How I Potty Trained My Toddler

Patience, patience, patience.
Potty training is not as scary as you think!

To the tune of If you’re happy and you Know it
“When it’s potty time, you feel it.
please don’t wait
When it’s potty time, you feel it.
please don’t wait
Number one or number two,
Your own body sends a clue
When it’s potty time, you feel it.
please don’t wait”

– Sesame Street, Potty Time Songs

Let me start off by saying I am not a doctor nor an expert in the subject. This is just the way we potty trained our toddler. Some of the following methods that I describe that didn’t work for us, might very well work for you and your little one. This is just the story about how we were successful. To each their own in this wonderful world of parenthood! We are in this together.

My little man hit is third birthday in June 2020. The idea of potty training him was on our minds for a few months and we agreed we would give it a shot when he turned 3. Having the mind set of “give it a shot” was probably our first mistake, you need to be sure, and committed.  While my husband was at work one day, I figured meh… let’s pull out that little white potty. I had him sit on it, and sit… and sit… and sit. I plunked him in front of our coffee table and turned on the TV. I let him watch his favorite show while he sat on the potty, and figured I sit there beside him until he peed and then do the famous “yay! You peed” dance. Well, this stubborn little man had other plans. He must have sat there for at least 45 minutes. (Pretty sure at least 3 Blippi videos played) The baby had woken from his nap, and so I had to put the pull up back on and go get the baby. The SECOND that pull up went on, he peed. Ugh. Defeat.

The day went on, and my son spent most of it sitting on a potty watching tv. Every single time I had to get up to do something I’d put the pull up back on, and he would pee immediately in it. WHHHYYYY. I was frustrated. This went on, for a couple days, until I threw my hands in the air and came to the conclusion that he wasn’t ready.

A few weeks later I decided to give it another go. Only this time, I was going to try having him sit on the potty every 5-10 minutes – all day long. After about an hour, (if that) my son absolutely refused to go anywhere near the potty when the timer went off. He ran out of the room so fast I couldn’t even catch him. He would yell “No potty!” “No sit!” as he ran out of the room. This battle continued for half the day; clearly this method was not for my kid. Again, I threw my hands in the air and claimed he wasn’t ready.

I now know that he was ready, I was just going about it SO wrong.

A couple months later my husband and I talked about it again, and he decided to purchase Lora Jensen’s 3 day method e-book.  Amazon states “Lora shares the method she put together in a step-by-step book that has children potty trained in just 3 short days.  Not just for pee and poop but for day and night too!  Lora’s method is all about training the child to learn their own body signs.  If the parent has to do all the work, then the child isn’t truly trained, but with Lora’s method your child will learn when their body is telling them that they need to use the potty and they will communicate that need to you.” My husband read it over and over again, and asked me to do the same so we would be on the same page. Jensen has a lot of good suggestions; however, there were a few things that we didn’t think would work with our son, so we did tweak the plan a little bit. For example, taking him with you and showing him that you are getting rid of all his diapers before bed, and explaining that he would wear big boy underwear in the morning. While this is a great suggestion, we knew this was something we did not want to do. You have to do what works for you and your child. Before even starting, we knew we were not going to follow the plan strictly the way Jensen laid it out. However, reading this book definitely gave us a solid framework to work from, and I absolutely recommend it, if you are thinking of doing the 3 day method.

We went out shopping and loaded up on the most adorable little underwear, a whole bunch of new toys and “rewards” and a whack load of indoor activities, since you are house bound for the 3 days.  Going into the weekend, I did not have high hopes, I shrugged many times when we would talk about and I was not convinced this was going to work. I had to change my outlook on it or else it wasn’t going to work. You have to believe it will work!

The night before beginning the training, while changing my son’s diaper I said “Okay. This is it, this is the last diaper I will ever put on my son.” (And yes, that pulled at my heart strings… when did my baby get so big?!?!)  I was set, I was ready to go. My mind had been made up that no matter what happens the next 3 days, my son will no longer wear diapers. We were not turning back, we were not giving up. It’s go time.

On day 1 of the potty training journey, we woke up our son, put the underwear on and that was that. He didn’t complain, he just went with the flow. Down the stairs we went.

Every 2-5 minutes for the entire morning all I heard was my husband’s voice:
“Tell Daddy if you have to pee”
“Don’t forget to tell me if you have to pee”
“Do you have to pee?”

OOMMMGGG … Jensen says you might get annoyed with your own voice, but, WOW.  

When my son finally did pee, he kind of stopped what he was doing, looked down and got a little upset, he’s not one for messes. So my husband ran to him and brought him to sit on the potty while saying “Good job, buddy!” and would explain pee goes in the potty, mommy and daddy pee on the potty, etc.

The first day was just exhausting. He hardly peed in the potty at all and we weren’t hopeful but were determined to keep going. He would just pee over and over again in his underwear, which made sense because he had no idea how to hold it in. He would pee in small amounts, but enough to have to change his underwear (stock up!! Seriously like 30+ pairs) however, he did manage to pee little amounts in the potty. We would stop him mid-accident and bring him to the potty, where he would finish his pee. Even if it was after an accident and only a small amount in the potty, we would make a huge deal about it and give him a “reward”, with lots of high fives, and happy dancing.

Day 2 was worse than day 1; my son was getting frustrated, my husband was getting frustrated, the dog was getting frustrated and I was doubtful…it wasn’t fun (isn’t potty training suppose to be FUN?!) It was accident, after accident. He was getting sick of hearing “Don’t forget to tell us you have to pee!” Anytime he would start to have an accident we would rush over to him, and he would get anxious and upset. We realized we had to proceed calmly. Everything about this potty training journey has to be done calmly. We decided to cut down on how often we reminded him to tell us if he had to pee, and just said it when we saw him start his “cues”. In the afternoon, and after a few (hundred) accidents on the floor (thankfully we have hardwood…the Swiffer company made a huge chunk of change from us during this weekend) we started to notice the cues. He had a very distinct “pee dance” and would stop whatever he was doing and look down. The first time he finally did say “pee” and walked to the potty himself, we made a HUGE deal about it. We were SO happy and thrilled for him, we clapped, we danced, and we gave him a brand new Monster Truck toy for being such a big boy and peeing in the potty, we even Face Timed the Grandma’s (They knew ahead of time to make a big deal about it)

Onto day 3 where he pulled his pants down, sat in the baby’s Bumbo seat and peed all over the baby’s toys and play mat…… Good times. Accidents will happen. Don’t get mad. Gently remind him that we pee in the potty. (Not all over the brand new baby mat and teething toys) The rest of the day was similar to the afternoon of day 2; we were starting to see progress.

By the end of day 4, he was coming to us and saying that he needed to pee. I was shocked, I was amazed, I didn’t believe it, but most of all, I was SO proud.

So what actually happened were two things:
 1.We had learned his “cues” (how he acted right before he was about to pee) and, as soon as he would show them we would say “Remember to pee on the potty” and bring him to his potty.
2. He had learned how his body feels before he has to go pee

What about Number 2? I know for a lot of people this is such a troublesome area. For my son, the first few times going number 2 on the potty were difficult. He would half sit/half stand, and grip onto our arms. We just followed to exact same plan, sat with him for support, and within a few days, he had no issues.

As far as nighttime goes:
We didn’t put a pull up on him overnight for the first few nights; however, we did go back to using one. Our son is such an amazing sleeper (more on that in another post!) that he would have an accident and literally sleep through it. He would wake up soaked, and with a rash, so we decided to keep the pull up on for a little longer and will try once he can wake up dry. Some other tips you might want to try if you want to get rid of the overnight diaper is waking your little one up around 10-11 to pee and cutting out liquids after supper. We’re just not there quite yet. We don’t use one at nap time, but that took some time. He did have a couple accidents the first couple of weeks, which is totally fine and expected! We started to serve lunch a little earlier, and we make sure he tries to pee before he gets into bed for his nap.

It has been almost 2 months since we potty trained, and now he just goes by himself without even mentioning it. Just last night I was following him upstairs and he turned around and said “No Mama.” I was shocked (and hurt) and asked him if he wanted to go by himself. He answered with “Mama, go downstairs.” Which is what I did…and then cried.

SO PROUD

Some key points to remember:
1. There will be lots of accidents, no seriously like hundreds of them. Don’t make a big deal of them, just clean them up and go on.

2. Be patient. Be patient. Be patient.

3. Watch your child like a hawk and learn their cues.

4. Day 2 might look worse
5. DON’T GIVE UP

Key things I wish I knew going in:
1. You honestly need like 20-30 pairs of underwear, or you will be doing laundry 10 times a day

2. Consistency is the entire name of the game; it probably won’t click for your child until late day 3 or even day 4, just keep going. There will be hundreds of accidents, it will seem like you aren’t making progress but you are. Just keep going.

3. You cannot look at anything other than your child for 3 days. I cannot stress this enough. You can’t look at your phone, you can’t look at the TV, and you can’t even turn to look at your partner when you talk to them. The second you take your eyes off your child they will pee, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Until you really learn your child’s cues you will have to watch them the entire time.

4. It is an intense process and it will test your patience, but it’s worth it.

If you have any questions or want to chat about potty training, reach out. I would love to chat!

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