When Evie turned 6 weeks old, I decided it was time to potty train Mekonen. In hindsight, that was crazy. But it worked, so I guess not so crazy right? Although, it would've made for a funny youtube video of me running my 2 year old to the potty all while nursing my newborn at the same time. It was a comical site to see!
Originally, my plan to potty train was not going to happen until sometime this fall (Mekonen turns 3 yrs. old at the end of December). But he has always gotten terrible diaper rashes, and this February into March it was almost non-stop. It was to the point where it was bleeding and he would freak out when we changed him. I felt so bad for him. So amid my sleepy, newborn haze, I decided it was time! I used a mix of two methods, "The Official 3 Day Potty Training Method" and Dr. Phil's potty training concepts. These worked great for us and I highly recommend them if you are considering potty training, or are having trouble with it. Obviously this is my first and so far only experience with potty training, but those recommendations also come from several friends who have used these methods and have had success.
The Basics of Our Mixing Potty Training Method
- I think this is the biggest thing- Once you decide to potty train, that's it! No more diapers! At all. No matter how hard it gets. (Except for naps and bedtime if you decide to continue with those). Resist all protesting from your toddler or preschooler for you to give them their diapers back. When they realize you aren't giving in, they will eventually hate being wet and dirty and will get it. (The Official 3 Day Potty Training Method has sections on training stubborn or uninterested children too).
- Get lots of underwear! We started out with 17 pairs! Have your child help pick them out. Their favorite character underwear might be good motivation for them. Mekonen was going nuts over his Cars and Thomas the Tank Engine underwear.
- Get lots of your child's favorite drinks. (If you normally don't allow juice or soda, consider making an exception for these training days. The more they drink, the more practice they will have!)
- Make it FUN! This is huge! If you show enthusiasm, even during all the accidents, you will be more likely to succeed earlier than later. Resist every single urge to show your frustration or raise your voice.
- Don't punish accidents. Potty training is developmental and something they need to learn- learn how their bodies work and respond. Punishing them may cause stress or rebellion with it.
- Rewards & Treats- find out what works with your child. Mekonen couldn't care less about a sticker chart or little toys. All he wanted was candy! (Can you tell he rarely ever gets any?)
- Stay home for three straight days! Commit yourself to staying inside. I know, it sounds cruel during this nice weather, but trust me, if you are doing the 3-day method, 3 days out of the summer are so worth it for a potty trained kid at the end.
- If possible, send your other children to Grandma's or a friend's house for the day to really concentrate on the potty training child.
- I was going to get some books and videos about the potty from the library, but with caring for Evie and trying to get her schedule down, I just never got around to it.
- The morning we started, I changed Mekonen's diaper as usual, putting another diaper on him. We ate breakfast and started drinking lots of juice. I very enthusiastically told Mekonen we were going to start using the potty and that we weren't using anymore diapers!
- I brought out his favorite stuffed animal, "Puppy" and we first taught Puppy how to use the potty. We started with a diaper, then Mekonen took the diaper off and helped me put Puppy in big boy underwear. Mekonen thought this was wildly hilarious! (I know, the pictures are a bit much. But hey, it was for the blog)!
- Then I told Mekonen how Puppy would get lots to drink so he could have a lot of practice going potty.
- Then I had Puppy use the key phrase, "I have to go potty!" And Mekonen and I would run Puppy to the potty. Sit him on the potty, and I would use a squirt bottle behind Puppy like he was going pee. Then we cheered for Puppy and gave him a treat. (I know, a bit ridiculous, but Mekonen loved it, and it beats using the potty training doll on Dr. Phil's website that is really expensive). We did this several times over the next hour, and also had Puppy have some accidents.
- Then we took Mekonen's diaper off and put on big boy underwear. From the start I said, "Tell Mommy when you have to go potty." This is where this method is different, and I think where it is the key. Instead of taking your child every 15 minutes to the potty and having them sit there until they go, doing it this way, helps the child recognize right away what it feels like to have to go to the bathroom. It's child directed in the sense that they are learning to recognize and control their need to use the bathroom instead of it being dependent on a parent taking them to the bathroom. Initially it will probably cause more accidents at first, but in the long run, I believe has a better outcome.
- So, I said to Mekonen, "Tell Mommy when you need to go potty." Then another key is, Don't let your child out of your sight. Not even for 10 seconds." You need to catch them as they begin to pee. As soon as you see them peeing, scoop them up, run them to the bathroom, and while you do that you say, "Remember to tell Mommy when you have to go potty." This helps them to recognize what they are feeling and that they need to do something about it. Put them on the potty and try to see if they can go a little more in the toilet. If not, no big deal. If they go in the potty, even a little bit, bust out your reward system. For Mekonen, it was M&M's!
- Every few minutes, remind your child, "Tell Mommy when you need to go potty." Keep reminding them throughout the whole process.
- Yes, we had lots and lots of accidents that first morning. I think somewhere between 10-15 before naptime!! And not one of them did he tell me he had to go potty and would pee everywhere! Haha. But I stuck to the running to the bathroom thing described above. During naptime, I put him in a diaper. (In The Official 3 Day Potty Training Method she goes with no diapers at all, not even for nap or bedtime. Her method for nap and bedtime training makes sense to me. But in this phase of life with a newborn, I'm not willing to put that work into it yet. Haha).
- During naptime, I washed lots of underwear and was ready to go for the afternoon and evening. To my surprise, Mekonen started recognizing that he had to go potty. He would start peeing, then stop and yell, "I have to go potty!!!" I would run him to the bathroom and he would finish peeing in the toilet. We cheered and cheered. :)
- I was very fortunate that in my sleepy newborn haze, Mekonen didn't have any pee accidents after that first day. Starting the next day (diaper at night), I put him right in underwear and told him to tell me when he had to go potty. Occasionally, his underwear would be a little wet when I got him to the potty, but not through his pants or anything. Still, we stayed home and inside for three straight days. No errands, no outside play, etc. Talk about the most exhausting 3 days ever, but boy was it worth it.
- We aren't officially in the clear yet! We are still working on the poop thing. I hear it's common for kids to freak out about the poop thing. So if you have any suggestions, I'll gladly take them! We have tried great prizes, candy, and watching to see the signs that he's going to go, but when we get him to the potty, he won't go. The kid will hold it all day, or wait until naptime or bedtime and go in his diaper. Haha. But, he has done it on the potty several times, just not consistently. So we are working on it. His big motivation is "candy in a bowl" as he says. Haha.
- Oh, I realized how much over-excitement can hinder the process! My sister and her kids were visiting for the weekend and I think Mekonen peed his pants about 4 times the whole weekend. Whoa. As soon as they left and life was back to normal, he was fine!
A Few More Tips
- We opted not to use a potty chair. I wanted to get Mekonen used to using the big potty from the start because I didn't want to bring a potty chair everywhere and didn't want to have to later adjust to a big potty. So instead, we just got a potty chair ring that goes over the big potty. It has worked great for us.
- I would refrain from bringing a potty chair outside if you choose to use one. Your child should get used to running inside to the bathroom from the start.
- If possible, stay on hardwood floors/non-carpeted floors during the 3 days. We rolled up our carpet in the living room and it made clean-ups super quick and easy. I just kept a towel and the lysol spray on hand. If you only have one room with no carpet, use it! It will greatly decrease the stress. Bring in special toys, puzzles, etc. to occupy them. Even bring a small TV and DVD player (or laptop) for their favorite movies if that will help. Just do whatever you need to in order to stay on non-carpeted areas.
- Don't go back on the training! Stick with it, no matter what!