If you are or have been the parent of a toddler you likely know how frustrating potty training can be. I am a firm believer in the child letting you know when they are ready and not pushing it. Our daughter started getting really interested in the process of us using the potty. So we offered to let her sit on it. For a little while it was just sitting on the toilet reading a book called “Everybody Pottys” or singing songs or just talking. We never pushed her too hard. We encouraged her to sit on the potty but if she didn’t want to we didn’t force her, we let it go.
There are a lot of contradicting opinions when it comes to potty training (as there are with all parenting techniques). I’m not saying our way is right, I’m just sharing what worked for our child. Every child is different and has different needs. Use your best judgement, and if it isn’t working try something else.
As added motivation I bought a potty reward chart by Babebay. My daughter loves dinosaurs so each time she completed one of the potty related activities she got a dinosaur egg magnet. The categories were “I said I need to go potty”, “I sat on the potty”, “I went pee or poo”, “I wiped and flushed” and “I washed my hands”. When a row is filled all the way the last egg has a dinosaur hatching out. At that point we let her pick a prize egg from a basket up on a high shelf. Inside the eggs were little toys, mostly dinosaurs and zoo animals. This helped her get excited about using the potty. It really helped encourage her to go pee.
Once she was peeing in the toilet with consistency and started forgetting about the chart/reward aspect of it all together we finished out the remaining little prizes and removed the eggs and chart from the bathroom. She continued peeing every time and only asked once about the egg toys. We explained that it was to help her learn how and now she is so good at she doesn’t need it anymore. She was fine with that and didn’t have any issue with it.
The big struggle for us was pooping in the potty. We thought once she learned how to use the potty both aspects of it would happen together, but they didn’t. She flat out refused to poop in the toilet. She would sit for a second then freak out and run out of the bathroom screaming. We would encourage her to use the potty when she was farting or seemed to need to go poop and she would refuse, hide and poop in her pull up. Outside she would pull down her pants and poop in the grass “like a dog” she would say. We were frustrated and at the end of our rope.
We didn’t get it.
At the advice of my mom and grandmother we took her to the store and let her pick out special big girl panties. She loved them but still pooped in them. She definitely didn’t like the way it felt or the extra clean up process but it wasn’t enough to get her to the toilet. She started not wanting to wear her panties because she didn’t want to ruin them.
We weren’t sure what to do next. She was 3 & 1/2 and our friends and family were starting to comment that “she should be potty trained by now” and “she still isn’t potty trained?”. It really bothered us but no matter how hard it is sometimes, ignore everyone else! We thought about taking her to a Behaviorist but that felt like an extreme step and we weren’t there yet. There is nothing wrong with our little girl and we weren’t going to treat her like there is.
Since it is summer time she spent most of her days outside in the backyard. Most of her accidents happened when she was playing outside. We realized that she didn’t want to stop playing to go inside to use the potty. She was worried she wouldn’t be allowed to go back outside again. My husband had a genius idea! He brought her little training potty (which she didn’t really care for inside, she wanted the big potty) outside. She loved it! She hates wearing clothes anyway so she was able to go over and use the potty when she felt the need without going inside. Suddenly she was pooping in the outside potty! When she pooped in the training potty we made a big deal out of it and gave her lots of praise. She was so proud, and we were so proud of her! Some told us that wasn’t really using the potty and it’s a cop-out but we felt like it was progress.
She used the outside potty was a safe way to test out the feeling of needing to poop without having to stop playing to sit in a boring bathroom. She would sit for a minute, run off and play, run back and sit, so on and so on. It only took a few times for her to figure out the feeling she was waiting for and started knowing exactly when she needed to poop. A three year old doesn’t want to sit for 10-15 minutes in a bathroom waiting for poop to be ready. This gave her freedom and flexibility to figure it out on her own.
One day she went into the bathroom inside the house and pooped in the big toilet! She excitedly called us in to show us and we all cheered and celebrated! You should have seen the pride on her face! Since that moment she has not peed or pooped in her pants, not even once. Something clicked for her that day and it removed all fear from the process. She doesn’t need or expect prizes or rewards. She doesn’t even want us to help her, she’s very independent. She’s now fully potty trained and feels so accomplished and grown up.
What we learned from this process is your timeline doesn’t matter. When they are ready they will use the potty.
Your job is to give them the tools and freedom to figure it out on their own.