During this unprecedented time, I wanted to do something positive and put focus on something other than bad news, so I decided it was a good time to potty train my two-and-a-half-year-old son.
My husband and I have attempted to potty train him before, but literally gave up in a matter of hours after pee and poo everywhere! Also, we are usually on different schedules and I didn’t have the patients to ride it out but being on lockdown has given us all the time we need to get this right, the silver lining, I guess.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert, parenting doesn’t come with a manual (unfortunately!), we just learn as we go, and this is what has worked for us…So, if you have a toddler and toying with the idea of potty training during lockdown, then this might help.
After some research, I thought the best way to tackle this for week one was as follows:
- Leave him without any bottoms on and ask him every 45 mins if he needs a wee or poo. This is to build up association with needing “to go” with the potty, and not be tempted to go on himself
- Reward chart for positive reinforcement
- Not reacting to accidents but celebrating when he gets it right
- Continue using nappy pants at bedtime
Day 1: Peed on the floor three times then finally accepted the potty! We celebrated by cheering and clapping every time.
Day 2: After a somewhat successful day one, with minimal reminders from us, he takes himself to the potty when he feels the urge to go.
He also went for his first poo in the potty but did have an accident when he was engrossed with a puzzle and accidentally pooed on the floor!
Day 3: I was curious (impatient as my husband would say) to see how he would get on wearing pants, but he clearly wasn’t ready, and he pooed in them. He told me immediately and apologised “poo poo mummy, sorry”. We swiftly went back to the original plan, and he continued to take himself to the potty when he felt the need to go.
Days 4 -7: He tells us and takes himself to the potty when he feels the need to go without any accidents. He seems to sit on the potty a few times before he actually goes, testing himself, I guess. He tells us (and shows us) when his done, we continue to celebrate by cheering and clapping, additionally, every time he uses the potty correctly, we put a sticker on the reward chart, which we did throughout the week.
We celebrated the end of week one by giving him a medal (I know, it’s extra!) for positive reinforcement, he was super cute and said, “Thank you very much mummy”.
So, time to introduce pants (Marvel ones of course!).
I’m not going to lie to you, at the start of the week he ruined a few of his pants, but learning to control his need to go was the focus for week two, and all a part of the learning curve. We persevered and by the end of day two of week two he seemed to get it right.
We got it under control by continuing to use the reward chart, cheer and clap when he used the potty correctly, and not making a fuss when he had an accident. Additionally, because he was wearing pants, we asked him more often if he needed to go.
Fast forward two weeks and I am happy to say that he is now potty trained in the daytime, woohoo!
Phase two – Dry night
We are now working on phase two, which is to have a dry night. Children tend to produce more of the hormone that produces urine at night (so I have read), and so it’s very common to continue to wet the bed for a while.
In the meantime, to minimise bed wetting, we have reduced drinks in the evening and give him the chance to use the potty before bed.
We have also invested in a washable mattress protector (should we dare to put him in regular pants after his first dry night). I doubt we will be getting rid of the nappy pants at bedtime anytime soon.
My top tips:
- In the run up to start potty training, make sure you talk to your child about it consistently during nappy changes and show them the potty
- Don’t force it, if your child is flat out refusing to sit on the potty after several attempts then maybe they are not ready. Try again in a few weeks, but remember to keep talking about it
- Buy two potties, the general rule is to keep a potty in sight, and one in the bathroom
- For those with boys, you remember the early days with wee on your face…Well, if not sat positioned correctly on the potty expect a spray! So, make sure they are sat properly, or buy a potty with a high splash guard
- Buy a child toilet seat, my son showed interest in sitting on the toilet quite early on and I wasn’t prepared!
- Buy a small step ladder for the bathroom, it beats holding your child up to the basin while they try to wash their hands!
- Bed-time potty training can take far longer than daytime, so be patient
- Do not react to accidents, this will build up anxiety. Praise when they get it right, go over the top like we did with cheering and clapping to build confidence
- Have carpet cleaner /bicarbonate soda handy for accidents!
Overall, the potty-training process takes time and patients, but work together with your child and they will get there. Good luck!
If you have any top tips, please share in comments below!