the trick to potty training

You would think I had learned my lesson by now, but for some reason whenever I see something tell me how to parent my oldest, I want to believe it can work for us so badly that I end up giving it a go anyway— even though my heart already knows it won’t work. Remember that bunny book that they claim has a 98% rating of getting kids to fall asleep? You bet your ass I jumped on that one when I heard about it and all it did was creep all of us out.

Thing is, not all children are created equal, making “Foolproof Potty Training!” an absolutely nutty declaration. Still, I couldn’t help but be enticed by all of the catchy titles on Pinterest swearing to have my baby love trained in just three days, so I read on.

We tried taking him shopping and letting him pick his own undies. He loved it! In fact, he loved it so much that he would intentionally pee his pants just so he could put on a new pair of his super cool undies.

We bought a sticker chart and a bucket full of candy and toys. He was reeeeaalllyy into that. But he couldn’t get behind the concept that he had to collect a certain amount of stickers in order to get a prize. The wait out weighed the reward for him, and he would end up silently protesting— by pooping in the corner of the living room instead.

the trick to potty training

Even when we could get him interested in something, the allure would quickly fade and he would go right back to doing the deed in his pantalones.

Derek became determined to make a man out of our toddler however, and decided to take the reigns while I was out of town for a bridal shower at the beginning of June. He tossed the babe in big boy undies, dealt with more messes than not, and kept trying.

When I got home, I could tell that Declan’s interest had grown, but not much. Still, the tone had been set so I needed to follow through with Derek’s new “no diapers” rule.

That next day he told me he had to use the potty. So we ran into the bathroom, pulled down his pants, and nothing happened. He decided he didn’t have to poop after all, but I’m a mom, and I know he did. So for the next 40 minutes, he and I walked back into that bathroom at least 7 more times before he finally went. But once he did, I saw something click in his eyes. I don’t know what it was about that day, that time, but I knew right then and there that he had decided he was a potty kid from that day forward.

And he was. He literally went from peeing and pooping his pants nonstop to fully potty trained in a day. And it wasn’t any special method. It wasn’t a special tip or trick. It was just him. It was all him, just deciding that he was ready to take that next step.

That is quite literally the tone of his entire life— I think the tone of most kids who are hyperactive and strong willed. “I’ll do it when I’m good and ready.”

So for me, the trick to potty training was to be there to encourage, but to ultimately let him make the choice himself. We aren’t training dogs, we are teaching and nurturing people. I think it’s normal to want the fastet, easiest method for less messes to clean up and cheaper grocery bills (because diapers are crazy expensive!). But when you find yourself frustrated because all of the “how to’s” just aren’t working, just remember that these little people are just that. They are people who are desperate to have control over some aspect of their worlds that are completely controlled by other people. And with a little patience and a whole lot of disinfectant spray, they’ll get there.