A few years ago as a recently new mom, I remember sitting in the teacher’s lounge and hearing someone talk about a book they had read years ago on “potty training in a day.” I thought to myself (and possibly out-loud), “I’ll never be able to accomplish that in a day with my oldest son; who can be rather strong-willed at times.” I’ve also heard said, that moms should never say, “I’ll never!”
This was the day we first set up his potty…he was not very excited about the idea (notice the feet behind the shower curtain)! He was definitely not ready; this was 6 months before The Big Day.
The thoughts of that conversation came spinning back this past fall as I began plotting our big attempt at conquering potty training for the first time. The following account is how we took our son (we will call him “Little Man” to protect his future humiliation) from diapers to underwear(and pull-ups) in ONE DAY!
1. The first key (and most important), was that our Little Man knew that we follow through with our words. As teachers and youth workers, we understood the importance of saying ONLY what we mean. If we tell him something we make sure we can and will follow through; even if it is inconvient for us. (If we say he had only 5 minutes more to play before bedtime, he knows that he can whine or even blow kisses but will not be able to convince us otherwise. If we tell him we will go to the park in the afternoon, we will go, and if it rains we will drop by an indoor place area somewhere. In other words our word is our word!) As a teacher, I had so many parents “threaten” consequences on their children in front of me and their child that both of us knew were never going to happen. My favorite one was when a parent threatened to make his son LIVE at school with me; as if I lived there! (It had no affect on the student because he knew, even as a first grader, that there was no way dad could follow through on that.)
2. The second key for us, was that he had his little potty for about 6 months. He had become accustomed to sitting on it with clothes on and looking at books while my husband and I were getting ready. He was comfortable with the idea of sitting on the potty. We also found a few children’s books on using the potty (especially Elmo’s Potty Book) that were a big hit!
3. The third key was that I was watching for all the signs that were suppose to indicate he was “ready” to use the potty. Here are the indicators as described on BabyCenter.com:
Look for these readiness skills:
1. Desire to please (likes to give gifts, enjoys praise)
2. Desire for independence (takes pride in new abilities, wants to “do it myself”)
3. Imitates adults and older children
4. Language skills: able to communicate needs, and understands words about the toileting process
5. Motor skills: able to walk to the potty, get on and pull down pants
3. Bowel movements occur on a fairly predictable schedule
4. Has longer periods with a dry diaper, which means your child’s bladder is able to store urine. (Your child wakes up from a nap dry, or stays dry for 2 or more hours)
5. Is able to follow simple, one-step verbal instructions
6. Shows an interest in imitating other family members or friends in the bathroom
7. Through words, facial expressions or a change in activity, your child shows you they know when their bladder is full or when they are about to have a bowel movement
See the rest of the article on babycenter.com by clicking HERE!
4. The fourth key was plotting out and planning for our BIG DAY!
Materials I gathered: a package of wipes, a potty sticker chart, stickers, M&Ms, his plastic potty, underwear with his favorite characters (Thomas the Train and Cars), a sippy cup with half apple juice and half water,a potty timer watch that came with his pull-ups, and all the patience I could muster up!
5. THE BIG DAY!
Before our Little Man woke up I made sure I was ready for the day ahead. I chose a Friday because I don’t work on Fridays and then I would have the weekend to continue. I put all of his diapers away, gathered all the materials I listed above and prayed for patience. I also planned for accidents as I knew there might be a few. When I heard the familiar, “Mama! All Done!” bellowed from his bedroom his brother and I went to greet him.
“Good Morning Buddy!” I greeted him. “Today’s a BIG day… while you were sleeping Daddy and I got a few surprises for you! Do you want to come and see?” “Yea!” he giggled while rubbed his tired eyes.
I led him to the bathroom where I showed him the sticker chart, the M&Ms, the stickers, and presented him with his new underwear. “Buddy, all your diapers are gone because today you are going to start using the potty! When you put pee-pees or poo-poos in the potty you get stickers and M&Ms today!” I shared with enthusiasm. ”Wow!” he mumbled with his thumb still in his mouth. “You get 3 M&Ms and 1 sticker on your chart for pee-pees and 5 M&Ms and 2 stickers on your chart for poo-poos.” I explained. The numbers didn’t mean that much to him but they would soon!
I helped him take off his diaper and sit on the potty. Nothing. So we put his underwear on, set his potty timer watch for 30 minutes and went downstairs for breakfast. My goal was to catch him and have him go before he actually HAD to go. After breakfast he was able to go in the potty; we had a little celebration with M&Ms and stickers, reset his potty timer (mainly for me) and then went to play. The rest of the day, we went in and he at least sat on his potty every 30 minutes and tried. Sometimes he went other times he did not, but the idea was starting to click. We did have one full accident on the floor and one partial that we caught midway but we didn’t make a big deal about those and simply changed his underwear and reset our potty timer. At nap time and later then at bedtime, we used his “nighttime underwear” (pull-ups) as having dry naps was not our main goal. By the time my husband came home, I needed a break! I had spent the entire day in and out of the bathroom while holding a rather curious crawling infant.
We continued the same procedure the next day and even ventured out to Costco. His big achievement for that day was that he “used the Costco potty!” We knew we were on the right track. Over the next week or two we did have an occasional accident but we didn’t allow those to set us back. After about 2 weeks we moved his little potty onto the big potty, then about a week later we took the potty seat off the toilet, and then finally we worked on standing up. We slowly weaned him off of the M&Ms and stickers as well.
I recognize that this was one child, with one temperment, so that being said, I’ll update you on our Little Little Man when we get to that time with him! Good luck!
CLICK HERE for potty training charts!