Potty Training: Focus on the Child not the Method

I used to potty train clinically. So, when it came time to training my own daughter, I thought I had it in the bag.

WRONG.

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Click below to listen instead!

While the approach we used by Dr. Linda LeBlanc is amazing, I realized something important.

I needed to listen to my daughter above any kind of protocol.

This post is about dealing with toileting anxiety, and following your child’s cues when it comes to troubleshooting.

You will also find newly added content for POTTY TRAINING YOUNG by an amazing Mama of 14 month old twin boys!

The Method Approach

The actual method we used is not mine to share, but we ended up adapting it slightly to meet our needs. Here are the tidbits I am able to share with all of you:

Wait for your CHILD to be ready.
-Here is a helpful readiness checklist for potty training!

Keep it FUN.
The bathroom needs to be a desired place to go. Spruce it up with some fun toys and activities. Make sure activities between toileting times are only moderately preferred. Keep screens off, and avoid anything that will distract your child from feeling their bladder.

PICTURED: Fun activities that can be done sitting down. Treats for going potty. Sheet for tracking toileting success and accidents. Bubbles to add to the POTTY PARTY we threw every time Lani went in the toilet!

Get ready!
-Here are the top 3 things I recommend using:

Introduce it outside of a stressful context.
The day you start potty training should NOT be the first time your child hears about this potty business. Act it out with toys during playtime, or watch fun videos to introduce the concepts.

We watched Signing Time Potty Training every night for a week leading up to and on the big day!

Increase fluids.
Use salty snacks, offer “treat drinks” like juice or popsicles.
NOTE: They may refuse fluids once they realize their diaper is no longer an option, so have multiple treat options available to entice them.

Making biscuits with Daddy as a dry treat to promote drinking!

Avoid shaming for accidents.
-Accidents are part of learning, and often the feeling of wetness is punishment enough.

The Potty Book for Girls was part of our routine. We read it every day (multiple times) and talked about accidents and successes. Lani loved giving the girl in the book gummies for going potty.

Pick something HIGHLY preferred and only allow access to it for toileting success.
-For Lani, we used gummy bears and 1 minute of Super Crazy Kids educational videos.

Troubleshooting

I was checking all the boxes for the method I used clinically, yet my daughter started HATING the process. I started to doubt myself.

Did I push her into this? I thought for sure she was ready.

Then it hit me. I need to read HER cues, not an instruction sheet. I stepped out of my own head and instantly noticed something.

How could I have missed this? It was SO obvious.

Lani wasn’t hating the process, she actually really wanted to get it. She was anxious. Peeing standing up in a diaper is VASTLY different than peeing sitting down.

Anxiety

I shut my screaming daughter and I in the bathroom and gave her a little barrier so she could have some privacy.

I got on my knees and applied pressure around my daughter’s waist, similar to the feedback a diaper provides.

She immediately calmed down and looked into my eyes. You are so brave baby, and you’ve got this.

The sound of a child peeing without any tears is simply beautiful. The smile on her face afterward is one I will never forget. Pure pride and delight.

From that moment forward, I followed Lani’s cues and it was an instant change. Everything clicked. Any time we tried adding something new, like a public toilet, we had a similar moment of working through and conquering anxiety.

The Takeaway

My daughter became independent with potty training in under a week, but that’s not what this post is really about. I didn’t consider our approach successful until I tailored it to my own child.

Like any other part of parenting, you will be inundated with advice about potty training once you start. It will mostly be helpful, but don’t forget to stop and watch your child for cues.

Ask yourself:
Are they anxious?
Are they not motivated?
Are they scared?

Teach to the way your CHILD learns, not the way everyone else is teaching.

NEWLY ADDED!
Potty Training YOUNG

Want to get a head start on making potty FUN?

Let’s hear from a Twin Mama who is rocking it with her boys!

Hello, my name is Thenedra and I am a wife, mother to 14-month-old twin boys, and currently pregnant with baby number three! Our journey to parenthood was not easy, as our boys are a result of IVF. We fought for two long years to bring them into this world. We could not be more blessed to be their parents and forever grateful for modern medicine.

Let’s talk potty training! Prior to my career as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, I spent 15 years as a career nanny. You could say my love for children started extremely early.

One of my favorite parts of nannying was potty training. I know, it probably sounds very bizarre. However, I absolutely loved being able to celebrate with the kids as they proudly flushed away their poop or pee in the potty!

One of the little girls I nannied for was extremely advanced for her age, and so I started potty training her at about 12 months old. Because I was a live in nanny for her, I knew her schedule perfectly, and it was very easy for me to predict when she would need to poop.

One of my techniques for potty training early is to set a schedule for when to sit the child on the potty.

With her, I always started with doing it in the morning and before bathtime. This would average out to 1 to 2 times per day of her sitting on the potty. This was very successful for her and she was fully potty trained, with the exception of overnight, by the age of 18 months.

I am now taking on this journey of potty training with my twin boys. One of our nannies started elimination communication with one of my sons at four months, so his first time pooping in the potty was at four months old! I follow a similar schedule with both of my boys, as I did when I was nannying.

This includes sitting them on the potty in the morning and at night. I did not expect them to catch on so quickly, so I altered the schedule and added in another potty time around mid-day. The schedule helps immensely, because they know what to expect. If you know your child always poops after lunch, set them on the toilet after lunch.

The best advice that I can give about starting potty training at such a young age is to have zero expectations and to approach it as a fun way to introduce them to the toilet.

Yes, fun! Create a potty song, a potty dance, celebrate with them, wave bye bye to the poop/pee, and make your child feel proud and empowered. I always had the boys in the restroom with me when I would go, so they were used to seeing me, which is why I think they were so curious.

Another piece of advice that I think works best for kids that are younger, is to utilize the adult toilet with a child seat on top. I have found in my experience that younger children see the kids size toilets as toys, rather than time to go potty.


So, I decided that we would opt out of the kid size toilet. Another piece of advice that I would give is to do positive rewards for using the potty. Some kids cannot connect the fact that they went potty with receiving a special treat or sticker, however my boys were able to catch on extremely fast and so we utilize mini M&Ms as a way to reward them for using the potty.

This is what is working right now for my family, I’m sure when a new baby comes they will regress and that is OK.

They are only 14 months old and I have a full understanding of the fact that they’re young and are doing exceptionally well for their age. I can’t stress enough how important it is to try to make it a fun process.

You’d think I was a lunatic if you saw how ecstatic I get every time they successfully use the potty! You know what the best part is? Seeing them smile proudly while I’m acting like a lunatic!

I think doing it while they’re younger is easier because we’re nowhere near them wearing underwear, so accidents don’t happen because they still wear their diapers.

In my opinion, the amount of accidents and laundry is what has a lot of parents throwing in the towel and pushing the pause button on potty training. By starting early, that stressor won’t exist, and hopefully by the time they’re ready for underwear, accidents will be minimal.

Happy training!

Author Bio

Thenedra life’s with her husband, sons Kaius and Sovi and their Great Dane, Fitz! She enjoys crocheting, being a foodie, and adventuring with her family. The best way to contact her is @raisingtherootstwins

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