As I mentioned on Instagram last week, we decided to go all in with potty training Blair starting this past weekend. As it turns out, we picked a good time, since we’ve had two snowfalls that have led us to snow day number SIX so far. I don’t love being cooped up at home and that’s honestly what I dreaded most about potty training (well, mainly) but with the snow, I would have been stuck inside either way – so it worked out!
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Over the past few months and especially the past few days, I’ve done a LOT of Googling, asking friends (IRL and social media!) for advice and some soul searching too (ask me how much time I’ve spent sitting on the floor outside the bathroom the past few days) – and I found that there is a LOT of advice out there. And I also found out that not everything works for everyone – so I wanted to share lessons learned and some of the things that did and did not work for us (so far)!
1) A 3-day Potty Training Bootcamp is not over in 3 days. I naively thought this lady was onto something and I’d have a potty trained kid after just 72 hours of intense focus. As it turns out, a 3-year-old can control their bodily functions incredibly well – there were two occurrences of pee and zero poop in about the first 48 hours. So, there we were, at the end of day two of a three-day bootcamp feeling defeated. If she wasn’t actually going to learn how to go on the potty in the first two days, how would she be able to be potty trained fully in 3 days? By the way, I’m definitely NOT knocking this training method, because I have heard stories of it working for some kids! And even though 3 days wasn’t enough for us, I have taken quite a bit of guidance from the author of this book.
2) Holding in poop can actually cause a fever. True story. Though we’ve had two small accidents overnight while she slept (gross I know!), she hasn’t gone nearly as much as normal, has been pretty lethargic and complaining that her booty and tummy hurt (TMI!). The girl needs to let. it. rip. but she is afraid to go in the potty. I am at a loss – I don’t know what to do or how to help her. We noticed her face was really pink and took her temperature the other day and she had a low-grade fever. After consulting Dr. Google, I’m 99.9% sure she is just suffering from something that is apparently quite common in toddlers/preschoolers – poop withholding.
3) Taking your child to the potty when you go may help. For the first few days, we tried to strictly follow the advice of the potty bootcamp author, which stated to only say “Let us know when you have to go potty” to keep the power in the child’s court. However, we weren’t making any progress this way (and quite frankly, still aren’t – but I do still remind her of this frequently). When I finally asked her if she wanted me to go potty with her, she seemed to perk up. This was a big turning point for us – if I actually go potty too, she will almost always go. Small victories.
4) Enlisting help is key to your sanity. Trying to do a bootcamp-style approach to potty training? If at all possible, make sure it’s on a long weekend so your spouse is home or when you have family visiting to help out (ESPECIALLY if you have other kids!). We chose to do this on MLK weekend because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it alone and my husband had an extended weekend due to the holiday. We also got super lucky (well I did – I think he was ready to go back to work. ha!) that there was snow, so he was home an extra day to help out. Potty training is just plain HARD. And when you have another kid clinging to your leg and needing something every 2 seconds, it can make you a little crazy trying to do everything. Especially when the one who is potty training has accidents…which brings me to my next point.
5) Invest in those little blue and white dog pads. We actually had a ton of them from when we potty trained our dog (and she’s still not trained properly, so maybe we just suck at potty training!). I put them on every piece of furniture that Blair sits on and covered them with towels. We also put them under her sheets – that way, we don’t have to wash her ‘air-dry-only’ waterproof mattress pad every time we have nighttime accidents. We told her they just make everything extra comfy and she totally bought it. She asks us to put one down before she sits anywhere now. Hope that doesn’t scar her later down the road!
6) Pick a reward that works. We honestly tried to slowly introduce Blair to potty training over time, thinking it would make it less intimidating. But she has always resisted – even when we promised her a new toy or whatever she wanted from Target. At least 80% of the people that I got advice from said rewards worked – but the caveat is you have to find the reward that works for your child. Apparently toys were not it for Blair, but when we went all in on the bootcamp plans, we let her pick out a bag of candy and she chose gummy bears. I still don’t think the candy was the reason she finally went on the potty, but it definitely helped motivate her the first few days. Now, she doesn’t even really ask for gummy bears anymore when she goes (I think she’s tired of them – or just so full of poop that she can’t eat more.)
7) Make sure you’re well-stocked with detergent. And stain remover, for that matter. We’ve done more laundry over the past week than ever before – mainly because we’ve been washing bedding every single day. Those are the moments I sort of regret nighttime potty training…but honestly, it needs to happen and I just need to have more patience with the whole process.
I also wanted to share some of the awesome ideas I’ve received from IRL friends, family and social media friends – though not all worked for us and some I haven’t tried yet, I thought these were great and wanted to pass them along in case they might work for you!
- Make a reward chart and every time there’s a potty success, add a new sticker. When your child fills the chart you made, they get to pick a new toy or go get ice cream.
- Give them ALL the praise every time they make it to the potty – make a huge deal out of it.
- This is more for stubborn kids (ahem, Blair). Get happy and sad face stickers – when they go potty, they get a happy face sticker. When they go in their pants because they refuse to go to the potty, they get a sad face sticker.
- Make a nighttime routine checklist and use pictures. Add things like brush teeth, put on jammies, read a story and of course, go potty. This way they get accustomed to adding potty time to their routine and will expect it nightly. I haven’t done this but plan to because we struggle getting her to sit on the potty before bed – we had one night where she did go pee before bed and she didn’t wet the bed that night. It works!
- Sometimes it works best to have your kids run around naked – sans panties too. This is true especially if your kid starts treating the panties like a diaper!
- Let them blow out a candle after they successfully go on the potty. We tried this and she actually liked it!
- Read lots of potty books while you’re training them.
- Resist the urge to fall back on diapers if you’re feeling discouraged. It’ll happen – just be patient!
- If they’re resisting even sitting on the potty, put it in front of the TV at first and they’ll probably zone out and go potty without realizing it. Once you build their confidence, move the potty back into the bathroom.
- Surprise them with new underwear with their favorite characters. Make sure they realize they don’t want to mess up their Frozen (or Minnie or Paw Patrol, etc.) panties!
Hopefully some of the ideas will help you if you’re like me and struggling to get your kids to go potty! For the record, I think a lot of it will depend on your child’s personality and the approach will vary based on that. I also believe that the earlier you can introduce it, the better off you’ll be. Blakely is only 17 months but she’s already okay sitting on the potty and doesn’t protest, so I’m definitely going to try and potty train her sooner to avoid the stubbornness we’re facing with Blair (who is 3.5).
Do you have any potty training advice to share? I’d love to hear your suggestions!