I don’t know what potty training boot camp is, or what the potty dance is all about. I only know of the Old School method that my parents had used, that had been very successful at a time when diapers were non-existent. By following this method and constructing a system of our own, Alyssa was pretty much potty trained by the age of two, and a few months later, completely diaper-free!
Just a word of advice for parents about the training: It is a difficult process and very demanding of parents because it requires a lot of time and energy. The main thing is to not give up on it, even when it seems like it’s not working out. Also, having realistic goals set in front of you, can make the process easier. It may take more than a weekend to have them fully potty trained, and even when they are, accidents can still and will happen.
Alyssa was six months old when I had begun potty training. I was criticized about it from all sides (yes, people actually called me crazy for it). You don’t necessarily have to start so young, but the earlier the potty training begins, the easier the process will become later on. My goal at this young age was very simple, I wanted Alyssa to be familiar with the potty and its purpose, and have a very easy transition from being familiar to actually training and being successfully diaper-free.
Here are 5 things that really helped us along and made the potty training process a success!
1) Routine – Like all other things in a toddlers life, having a great potty routine is incredibly important. Our routine was to put her on the potty every diaper change, before and after each nap, meal, bath and outing. I found that having this routine was much easier than putting her onto the potty in 20 or 30 minute intervals, which can actually be quite exhausting for everyone.
2) Support and Consistency – The only way it could work I found, was by abiding to the routine each and every day and having the support from my husband and whoever else baby-sat Alyssa. If everyone was in on it, and we were all working together, then Alyssa figured out pretty quickly that potty training was part of her life. It was also a good way for her to get comfortable with others when she was ready to actually ask to go the washroom. I am grateful that I had so much support from my family and that I wasn’t the only one having to take her to the potty each and every time, making it a norm for her as well.
3) Encouragements and Rewards – Every pee and every poo counts! Every time she went we would clap and congratulate her and tell her that she was wonderful and a big girl. Alyssa loved the attention, and would often clap and get excited about it along with us. Even now, fully potty trained, Alyssa is still proud of herself for being a big girl and having to go on the potty (all by herself!). Giving her only positive attention and rewarding her for it each time she went really encouraged her to continue to want to do it. I have stayed completely away from any negative attention surrounding potty training, (never telling her that she was a bad girl or a baby if she had an accident, or pushing her to go when she didn’t want to), from what I have read, this only discourages potty training and in fact can make them regress from any progress that they had been making.
4) Staying Positive – Staying positive is really important in this process. If you are frustrated with potty training, chances are your toddler will be too. Having a really positive mind-set will definitely help along to be consistent with the routine, even when they regress, which does happen. Alyssa was so great at asking to go and then suddenly stopped. I continued with the potty routine anyway, and refused to get discouraged by this, until she started asking again. This happened a few times before she was fully trained. It is quite normal and really nothing to get worked up over. So long as potty training doesn’t come to a haul because of it, it shouldn’t take much to get them back on track.
5) Be Patient – Potty training does take time and a lot of energy out of you, especially when they start asking or showing signs that they need to go. This can be sometimes overwhelming. Being patient and going every time that they ask or give signs that they need to go is really important. Even if they ask 3 times in a row and make a game out of it, continuing to take them to the potty, really encourages their training. Also taking turns whenever you can with your partner or other supporters is a great way of dealing with the stress, and helps to sustain your level of patience.
Maybe this seems a little overwhelming, but I believe it is a much more gentler approach into introducing potty training and keeping up with it. I know that other methods are just as successful, but often start later on in the toddler’s life, putting more pressure and anxiety than necessary. Although this method may require more work, since it is a consistent routine, I found that we had never experienced any anxiety or stress surrounding potty training, and had been very successful with our trainee!
Good luck to all you potty training parents out there, and may you have much success with whatever method you choose to use!
P.S : Stay tuned for Potty Training in the works 201: Transitioning from the Potty to the Toilet