So, lots of people have asked me how to potty train lately. I guess having 5 kids, people think I know how to do it or something. Well, I hate to disappoint, but I REALLY don't feel like an expert. However, being on my 4th go-round here, I do think that I've learned a few things.
1) You HAVE to wait until the child is ready. Until then, it just ain't gonna happen, and you will just get yourself and your little one needlessly frustrated. Be patient. Lydia was about 2 1/2 when she got it, and my boys, Ross, Mark and Justice were all nearly 3. Believe me, I know how much we all want our children to be out of diapers. But trust me on this, if they aren't ready, don't waste your time. Don't give yourself a needless headache (or your child needless guilt trips) and don't feel like a bad parent either. Some kids will be ready before others, and that's fine. I don't know how to tell when they are ready. They may show an interest, heck a keen interest in the potty early on. This may or may not mean they are ready. Yes, try it, but if it doesn't work, don't sweat it. Let it go and try again in a few months. When they are ready, it only takes a couple of days till they just get it, and then they are completely there. That's how it's been in my experience anyway. If you've tried and after a day or two, they just aren't getting it, don't push the issue, try again in a few months.
2) Don't waste your money on pull-ups as a general rule. Face the fact that you are going to have to clean up a mess or two or three or four. Pull ups are just like diapers to them. They just pee, and it gets absorbed, they don't care. Let them pee their pants with underwear (or go bare bottom, if you prefer). Let them see and feel the consequence. They probably won't like it. Now, if you are going out of the house, and they aren't quite totally trustworthy with those undies yet, yes, use a pull up or a diaper. But at home, NO. (If you work, wait until a Saturday when you can spend most of the day or a couple of days at home before you even try.) If your child is really ready for the potty, this stage shouldn't last too long. Like I said eventually it just clicks and they know what to do.
3) With a child who is ready, sometimes it's just a battle of wills. Justice is like this. He can do it, he's just not sure he wants to. Win the battle of wills. Put that kid in underwear, show him how to use the toilet, and let him pee his pants, poop them too. (Of course offer to take them to the potty several times a day. If you can see that they are getting ready to go, pick them up and set them on the potty.) Most little kids want to be a big kid, they want to wear the underwear, so if they are ready just enforce it (during the day, night time bed wetting is a whole other ball of wax. Some kids are just bed wetters, and so far as I know, they can't help it.) You don't have to be mean about it, just let them know that they are big and that they won't be wearing diapers anymore. Brace yourself to clean up a mess or two, and do it. Have a sticker chart, a bag of suckers, a few chocolate chips or something for a reward, and make a huge deal about it when they do use the toilet. When they mess up, show them that you are disappointed, but don't be mad at them. They are just little kids learning a new skill, they will mess up. It's okay. Having them help clean up the mess (in a nice way) will be a reminder and an incentive not to do it again. Don't make potty training be stressful for them. (Boy, don't I wish I could say that I've always done it like this! -HA HA!)
A tip that sounds good to me is to put them immediately on the toilet the first thing in the morning, as soon as they get out of bed. Don't we all have to pee first thing in the morning?
You might have a child who is like Ross was for me. He was truly afraid to poop in the potty for some unknown reason. I'm not sure what his aversion was, but he went a full year only half potty trained. He peed in the toilet always, but he would not poop in the potty. Why, I don't really know, but I think he was afraid that the toilet monster would come out and get him. What to do about that, I don't know. I tried to catch him in the act time and time and time again, and set him on the toilet when I KNEW he had to poo. He wouldn't do it though. He'd hold it all day until he got a diaper on to go to bed, then he'd poop in that. One day about a year after he was pee potty trained, we caught him at it, and he couldn't hold it any longer. He pooped in the toilet, and that was the end of that. It was a light bulb moment for him, he just realized that the toilet monster wasn't going to kill him, and it was all good. If you have one like Ross, I'm sorry. No good advice. Be patient and ready with those wet wipes.
That's all I really know. Hope it's helpful. Sorry if it's really not. I'd say, if you've tried everything you know, and it's not working, don't stress out - maybe they just aren't ready. Give it up and try again later.
-What a lot of yammer about nothing!
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