Monday, June 24, 2013

Potty Training before two

*disclaimer* I am not an expert on this subject. I'm just a mom who's on her third time down the potty training road who wants to record the journeys for those moments when I'm parenting teenagers and want to laugh at myself for thinking this was hard. I am also not telling you what YOU should do with your own children. Every child/family is different and what is right for my family might not be right for yours. Please don't take this post the wrong way. Moving on.... 

According to the experts Elsa was not ready to potty train. She showed no signs of readiness. She was a poster child for diaper companies - she would cry and cry when I didn't put a diaper on after I changed her diaper in the morning. The girl loved her diapers! I don't  blame her! It's all she's known! Where else was she going to go? And that was our launching point for potty training.  I spent the past week teaching her that the best place to go is on the potty.

Why train her before she shows readiness signs?
Aren't you just training yourself?

These are questions I hear in books, articles, blogs, TV, parenting classes but hopefully this analogy will shed some light on where I'm coming from: You wouldn't wait until a child tells you they want to learn to read to teach them. No. Instead you guide them over time so that by the time they are 5 or 6 they can read on their own. That is not something that usually happens overnight.  It is my job as a parent to make sure I'm providing the educational opportunities they need to learn to read. It is up to me to be disciplined in this - not the child. In my opinion that same can be said for potty training.

These learning opportunities have brought us through week one of potty training Elsa who turns 2 next week. Providing  positive reinforcement and encouragement took us in 7 days from a child who hated to be bare bottomed to a child who cries and cries when I put a diaper on. (It's summer and we're busy so our potty training efforts are put on hold while we are out and about for now. We'll cross that bridge soon enough!)

In case you are ready to begin the potty training process and don't know where to start, here is what has worked for us:

Phase One - Awareness

The first day we were diaper free Elsa had 7-8 accidents because she had no idea when she was about to pee. The next day she was more interested in sitting on the potty so we were hopeful that she'd pee in the potty and I could reward her (we use mini chocolate chips) and she'd be motivated to do it again. It worked! Awareness was starting! She peed in the potty a couple times that day, but only  because she was sitting on the potty for an extended period of time (read: A Barney episode) :) She still had many accidents. Thank goodness for hardwood floors! Any money we were saving in diapers went out the window in wipes to clean the floor!

Day three brought zero accidents and if memory serves me correctly she evened p**ped too! We celebrated with Dairy Queen - her first cone!

From then on I was really hoping she'd p**p in the potty more, but she continues to go in her diaper but she always tells me right after so I'm taking that as a step in the right direction. A week ago she didn't care a lick if she peed/p**ped in her diaper all day long, but now she does. Success!!!!!!

Plus, she's super excited when she goes! "Ta Da!!!!" she says. Be still my heart! This little girl is full of sunshine! Just look at that face! She is so proud of herself!

Days 4-7 she never had an accident and would RUN to the potty when she knew she needed to go. Not to bad for a child who the experts say wasn't ready! I keep her diaper off any time we are home and she is totally fine with that. Now that we've accomplished awareness we're moving on...

Phase Two: Undies (today is day 1 in undies)

I'll be the first to admit, this one I'm nervous about. She's still young and I will probably have to help her pulling her undies up and down so I'm hoping she'll catch on quickly to asking for help and learning to hold it until I can meet her at the potty chair.  I consider it a success if she can stay dry even while wearing something on her bottom. If she can make the connection that undies don't equal diaper then we're doing GREAT. We'll figure out the logistics of ups and downs later.

Phase Three: P**P

I'll have to get back to you on this one! Ha! I told you I wasn't an expert! Each child is different and I'm watching and encouraging Elsa at a pace she can handle. I overheard a grandma at the park the other day lay into her grandson when he came to her and told her he'd p**ped in his pants. Obviously she didn't realize that it was a GOOD thing that he came to her - he could have played on and made a bigger mess - not to mention the poor boys little ears shouldn't have had to hear her harsh words. My point is, we're not focusing on the accidents but praising the h*ck out of her successes.

Phase Four: Leaving the House.

Soooooo not there yet, but I wanted to get what's been working for us written out before I forget so you'll have to forgive the anticlimactic post for now....if you take one thing from my memory keeping/journaling here, let it be that you don't have to wait as long as you don't rush through the steps. I was fully expecting it to take a week or two before Elsa started to understand when she was about to pee. Instead it took three mornings of being bare bottomed.

If you have any advice to share with other moms who are potty training please feel free to share!


  1. Since we're currently working on training our four year old son I am the last person to be giving advice and the first person looking for it :) But I'm thinking that Rachel might be ready soon because she is already wanting to sit on the potty which is an encouraging first step.

  2. Good for you! I think Molly is ready to at least start too...but she's 19 months and we have 2 weeks at camp ahead of us. I'll consider it when that is DONE. I can't imagine trying to potty train away from home. Molly HATES a wet or dirty diaper and comes running to me trying to pull it off. Too bad she's not "old enough" :)

  3. I read an ebook that said before two is ideal and preferred for potty training. I did Teagan a few months back (older than two) based on that ebook. Very similar to what you described, 3 days, 1st day full of accidents, but by day 3 she was almost 100%. Only difference she went straight to underwear. I figured they are not much different than washing poop out of cloth diapers and she really didn't need them for absorbency. Good work!


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