In honor of my favorite twins fast approaching the age of the training of the potty, here’s my potty-training win article for you all to enjoy!
Potty-training was one of my least favorite things about parenting boys. They seemed to take forever to get it, didn’t care if they stank, and it was a generally unpleasant task for all involved. Fast forward to son number 3. He and I were both extremely unhappy with his daycare facility and I was not above showing up to the center he was on the waiting list for on a weekly basis to cry and beg for them to take my amazing toddler. I brought him in for an interview with the director who took to him immediately. He took pity on us and said, ok, he can start the next session in 2 weeks. One of the students from the pre-k class was leaving and he would give me the spot provided Khev was potty trained because the children in that class were a little older than he was, 3 and 4-year olds. I was thrilled and said of course he is! Poor kid was exactly 2 years and 4 months old, but I had 2 weeks and I was determined to come up with a plan to make this kid love the potty in only 2 weeks.
Let me be totally honest here: my plan was good, but only because he was so smart and motivated did it work as well as it did. I devised a rewards system where each time he did anything in the potty, he got the one thing that was major contraband in our home: a piece of candy. Older moms in my life told me that this was a terrible idea, that I was essentially bribing him with candy, and that he would always expect candy every time he used the toilet basically forever. I blew that off. Like really, what five-year old remembers potty training from a couple of years earlier? There were other equally dire warnings, but I dove in with the candy-for-poop scheme immediately. We barely went outside those 2 weeks. He got lots of extra tv time and spent it naked from the waist down sitting on a potty.
There were a couple of times in the beginning when he tried to trick me by saying he had “made” and held out his hand. It was so cute I allowed it and doled out the prize. (Let me say right now, that for each time he “made”, he received a SINGLE Skittle or M&M). But eventually I had to ignore the cuteness and demand to see something in the potty. I’ve heard horror stories of kids pooping in corners or peeing all over the house but luckily, I didn’t have those issues. The candy for poop & pee scheme worked like a charm, as well as lots of other positive reinforcement like clapping and celebrating and cool big boy underwear with superheroes on them. That first week of the new school, they were very understanding that transitioning to a new place would ultimately result in a little regression and some accidents. The whole first month I held my breath expecting a bag of wet clothes every time I picked him up, but it never happened. It was a perfect combination of factors: positive potty-training experience at home, lots of peer pressure to not wet himself at school and the recognition that being wet and stinky in underwear was really uncomfortable.
Believe it or not, the kid never had an accident at the new school and only a couple on weekends and that was when we started traveling around and he had to learn to hold it. Because holding it for a while is much harder than recognizing you’re about to have to pee and running to a toilet. The first time he couldn’t hold it he was very upset… with me! It was my fault for not having a toilet handy and I felt his pain. And being potty trained meant not sitting around on a potty anymore, therefore the expectation of candy was quickly all but forgotten. Score a win for what used to be considered bribing your kid and is now known as positive reinforcement. I wish I’d don’t it with the other two!