Ditch the Diapers

5 Easy Steps to Potty Training Success

I never realized how much I loved diapers until I taught my three kids how to use the bathroom. There is nothing as frustrating as potty training, including wiping their bums or trying to find a changing table in the men's room where there were none. It's hard after letting them go whenever they please for two years of their lives to change gears.

Each child of mine was different when it came to toilet training, but each one waited until he or she was almost 3 years old to master it. If this is the case for you, don't worry, potty training is going to happen. They get motivated by being able to go to school with other kids who have mastered the porcelain throne; it's a good kind of peer pressure to become a "big boy" or "big girl" that Mom or Dad can't provide.

With each kid, though, I learned a few things along the way that may help ease the potty-training process. We parents will try anything to make it happen. You may become desperate and resort to wild tactics. Stick with the five things below, and you too will soon be cleaning pee from all around the toilet in places you never knew pee could go.

1. Ditch the Pull Ups

I'm a big fan of the Pull Ups song, but I think they only serve their purpose for adults in nursing homes or older people who have bladder issues. A Pull Up is a basically a diaper, and I think it confuses kids because it feels the same. The only reason it is different is because it can be taken off like underwear, which makes any crap they made in there on accident ripe for situations where taking it off vertically is not going to be such a good idea. Remember when you changed from nipple to bottle and the kid was confused? It's basically the same concept, only this time it is diaper confusion. Ditch the Pull Ups completely and quit cold turkey.

2. Dedicate a week to go au natural

This is honestly going to be the hardest part. You may not leave your house for an entire week, maybe more depending on the child. Let him walk around in his birthday suit. Not having something he needs to pull down or take off will help him in the long run.

The hard part will be when you HAVE to go out to the grocery store. It will be like carrying a live grenade with the pin pulled and you're just waiting for the explosion. We have a rule in our house — GO BEFORE YOU GO. Do that. Then, when you get to the store, try again. Then, when you fill up your cart you will undoubtedly have to race through the store to the bathroom at least once more. Don't forget to stop there on your way out after checking out, either. You will soon know where every public restroom is located in every store in your neighborhood.

3. Get them underwear BEFORE they master it

The old "If you pee or poop in the potty, I'll get you some special underwear" is not the greatest motivation. How about motivating them with awesome underwear that they don't want to crap in? My daughter had a pair of Wonder Woman underwear that she didn't want to see soiled. THAT was motivation to make it in time. She did eventually destroy those, and there were many tears, but she tried much harder the next time she had to go so the same thing wouldn't happen to Batgirl.

Get the underwear BEFORE they master potty training to stress the importance of what their body's bat signal really means. Have them wear this underwear when you go out. Bring a hazmat suit and extra underwear and clothes with a plastic bag with you in case of an accident.

4. Don't get pissed at accidents

Stay calm. This is going to get messy. Your kids are going to pee on your wood floor or your carpet from IKEA like a 15-year-old dog. The difference is you can't shame them for having an accident; it is going to be a part of the process. They aren't doing it to spite you; they just don't understand how to make it to the toilet before sweet release.

This was my biggest frustration while potty training. Cleaning up bodily fluids sucks; just ask any custodian at your local school. Take a deep breath, unless it is a number two, and say something like, "Next time, you'll get it in the potty," even if you know that it's probably not going to happen. Staying positive is going to be key. Encouragement will go a long way. Getting angry will not instill motivation, and it may have them holding it in because they will associate an accident with you getting angry.

5. Offer some kind of reward

For each of my kids, motivation was something different. Sometimes it was M&M's — two for a poop and one for pee. Pink M&M's, stickers, a chart, a movie, a toy. There can be something that helps motivate them. We used the Let's Potty board game, Princess Potty book and a sticker chart supplied by Pampers with Disney Princesses to track their success. To be honest, it's going to be a lot of trial and error. Don't feel obligated to stick with one thing as they may lose interest.

Also, as a word to the wise, don't do your touchdown dance in front of someone that is still struggling. Make sure your kid has it down before you go bragging that she has been dry for two days. All of my kids regressed, whether it was because of a vacation or total loss of interest. It's frustrating to think your child has  it down and then she forgets altogether what was happening in the first place. Your kid will show you signs that he or she is ready. Don't force the potty training to happen just because of your kid's age. Each child progresses at a different pace with potty training, just like with learning anything new.

Once you've mastered all of these steps you can move on to the next challenges — teaching them to wipe themselves AND flushing the toilet.

Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below or share it on my FB page.

Chris Bernholdt is a local stay-at-home dad of three and founder of the Philly Dads Group. This post is adapted from his blog DadNCharge.

Categories: MomSpeak