It’s happening people: the all-in effort to potty train our oldest. Now, before you get excited, this is not a post about all the best ways to potty train a toddler. I wish it was, but we’re not there yet. Let me tell you about our potty training journey…
Around Thanksgiving in 2019, Esther started showing interest in the toilet – much to our surprise. Soon after, we bought a Minnie Mouse toilet seat in the hopes of capitalizing on this interest but it didn’t take. Neither of us were too concerned because she was only 18 months old at the time.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2020 and the real start of potty training. Honestly, I was not in favor of the “3-day training” method because it involved her being naked and I was worried about our carpets. So we took a much more relaxed approach. For many months, we didn’t push the issue if she didn’t want to go. We wanted to make sure she didn’t end up hating the potty and reject the change completely. Obviously every child is different, but I do not recommend this approach. Guys, it’s been almost a year of “relaxed” potty training. Granted, there have been a lot of big changes this year with Covid-19, a new baby, trying to transition Esther to a big girl bed in the summer, and pulling her out of daycare to be home full-time with me a few months ago.
Lately it seems we may have turned the corner. Esther loves reading so we’ve been spending time in the bathroom reading books while she sits on the potty. I have found, though, that she could happily sit there reading for 30+ minutes without actually going to the bathroom. Other times, when told it’s time to try the potty, she loses her mind and throws herself on the floor or the couch in full-on “who are you and what have you done with our child” meltdowns.
At the end of the day, here’s what I’ve learned: (1) focusing on one big change at a time is best to help with any and all transitions; (2) stickers that lead up to a prize or treat are a very effective “reward”; (3) how we talk about the potty training process is incredibly important.
This is what I have been struggling with the most: I worry about putting unrealistic expectations on her. As the firstborn in my family, I grew up with huge expectations of myself that were sometimes hard to live up to and it left me feeling like I failed a lot. My husband and I have typically approached the conversation with Esther by explaining that using the potty is something big girls, and big sisters, do. But when she’s really fighting us and says she doesn’t want to be a big girl, I worry about our methods and if we’re doing the right thing. I have a feeling this worry will rear it’s ugly head a few more times as the girls grow up…
I have done a TON of reading this week on what other parents have done and the one thing that has stuck out to me the most is this: make room for your child to have as much control and ownership over the process as possible. So, while we have no magical answers, this is what our current plan of attack is:
- Three days (to start) of either fully nude or underwear (we will let her decide);
- Homemade cleaners on hand at all times;
- A timer set for 15-20 minutes in between bathroom visits;
- A chart where she can earn fun stickers every time she goes to the bathroom that lead up to a reward;
- A basket of her favourite books in the bathroom;
- My “mom cheer” queued up and ready to go.
If you think of us this week, prayers are appreciated. We start tomorrow…