Potty training thread
July 27, 2011 7:54 PM   Subscribe

MeFi parents - give me your potty training advice!

I trust MeFi Parents a lot. Please share your potty training wisdom with me.

(I'm not REALLY worry about this yet, but best be prepared... plus I have lots of friends that talk about this all the time.)

Relevant facts:

- boy
- age 2.75
- not in daycare (thus no social pressure - but starting a 3 morning a week preschool soon, but they're cool with whatever stage you're at)
- at home with a nanny all day
- has a speech delay, but is pretty communicative
- wears cloth diapers
- we have little potties in the bathrooms
- we talk about how big boys go potty, babies wear diapers
- we talk about how cool it is to go potty

- he is not yet aware of when he needs to go pee or poop and if he happens to be naked and pees on himself, he gets upset
- even if he has a poopy diaper (cloth or disposable when we've been on vacation), he doesn't tell us that he has a poopy (every time we do a poopy diaper change we tell him that he should tell us when he has a poopy) -- I think that he doesn't want to stop playing or whatever to get it changed
- After a diaper change I ask him if he wants to wear a diaper or if he wants to go without pants. He almost always wants to wear a diaper and gets anxious if he isn't wearing pants at least.
posted by k8t to Human Relations (18 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
- Even if he has a poopy diaper (cloth or disposable when we've been on vacation), he doesn't tell us that he has a poopy (every time we do a poopy diaper change we tell him that he should tell us when he has a poopy) -- I think that he doesn't want to stop playing or whatever to get it changed

Just on this - we had similar experiences with our youngster at this age.

What we did was actually stop him doing what he was doing every so often and say to him - do you need to go to the toilet? or, even better, Let's go to the toilet please?

What is did was get his head out of what he was doing and onto concentrating on going to the toilet. It helped him stop, take stock and "remember" to go to the loo.

We'd ask really frequently too - at home every 30 minutes or so. When we were out we'd ask whenever we were near a toilet.

This of course isn't the only solution - there's plenty of work to do. But this is one technique we used in particular to help this specific problem.
posted by chris88 at 8:21 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't. I was confident that the whole 'training' scheme wasn't necessary, that, given an example to follow and access to facilities, I wouldn't have to do a damn thing.

The only way this doesn't work, I feel (and have observed from much wasted time on parenting boards), is if there is pressure. I would step down the "babies wear diapers" stuff. He knows. Prioritise his dignity over all other things and all will go well.

Given that he's still asking for diapers, just roll with that for now. Buy 3T underpants. Explain that you have, without overselling it. Periodically ask if he wants to wear them. Express no dismay at a 'no.' He'll get there.

My one mistake was in being resistant to the idea of a potty. I installed a flip-down seat on the toilet, got a little stool. But toilets are scary, and from 2 1/4 - 2 3/4 there were only occasional, experimental visits to the toilet. Despite no diaper overnight or at naps. Much pride, and much pride on my part as these visits were wholly unprompted, but, also, much terror of flush. Finally I snagged a neighbour's hand-me-down super-plain perfect-design Ikea potty, and it was off to the races; kid was very taken with the little "Hername-size toilet that doesn't do flush," immediately wanted to know "Can I do poos in it as well?" Yes! Wow! And that was it, and I gave away the remaining diapers that week.

A few days later there were tears and wet pants and "I forgot to go!" but that was it for accidents; my mother's advice on that gently unnerving phase was "spare pants in your purse and be brave," which seemed reasonable. Dignity, again -- don't slap a diaper on a toilet-using kid because (long grocery shop, whatever) which seems to be a common...pitfall. Confusing, undignified, sends all sorts of wrong messages. Once there is real, child-driven success, you say YAY! and explain about the diapers going to the tot on the next block. Trust your kid. I never, ever did the "do you have to go" or "let's go check" stuff, just explained: we're going to the store, there'll be a toilet there, no potty but toilets, but of course in the car, etc.

Two weeks later some sand got into it after we came home with a lot of beach sand, and it became distasteful to use, this sandy potty, and I did not hasten to clean it, and when it had been ignored for a week or two I hustled it off to the next neighbour.

I got a no-night-diaper-from-age-2 by accident; very zombied one night I didn't re-diaper her, and discovered that a bare bum meant no pee. Experiment with a sheet protector and no bottom half on the pajamas or your old tee shirt as a nightie.
posted by kmennie at 8:28 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

IMO, if he doesn't yet have an awareness of when he needs to pee or poop, he's probably not old enough to be potty training. You can try to encourage his awareness by asking him regularly if he needs to go, but if he's still accidentally urinating on himself when he's pantless, he's probably not ready.

Your son actually sounds a lot like my daughter, who didn't want anything to do with toilets (expect, occasionally, to wear the potty chair as a hat) until she was probably almost three and a half. So I mostly left her alone--changed her diaper, sat her on the toilet after I used it (mostly to get her used to sitting on it, which she hated), and other than that, pretended that the toilet and usage thereof was not a thing.

When she was about 3.5, she all of a sudden started wanting to use the toilet, and she went from diapers all the time to pull-ups at night only in maybe three months. Another three months and she didn't need them at night anymore, either. The toilet training process was almost entirely painless, and I can count on one hand the number of accidents she had.

I think that there's a lot of pressure put on parents to get their children toilet trained relatively young, but my feeling was that you never see a ten-year-old wearing diapers, you know? They get there at some point. You can probably move that point up by a few months or a year by pushing training early and often, but, personally, I'd prefer to spare myself (and my child) the stress and just accept that it'll happen when it happens. There are bigger battles ahead--for me, potty training wasn't where I wanted to stage the first fight.
posted by MeghanC at 8:29 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

My son watched Potty Power! with a kind of manic fervor and this seemed to do the trick.
posted by escabeche at 9:11 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of the things we did at your stage was to talk about "BMs go in the potty" and she would watch us dump the poo out of the diaper into the toilet and flush it. I think it helped her make the connection between her own poo and using the potty. She was not trained early or anything - I do believe that kids get potty trained when their mind and body are ready and not before (at least not consistently before). But we wanted to give her some ways to think about it, and make the experience her own.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:19 PM on July 27, 2011

If they're old enough to understand, I recommend you figure out their price and them bribe them as needed. My kids didn't mind staying in diapers until they were properly incentivized.

For my daughter, an M&M for pee and a Hershie's Kiss for poop did the trick. For my son, matchbox cars were the thing.

We also read them kids books about potty training (Once Upon a Potty -- there are gender specific versions). Maybe they saw a video on the subject (I think Netflix has something).

To really make progress, my wife had the kids run around naked during all waking hours for three days in a row so the kids would have a strong pairing of certain feelings mean you're doing something that needs to go in the potty. And yes, there were accidents but not too bad. By the end of the three days the kids were in underwear.

Night training came later.

Good luck!
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 9:57 PM on July 27, 2011

I did a countdown to potty training, making it exciting "Seven days before you get to use the potty!" with associated visit to the brand new potty to admire it. Then six days, five days etc., explaining the colorful training pants and what we had to do with the pooh and the pee afterward. When the time was up, he just went and did it, end of story.
posted by francesca too at 10:32 PM on July 27, 2011

We're not bothering yet with potty training. It's clear to us that Toddler Zizzle, at least, isn't quite ready. He's shown a few preliminary signs off and on in the last few months, but nothing terribly consistent, and we feel that he needs to be able to communicate verbally a little better before we try to talk too much about the potty.

The other night, however, I was the computer and he was at his train table next to it. I heard him babble-babble "poo poo!" "Did you say poo poo?" "Poo poo." "Did you make a poo poo?" He just kinda smiled, and sure enough, he had made a poo poo. And my mama pride burst forth because not only had he used a new word, he was in fact telling me he needed his diaper changed.

I think we're going to try to encourage the letting us know he already went right now and will work on the knowing before has to a bit later.
posted by zizzle at 3:16 AM on July 28, 2011

Ours told us. Just refused to put a nappy on. We'd tried lots of approaches - sitting her on the potty at regular intervals etc. Turns out she'd developed pretty good bladder control and was deliberately holding it...

It will be so much less stress (for both of you) if you leave it until he can tell you he needs to go.

We did prizes. She learned, very quickly, that she could do just enough to get a prize, and hold the rest to get another shortly afterwards (record was splitting one wee into seven). In the end, though, she'd decided to do it, so we let her get on with it. (She also knows her own mind very well, and gets really annoyed if you keep asking her whether she wants to go...)
posted by monkey closet at 4:20 AM on July 28, 2011

You can teach him to be aware of when they need to pee, what it feels like to pee, etc. and get him confident enough to go diaper free. Some kids just hate being wet and don't like the risk of having accidents so you have to really work on their bodily awareness and confidence.

First, he needs to be in a compliant and generally happy stage.

Do you/your nanny know of a time when he consistently has a super-wet diaper? If so, put him on the potty at that time and entertain the hell out of him until he pees. Bubbles, books, new toys he has NEVER SEEN! Be gentle but firm about him staying on the potty. It shouldn't be a long, traumatic ordeal if you time it right.

Run some water in the sink.

Eventually, he will pee.Let him know he's peeing, yay! Wooooo! Give him a special treat for peeing! Put him back in his diapers and move on with the day.

Be patient and keep this up until he has the necessary understanding of what it feels like, and is able to pee right when you sit him down.

Once he is more secure and confident in his ability to know when he is going to pee, you can move on to getting him motivated to use the potty instead of diapers.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:30 AM on July 28, 2011

In case it's helpful to know, I have potty-trained three kids and it's been very different each time. I was a bit dismayed to figure out that what you know about potty-training one kid doesn't necessarily help at all with the next one! With my oldest, when he was just past two, I took him out of daytime diapers (after he had said he wanted to pee in the potty), and simply never went back: I dealt with any accidents that happened, we hung around at home with no pants on (him only!) so he could both feel the sensation and get to the potty quickly, and over a few months he made steady progress to being dry all the time.

#2 wasn't remotely ready at that age. He stayed in diapers much longer, and then turned out to be one of those kids who was potty-trained for peeing but only wanted to poop in a diaper while hiding behind a door for a long time. I got kind of frustrated during that phase--you can tell me you need me to put a diaper on you but you can't use the potty?--but mostly we just rolled with it until, at some point, I let us run out of diapers and he made the switch.

#3 got tired of waiting for me to get around to it and potty-trained herself when she was not quite 3.

The one bit of advice I would give from these three different experiences is to stay mellow if you can, trusting that your kid will eventually use the toilet; avoid any shaming or pressure (I've had friends end up in the potty-training power-struggle and according to them, it's hard to get out of once you're caught up in it and have a kid who has decided that refusing to use the toilet is a great way to assert her independence); cheerfully continue to offer the potty, or going diaper-less, as an option even when they're always choosing the diaper.
posted by not that girl at 6:32 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am learning with you. For what it is worth - keeping in mind I am learning myself - my sister was potty trained with bribery. My mother placed a Ken doll (for her Barbie) on her dresser and said she wasn't going to get it until she went on the potty. Wow - did that work! That story is so famous her current boyfriend knows how she was potty trained.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 8:21 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

The road to potty use with our two boys was slightly different for each. However the three consistent things were the books "Everyone Poops" and the book referenced above "Once Upon a Potty" which is an irritating read but pedagogically compelling to the pre fecally autonomous. The other consistent thing was no-pants time especially in the morning when you can be guaranteed a huge pee awareness moment or three. Greet pee with cheers and dances and always keep the mop handy. Both boys had to realize the connection between feeling like peeing and peeing and being pants free did it.

Have fun.
posted by firstdrop at 8:46 AM on July 28, 2011

Be patient. Stay calm. It's a process and he's going to do it in steps. There will be steps forward and steps back. Don't make a big deal out of it and know that he will get it eventually, when body, mind and spirit are all ready to do it. Think about kids learning to walk and talk--we don't ask kids to learn to do those over a weekend! So relax and let him learn.
posted by wallaby at 10:09 AM on July 28, 2011

Here's a little trick for the pee portion of the program (only works with boys, so lucky for you...) - drop a cheerio or something similar that floats in the toilet and have your son use it for target practice. Celebrate if he hits! It makes it fun for him, and before you know it he'll be going to the toilet every time he feels the need, just to play the game.

That worked for our son, who for some reason was better at getting to the toilet for poops but couldn't care less about waddling around in a soggy diaper.

If your son likes Sesame Street, there's an "Elmo's Potty Time" DVD that our son seemed to take to.
posted by Zippity Goombah at 10:56 AM on July 28, 2011

In case it's helpful to know, I have potty-trained three kids and it's been very different each time.

Yes, this is the most important thing! Kids are different and if anything feels wrong or seems counterproductive, don't do it even if it works for someone else.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:18 AM on July 28, 2011

he is not yet aware of when he needs to go pee or poop and if he happens to be naked and pees on himself, he gets upset
Perhaps he just hasn't been able to connect the sensation of needing to pee with the result of peeing on himself if he doesn't use the potty? Of course, it is upsetting to pee on oneselves but I think that's supposed to be the incentive. Going diaperless allows him to connect the sensation of needing to pee (which he's certainly having but probably not recognizing as "needing to pee") with the peeing itself. I'd suggest letting him try diaperless just a little longer and see if he can figure out the connection.
We also liked a few books: Everyone Poops is fun and My Big Boy Potty.. That potty Power video mentioned upthread was a little obnoxious. Even my daughter hated it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2011

Like a couple of others upthread I recommend the chilled out approach. I tried really hard with the first (boy) starting around 2. Had a lot of pee and poo on the floor and only occasional successes until about 3. He's 5 now and still pees the bed at night about once a week. My second trained herself before 2 and I don't think she's ever had an accident. I did buy "special" underpants for them when they were ready to try. I kept two potties in the house, one on each floor but they both went straight to the toilet with one of those little filler seats.

Good luck! I just sold my used potties online actually, along with my used cloth diapers so those days are over for me!
posted by Cuke at 6:35 PM on July 28, 2011

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