Boy gone potty
August 5, 2007 7:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting ready to start potty training my 2 year old son. What kind of advice can y'all give me. There's

I'm a stay at home dad, so I've got 10 hours a day, 5 days a week to work on the process. I'm looking for advice from those that are currently, or have recently gone through the whole ordeal.
posted by ducktape to Human Relations (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a dad currently doing this with my daughter. I think every kid is going to be different on this one.

Be patient. Use positive feedback. Watch Elmo's Potty Time together. Make a routine (sit on the potty, wipe, flush, wash, etc). Look for signs that they need to go (squatting, grunting, screaming "PEE PEE POTTY!").

Also: Elimination Communication.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:49 AM on August 5, 2007

posted by LoriFLA at 7:57 AM on August 5, 2007

Make sure your child is ready. You won't get anywhere - and may make the process longer - if you push your son into potty training before he's ready.
posted by grateful at 8:03 AM on August 5, 2007

Wait till he's closer to three. Most boys are rushed into this and all that happens is everybody gets frustrated.
posted by what-i-found at 8:04 AM on August 5, 2007

Do not put any underwear on him (indoors obviously). It was less messy than I expected (potty trained twins a couple of years ago).

Also, take him to the bathroom frequently, like after every meal or every 1-1:30 hrs. Sit with him there and ask him to go. He might not go, still, but he will get used to the idea.

For me it was important that the kids learn that they can only go in the bathroom. That's where the potty stayed always. I do not like it that people will bring the potty with them in other rooms of the house.

And this portable potty is a life saver for outdoors. Don't buy the bags that come with it, just use grocery store bags.
posted by carmina at 8:09 AM on August 5, 2007

Seconding those who recommend not rushing into it unless you're sure he's ready. I know it's not always good to make generalizations about raising kids, but I can tell you anecdotally (and from personal experience) that boys are usually harder to potty-train than girls, and their resistance will only end up frustrating you (and them) if you start too soon.

My number one piece of advice is not to let know-it-all family members or friends push you into trying some wacko method "that's guaranteed to work" or making you feel inadequate because "little cousin bobby was potty-trained at only 18 months!"... Just follow your instincts. You are your own best baby expert. And good luck!
posted by amyms at 8:16 AM on August 5, 2007

My daughter was 3 and we had noticed that she really didn't respond to the usual potty-training approach (i.e., slap a pullup on them and ask constantly if they need to go to the bathroom). It just didn't mean anything to her to wear a pullup and we finally decided her personality dictated an all-or-nothing approach.

There was a YMCA party thing coming up that required kids to be potty trained, so we marked that on a calendar, marked a special day slightly before that on the calendar, and spent a week and a half building her up for her "special day" where she'd wear panties and use the toilet (and also be allowed to go to this YMCA thing she was looking forward to). We also bought panties in anticipation of this and by her special day, she was uncontrollable in her anticipation.

Come that day and she wore her panties, had a couple of accidents, but otherwise instantly caught on to what pullups had not communicated. When she'd have an accident we'd have her "practice" 1. realizing she needed to go, 2. walking to the bathroom, 3. pulling down her clothes, etc. (basically repetition of the steps needed). (There are several books about potty-training in a day if you're interested)

My bigger point, even if this method doesn't work for your son, is that it does help to know his personality. Does he respond more to gradual learning with accumulative rewards? It may also depend on what range of 2 he's in, since that year encompasses a huge range of development.
posted by artifarce at 8:18 AM on August 5, 2007

Just potty trained our three year old daughter and buy-in was crucial. Once she decided, it was like a switch went off and boom, she could even make it through the night.

There was a great piece in the NYT a couple of years ago about why American kids took longer (usually by more than a year) than most children throughout the world at potty training and the author pointed the finger at disposable diapers. The story was called Dare to Bare by Meredith F. Small, published October 11, 2005. She noted that one of the biggest challenges for kids was realizing when they were eliminating. She then pointed out that in other cultures where disposables were rare, kids were aware of when they went and quickly found it unpleasant.

We took that observation into account and when our daughter started preferring to run around naked this summer and we decided to let her. Sure enough when ever she had an accident she not only realized it she quickly figured out how to regulate it.

We live in the country so a naked three year old isn't much of an issue, and if you have expensive furniture and carpets, that may not be a route for you, but boy did it happen quickly after only a couple of accidents.

That said, once our younger daughter finally potty trains, we'll probably be getting a new couch.
posted by Toekneesan at 8:48 AM on August 5, 2007

Just don't set a time limit, or get impatient. Every child is different. Don't worry about your friends' kids, or anyone else's. He'll "get it" when he ready, just like walking and talking. You can't force anything along, just give positive feedback.
posted by The Deej at 9:40 AM on August 5, 2007

I'm an auntie rather than a parent so don't have full-time experience with potty training, but the general opinion in my households is that, as Toekneesan says, because of the advances in modern nappies, most kids don't know what's going on inside them. Those dry-weave top layers and all are very good about preventing nappy rash, but if the kid is not aware that he's sitting in a soggy puddle of unpleasantness, he's not going to mind.

Let the kid run around nappyless as much as possible while the weather's warm, and maybe consider the reusable towelling ones (they have poppers on the sides now! No complicated folding and stabbing pins necessary! They are at least as easy to put on as disposable ones, and according to my sister are superior in the whole prevention of poo oozing everywhere ... thing) when it gets colder. He should get to recognise what's going on pretty quickly, and with sufficent encouragement be able to communicate the NEED WEEWEE NOW before it gets to be a damp patch on the carpet. Just don't get cross when things don't quite work out.
posted by Lebannen at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2007

We're doing this now with our 2yo. Some things that have helped:
- Biggest help is that he's truly interested in the potty
- We tried a few potties (bought one he didn't like, tried one at school, sat on a few at the store) and let him pick out the one he liked (it ended up being a BabyBjorn, which gets high marks on amazon from parents of boys)
- Got this book by the Sears' You Can Go to the Potty. It's the only one I could really stomach--it doesn't talk down to the kid. It shows that learning new things is a progression. He usually asks for this book at bedtime. I think he knows he's working on a new skill and finds the book reassuring.
- We ask regularly if he wants to use the potty (slightly more often than we'd be changing a diaper). Sometimes he does want to sit (and then he pees) sometimes he doesn't want to sit (and he pees). We'll probably graduate to asking him to sit on it around the time he usually poops in the morning and "try".
- He has a couple of stuffed animals and we ask him if he thinks they want to sit on the potty. I think giving him a chance to play our role helps him. He looks at his animal and asks "Go pee pee?" and he answers whether they do or not. If they do, we go to the potty and he sits them down, then wipes, etc. He loves that.
- We let him help us go to the bathroom. I'll say "Mama has to go pee pee" and he accompanies me. He'll give me toilet paper to use, then he flushes, and we wash our hands together.
- We get excited and tell him that's great when he does pee in the potty. If it doesn't work out we say something like, "That's fine, that's what happens sometimes. Next time we'll try again." No shame or even encouragement to "do better" next time.
- No pressure. We don't have a timetable or any real need for him to be trained (I'm a sahp, too), so it's really just about having fun learning something new.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:55 AM on August 5, 2007

There are disposable diapers that allow the child to "feel" the the discomfort of having gone in their diaper. I'm not sure what brand or style they are but I'm sure someone on askme knows.
posted by allthewhile at 1:22 PM on August 5, 2007

This is from an older mom who potty trained three girls and one boy. I agree with the idea that the disposable diapers and pullups makes it harder for them to know it's time to go.

Once it seemed each child was ready to learn (usually when they seemed to be waking up dry in the mornings) I put them in the thick training pants and we never went back to diapers EVER, even at night. If we were going somewhere that I really, really didn't want to take a chance on having to clean up a puddle, I would put on a pair of the old fashioned plastic pants over the training pants. Around the house, they wore just underpants so they could get them off quick. It worked for me.

They haven't done the same with their own kids (who listens to grandma's advice anyway?) and it's taken a lot longer to potty train the grandkids with the pullups IMO.

On a side note, I think you have a window of opportunity around 20 - 24 months old; if you miss it then, they will probably be three before you have their attention again.
posted by rcavett at 1:38 PM on August 5, 2007

Not training persay, but according to my Mom, teaching proper aim can be accomplished by tossing Cheerios into the toilet and turning the whole thing into target practice. 33 years later, I still pride myself in my ability to take out targets cleanly.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:23 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here's another vote for "make sure he's really ready before you start." We started too early, and I suspect it ended up taking longer than if we had just waited. As Dr. Sears points out, somebody has to be the last one on the block who's potty-trained...
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:43 PM on August 5, 2007

Two points that resonate with my two kids (third still too young).
1 - when they are ready it is like a switch is turned on. Turning the switch on might be hastened if your boy can watch you and other big boys using the toilet with lots of "this is what big boys do" talk.

2 - pull-ups type training diapers are useless. They are *marginally* more convenient for you than just cotton underwear, but they do not give the kids the feedback a normal accident does. When your little bloke is keen to try the potty/toilet, just put him in underwear and he will get the hang of timing etc. pretty quick.

For what it is worth, I don't think either of my bigger kids had any major number 2 accidents, although learning to wipe their own bottoms can be er...interesting.
Number 1 is obviously more urgent, but a change of pants resets the clock to try again.
posted by bystander at 4:01 PM on August 5, 2007

Setting a date and a reason, like artifarce suggests, worked pretty well for us, for two boys who both potty-trained about the same age as yours.

One thing that definitely _didn't_ work for us was the whole "let them run around naked approach". My mother-in-law confidently told us that that's what worked for her kids, and it's all we would need to do, so we said "Great, but we're doing it at your house. OK?" Our oldest ran around her house for two days, blithely peeing and dropping biscuits on her floors (hardwood, thankfully), before she conceded "Alright...guess we should try something else."

Just saying every kid's different, really, more than anything else. The good thing is that we're all pretty much hard-wired to eventually figure it out, so it's really just a matter of time. Good luck.
posted by LairBob at 4:23 PM on August 5, 2007

Just potty trained our three year old daughter and buy-in was crucial. Once she decided, it was like a switch went off and boom, she could even make it through the night.

Yup. We have plenty of friends who potty trained early (18 months?) by rote/routine and they had frequent accidents. We waited. Had a potty around, let our three year old try it for a few minutes at a time (no pressure), but she didn't seem to be getting the knack. One day, she just "flipped the switch" and has had maybe 2 or 3 accidents ever since then.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:59 PM on August 5, 2007

My parents bribed me. I still remember staring up at the jar of Starbursts, filled with longing... This is assuming you aren't morally opposed to bribery or candy, obviously.
posted by MadamM at 5:38 PM on August 5, 2007

I agree that letting the kid lead this effort will lead to best success, although having the stuff around, using "pull ups" instead of diapers, letting the kid rinse his pee-soiled clothes and put them in the wash (not punitively, but as a way of letting him understand consequences, and never shit-soiled ones).

But what really worked for us was putting him into an environment (play groups and preschool) where lots of the kids were potty-trained and all the adults (i.e. the teachers) were highly motivated to minimize accidents. He just copied his peers, and was all set in about 2- weeks.
posted by nax at 7:06 PM on August 5, 2007

Much of what has been said here is pretty sound.

We have just successfully moved through the "potty training" stage with our daughter - she's just now approaching 3 years-of-age. We drifted through it over the course of about seven months.

I have written about the main points that helped us through it in this article: 7 NOs Of Potty Training - Helping To Keep Parent And Child Sane.

Wishing you all the best with your son through this stage.
posted by roryks at 1:33 PM on August 6, 2007

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