Potty Training Tips Part 1: Before you begin

So I’ve been asked on multiple occassions to explain how I potty trained my two oldest (or is it eldest?) girls.  Carlie was potty trained around 2 1/2 years old and within 4 days she had it down pat.  Within 2 weeks she was 100% diaper free, even during naps and nighttime. 

We started with Maddie just after her second birthday.  We just thought we’d give it a shot, we expected total, utter failure.

She got it in 1 day.  Yes, 1 day. 

Now she’s not 100% diaper free yet.  She still wears one at nap and bedtime.  We tried to go without a diaper for nap (on accident actually, in fact, just this past weekend, we just forgot to the put the diaper on her before putting her in the crib), but of course ended up with pee all over the place.  But she’s still young (just under 2 1/2 right now), and she’s had some dry diapers after nap.  She’ll get there when she’s a bit older.

So at this pace Lizzie will be trained at 18 months, right?  Ha.  So far this child defies everything her sisters did.  She’s making her mark in this family so my guess is I’ll be lucky if she’s trained before kindergarten. 

Anyway, potty training is tough.  No, it’s not tough, it’s a pain the rear.  Ha ha.  Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.  But I wanted to share what I did in case it helps you.  I originally planned to put it all in one post but it got too long.  So first I’ll cover what we’ve done before actually starting training, with another post tomorrow about what to do during training.

Again, this is what I did for my girls and tips I received along the way.  They may or may not work for you, and there are lots of other ways to go about it with the same (or better!) results.

So before you begin, here are some things to do or keep in mind as you get ready to get that kid out of diapers:

  • Remember that potty training is about control.  Do whatever you can to give your child as much control over the situation as you can.  Let them make the decisions whenever possible.
  • Set a date that will be the last day diapers or first day in big kid underwear.  Let the child pick out the date on the calendar.  You can guide them to a date you prefer, but let them think they’re in charge of choosing which date it is.  I know what you’re thinking.  Kids that young don’t understand dates and calendars.  It’s okay.  They get that there will be a last day to wear diapers and marking it on the calendar enforces that it will happen. 
  • Be sure the date chosen is a date where you can set aside at least 4 days, if not a week, to dedicate to training.  It could take that long, maybe longer.  If you work full time I recommend taking some time off work if you can.  Schedule it around a time when you’ll have a three day weekend and take one extra day off if your vacation is limited.
  • Let the kid help pick out their big kid underwear.  Go to the store, show them several packages and let them choose.  As you can see it always comes back to control.
  • If you don’t have one yet, let the kid pick out their potty chair too.
  • Get books or DVDs about potty training.  We ended up buying a book from the used book store about a little girl learning to use the potty.  We also ended up borrowing two particular DVDs from the library, “Go Potty Go” and “The Potty Movie for Girls”.  My girls watched them over and over and over and over and over and over.  They loved the movies and knew all the songs by the time we took them back to the library.
  • Let your child see you use the potty.  Explain why we put our “pee” and “poo” (or whatever terms you decide to use) in the potty.  Make using the potty just be a part of everyday, normal life.  If they have big sisters or brothers (or cousins or neighbors) ask if your child can see them potty too.  Sometimes seeing an older child is more helpful than seeing an adult do the same activity. 
  • Keep reiterating about how excited you are that your “big girl” or “big boy” will be using the potty soon.  Kids want to please their parents and if they understand in advance how much you’ll be proud of them for using the potty it will make them more excited about being successful at it.

So that’s all I can think of for prep time.  Stay tuned for the next installment where I’ll cover the fun part — training day.  Woo hoo!

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