than my child’s. In the beginning, it’s all about how diligent you are in watching them, how patient you are in letting them learn, and how you choose to respond to failure. These things will make ALL the difference.
I gave up the first time around because my expectations were set entirely too high and I ran out of energy too quickly. So my first goal in upping my mental game, was to set my expectations very very low. Like extremely low. This is a long process that will take time and patience and there will be lots of accidents. Take ANY form of progress as a major win!
I found that tantrums increased tenfold while potty training. If he had a defiant moment or wild tantrum, it was even worse during those early days of potty training. I just told myself that his little brain was on overload from learning a new skill and being out of his comfort zone, and I cranked up my patience level. I also didn’t give up just because of his defiance. I kept repeating, “No more diapers; you can do this!”
3. This Book.
“Oh Crap, Potty Training!” by Jamie Glowacki Reading this book the week before potty training made the biggest impact on our whole experience. I valued Glowacki’s simple, straightforward advice and all the troubleshooting the book includes. I can’t recommend it enough, if you’ve already started potty training or if it’s still several months away for your family. Either way, you need this book! She outlines a plan or process that you can follow and gives tons of advice about specifics like underwear and fear of the toilet. The author suggests beginning potty training sometime between 20 months and 30 months, but also has advice for parents who want to begin early or have opted to start later.
And that’s it! For us, there were no sticker rewards charts, no prize box, or treats. We didn’t even need snazzy new underwear to get started, since he went commando for the first month (more on why this works best in the book). While reward systems work great for many kids, we found we didn’t need it and letting our son learn through basic, consistent routine was the best fit. Just simple potty training—throw away those diapers and don’t look back!