Toilet Training at Two
Potty training your child is one of those parenting milestones that is definitely more rewarding for the parent than the child. For the child it really stinks (pardon the pun!) because once she is potty trained she realizes there’s less attention at bathroom time, she has to start doing it all on her own and instead of lying on a cushiony padded bed while mommy sings songs to her, she has to sit alone on a big cold white hole and if she makes one wrong move she may end up falling into the toilet’s abyss! But for mom and dad it is absolutely one of the most liberating parts of being a parent. No More Diapers! No More Wipes! No more Poop! Like it always is in life, there’s a trade-off: You have to start using public restrooms , stop multiple times on family vacations for “potty” breaks and spend hours teaching about washing hands when visiting the bathroom. But to my husband and I it is definitely worth the trade-off! Our family has always started potty training as soon as possible and typically at about 22 months, just before their second birthday. Our “method” is a combination of not only one source but many, ranging from self-help books, family, friends, teachers and even my kids. The main thing is PATIENCE and a SENSE OF HUMOR!
I don’t believe in the conventional reasoning of “waiting until the child is ready” other than observing that he has the basic toddler physicality of running around the house, climbing onto everything, reaching for whatever he can grab, pulling himself up, and pretty good communication – if he can do all that, he’s ready to be introduced to the Porcelain God! And I feel that there is a window of opportunity that you don’t want to miss because if you wait too long your child may have actually trained themselves to go in their diaper or pull ups.
The very first thing we do is get rid of ALL diapers in the house and NO pull ups. We purchase training underwear (found at Wal-Mart) and incorporate the Toilet Training in Less Than a Day by Nathan Azrin to get kick started. We find a weekend that we can stay at home, and even more specifically, close to the bathroom and then strip down to the birthday suits and just hang out. (Just the child in birthday day the birthday suit of course.)
We make it a game, an adventure, an important event for your child, with a lot of hullabaloo! Keeping your child in view at all times, eventually a bathroom break will come and hopefully they feel the urge to notify you. But if not, as soon as we spot an accident we run them to the toilet. Once they have gone on the toilet we give them a reward, M-n-M or a jelly bean is best, and have a big celebration. We do this for the entire weekend and then depending on how much they have picked up the concept really determines how the next few weeks go.
We have three children and they all took to potty training differently. Our oldest son got the concept the first weekend but it took him about a month until he was completely potty trained; my middle son was potty literally trained after the first weekend and my daughter took about 4 months after the first weekend. Realizing that not every child is the same will be easier on the potty training experience.
But one thing that has been consistent with my kids is that after about a month of being fully potty trained they suddenly started having accidents again. So keep in mind your kids may fall off the wagon, so to speak. This may be caused by events in their life, a new brother or sister, new school or other factors that may cause them to have accidents or revert back, but just be patient and consistent and you will get through it. But don’t go back to diapers or pull ups because this will allow the child to not have to make the effort to try and “hold it”! Of course if it is something that persists, you should contact your doctor.
Potty training is not a science. No matter how perfect your plan is and at whatever age you start it is going to have some hiccups. But what counts is that you stick to it, because even though your toddler seems miles away from being ready I assure you they are smarter than you think!