What to Know Before Potty Training

Beyond having potties, prize charts, and lots of towels, it’s important have some know-how before potty training. Especially know-how about when your child is ready, how hard to push, and how to keep the poop off the floor! Here is my two cents, please leave yours in the comments!

How Do I Know my Toddler is Ready to Potty Train?

There are three stages to peeing – knowing you have puddled on the floor, knowing your are leaking, and knowing you need to go. If your child doesn’t know he has to pee until after the pee is out, he’s not ready. If he realize he needs to pee when it starts coming out, he might be ready to start training. If he knows he needs to go, grab that potty and go for it!

potty training tips

Should I Use Pull-ups, Underwear, or Send Him Streaking?

The answer to the really depends on your personal situation. Pull ups will catch the wet MUCH better than underwear. Underwear will catch the poop MUCH better than nakedness. Nakedness is easiest for them to know they are going, and nothing in the way of sitting on the potty. Cloth diapers or training underwear are also an option if you don’t mind washing them. 
As far a pull-ups themselves go, keep in mind that they feel JUST LIKE DIAPERS. If your kiddo always wears cloth diapers, cloth or training pants are going to feel like normal pee-in-me diapers too. No matter what cute picture is on the front, when your kiddo is busy playing, they won’t remember whether they are wearing a pull-up or diaper. Underwear will feel significantly less bulky, but it will still feel like something on their bum ready to catch the pee.
Imagine your boss asks you to print on eggshell white paper instead of plain white. When you are taking your time, no problem. When you are in a hurry or distracted, you aren’t gong to check the printer, you are just going to hit print.

Potty Training Tips

potty training tips

How Hard Should I Push When Potty Training?

This comes down to your toddler’s personality, and your patience level. Think about their independence level, tendency towards compliance v stubbornness, and the level of disappointment they can/should endure.
Independence – If your toddler can’t run himself into your home bathroom to pee, there are going to be a lot of accidents simply because you won’t get him there in time. If your kiddo is attached to your hip 24/7, decide whether you are actually potty training him or it you are just potty training yourself. Is he recognizing the cues to go or are you?
Compliance – A stubborn, spirited child is going to be harder to train. My 2 year old REFUSED to sit on the potty for a few weeks and it wasn’t worth the battle. Spirited kiddos need to feel more like they are running the show, so potty training needs to be introduced in a way that they want it too. If you have a compliant kiddo that will sit on the potty anytime you ask, celebrate your victory! Then use the extra energy to teach him who to obey and why obey, because compliant kids need to know why to obey family compared to friends or other outside influences.
Disappointment – With any accidents and failures, if your kiddo senses disappointment from you, she’s going to feel disappointed in herself. She may already feel disappointment in herself simply for having an accident. Gauge your child’s emotions closely to determine if she can handle the failures and disappointments that will inevitably come with potty training. React with praise, empathy, and a soothing attitude. Celebrate victories and mourn accidents, but please don’t make your child feel like a failure for pooping on the living room rug. Pause potty training for a day or more if she is struggling with the emotional roller coaster too much. 

potty training tips

How Long Will it Take to Potty Train?

This also totally depends on your child and how ready he is. Some moms get the 3 day method to work, but don’t bet on it. Some kids just “click” one day and bam, they are trained. Again, don’t put your money on this. Pick a time period where you have at least a week if not a whole month without major events, travel plans, overnight trips, or stressful duties that will interfere with your ability and patience level. Obviously life happens and you can’t just hit pause while you train, but if you are going on a vacation next week, deal with diapers and work on potty training afterwards. 

Still not Sure if You Are Ready?

Do a Trial Day. Take a day, get your kiddo to run around naked (or with undies if they insist), and see how it goes. Talk up the potty, make sure it’s convenient to get to and easy to sit on, and celebrate any small victory, even a single drip in the potty. At the end of the day, decide if you want to do another day, or try again in a week or more. You may even give up by lunchtime. Or you may have enough success to know it’s time to take it seriously. I did about 4 trial days a few weeks apart with my almost-3 year old before one day she decided to remove her own diaper and start her own trial day. 3 days later we still have accidents, but we are way closer and hope still exists!
potty training tips

Overwhelmed? Just Breathe

I have yet to meet a teenager who isn’t potty trained (unless medical issues come into play, which is a whole other deal). Your child will learn to use the potty eventually. Every child and family is different, so avoid the temptation to compare yours to mine or to that mom crush on instagram. Don’t get down on yourself or your kiddo when accidents happen and trial days fail. Eventually you will do away with the diapers and celebrate frequent trips to the toilet during ball games and church events. You’ve got this!

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