Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our Potty Training Saga

We still have a ways to go in this journey, but we finally have some success to report in this long, dramatic, potty training saga.

We started the journey last summer.   We had a complete and epic failure.  It ended with me crying, feeling like a terrible mother, and zero success at potty training. 

I was feeling pressure from other moms who were having success and asking me if Baby Girl was potty trained yet.  She was approaching the 3 year mark and everyone told me that girls were easier to train and should be trained by 3 years old.  They said it would be Hell for a few days and then she'll get it and everything will be so much easier.  They said she's showing all the signs that she's ready and that I needed to just get it done.


Baby Girl wasn't ready.  I tried to push her, she had a bad experience, and then wanted NOTHING to do with the potty.  She would actually cry and say she didn't want big girl panties, didn't want the big girl potty and just wanted to stay in her pull-ups.  Poor baby. 

This went on for 8 long months.  

I started getting defensive with other moms about it and would say that I tried before she was ready and it made things worse.  I would tell them that I knew she wouldn't go to kindergarten in pull-ups and that it would happen when she was ready.  

A month or so ago, she finally agreed to try again.  She would sit on the potty for what seemed like ever and nothing would happen.  I rewarded her for her tries so that she would keep it up.  Still, nothing.  I wondered if she had a physical/anatomical problem.  I wondered if she had stage fright.  I wondered what in the world I was doing wrong.  None of the books said anything about this problem....

She started having successes when my husband would ask her to try.  That made me crazy.  Why is she going for him and not me?!  

I watched him one day to see what he was doing differently.  He made sure that she was settled and left the room.  That was it!  She needed privacy!  I was reading her books and helping her pass the time.  All she needed was to be alone!  How frustratingly simple!


She has had 2 weeks of dry days.  She still wears a pull-up during nap time and at night just in case, but she is waking up dry.  She loves her "big girl panties" and loves to pick which ones she's going to wear each day.  We've had several successes with pooping and are still working on that.  She has been a sleep pooper since she was a baby so that habit is going to be tough to kick. 

We're still working on "listening to your body" and being more independent when it comes to sitting on the potty.  Right now, she never tells us and waits for us to make her try.  She would hold it all day long if I didn't remind her.  But, it will come.  I'm being patient.  We've come so very far already.

These are the things that worked for us:

1.  Have a small potty and a seat to go on the big potty.  Let your little one decide which one to use.  Baby Girl only likes the little potty at this point.  Do whatever works.

2.  Have a reward system in place.  We discovered we need to reward her for many things: actually going potty (no more rewards for trying after we started having successes),  staying dry all day, having 4 or more successes per day (she started to hold it all day to stay dry).  We have a chart with checks to track her successes and I have candy and prizes in her bathroom for instant gratification.

3.  Have patience.  Don't let anyone pressure you into trying before your child is ready.  If you fail, wait a while and try again.  This is one of the only areas in life that your child has control.  Wait until he/she feels in control and wants to do it, otherwise, it's going to be a disaster.

p.s.  Why do I drink Baby Mama Juice?  Because I have the most sensitive child on the planet.  She got in trouble this morning for throwing a fit over not wanting a pony tail in her hair for dance.  She wait through the entire dance class and wouldn't participate because she was so upset.  Wow.  


  1. So glad the potty training is going well! I remember how stressed out and upset my mom was when she tried to potty train my youngest sister! It was a long process....

  2. My son Henry was 5 by time he was fully potty trained. He has autism so we knew it would take longer. The worst was changing those nasty huge diapers! We literally cried with joy when his therapist got him to start using the bathroom. He wouldn't do it for us!

    As for your last comment about the ponytail. Keira went through a phase like that too. She will grow out of it! Girls can be so much harder than boys its crazy! It's like they have hormones already at 3?

  3. So glad to hear it's going well! I have had so many friends who have felt the pressure to start potty training and when it failed and then just felt like failures and horrible moms. It isn't fair how much pressure we put on each other- every baby, toddler, kids moves at their own pace! Sounds like you're doing a great job.

  4. I felt every word of this post (except the success part...I'm still waiting) but I'm not pushing the issue any longer. It has been 8 months, maybe longer and we are in exactly the same boat. Maybe I will try the privacy thing next time she is willing/interested! Great tips!! She's a tough cookie ;-)

  5. So glad for you that Baby Girl decided to be potty trained. My N was just as stubborn, so I feel your pain.

  6. Yeah Baby girl! My two and a half year old Jac has potty trained himself; we still put on a diaper at night. (This momma is selfish and doesn't want to wash his sheets multiple times a week!) I was hesitant to encourage it--but it's my reward for his five and a half year old brother Drew's potty training failure. He was three and a half before he got it. He remembers his "rewards"-kid knew what he was doing!

  7. Yay for success! Who knew privacy was the key? Will totally remember this little nugget of info!

  8. I love that you have shared your perspective and experience with the world wide web. The privacy "game-changer" made me smile, actually. :)


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