How to Potty Train by a Mom of 4

Jenny/ September 28, 2020/ Family Life

Ok, so first off, I want to just give a disclaimer here. I’m not a potty training expert, or an early childhood development “expert”. I’m just a mom of 4 kids under 9 who I’ve successfully potty trained. So, if you’re looking for advice from someone who’s been to school for this you’re outta luck, sorry! If instead you’re looking for advice from someone who’s been there, done that, and knows how to potty train then keep reading πŸ™‚

What are my credentials for giving potty training advice?

I have 4 kids, ages 9, 6, 3 and 19 months old! And guess what? They’re all potty trained. Haha, yeah I guess you hoped that about the older 3, πŸ™‚ But the last one, my 19 month just got potty trained a couple of weeks ago. We are completely diaper free and let me tell ya’ll its AWESOME! Anyway, I thought there might be some other mamas out there who would really, really really like to quit changing diapers on a toddler but need a little help.

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The basics…

I want to make something very clear. There is NOT a step by step potty training manual out there that works. When I was a new mom I read a book from a mom of 1 child who in clear detail spelled out exactly HOW TO potty train in a weekend. And she was very scientific, I mean she gave all the reasons why and how and research, yada yada. I believed she knew just what she was talking about so I went for it.

My first child was a boy and at 1 1/2 years he potty trained for #2 but still peed in his diaper. Then 2 weeks before he turned 2 he completely potty trained in 1 week. Nighttime, daytime, no more diapers! I thought, man this is EASY!

Then came my second son a year later. Of course when you have 2 kids under 3 life gets alot more interesting. So when it came time to potty train this boy I didn’t have the time or attention that I’d had with just my first. And this boy was completely different! It took him 3 months of potty training for him to get it and he still had accidents at night sometimes and occassionally in the daytime. Why? Well, I can only guess but he’s just got a different temperment than our oldest. He’s very high strung, sensitive and extremely active.

Enter my daughter into this crazy mix and when its time to potty train her I REALLY don’t have any extra time because I have a 8, 5, 2 1/2 and 6 month old. Whew! I basically told my daughter that you have to potty train and 3 days later she was DONE. Seriously, this sounds crazy but she was, night and day!

This summer my 1 1/2 year old decides she wants to go potty like her older sister so I start taking her when she asks. Then one Sunday I just keep taking her and she stays dry ALL day. I’m like, ok we can do this and now she’s done completely too! My earliest yet and people I am HAPPY about this!

Does one size fits all potty training work?

In my opinion, NO! Every kid is different and honestly all of mine took different approaches. Yes, my last kid was the easiest but who knows why. Was it my experience? Was it her temperament? Was it a mix of things? I tried to potty train my #2 son like my #1 son and it didn’t work. What did it with him was A. patience, B. practice, C. perseverance. What worked with daughter #1 didn’t work with daughter #2, most likely because of the age difference. So, remember, when you read an amazing article about “You CAN potty train in 3 days” that this only applies if you have a certain type of child.

What works?

The first thing you need to remember is freaking your kids out on the potty is not a good thing. The best thing you can do is take them potty with you and if possible put a little potty by you so they can “go” on it at the same time. Kids are kinda scared of falling in a big toilet and this doesn’t bode well for potty training in my experience. If you must use a big toilet get an attachment that sits on top with handles so they feel secure.

That being said, my oldest wanted a sit on top potty but had a hard time learning to pee standing up. It helps if Dad can get involved here and it helps if they can pee outside πŸ™‚ Yes, probably every boy thinks its hysterical to pee off the porch!

How to get them to sit on the potty when you start to potty train?

In my experience this is one of the biggest obstacles to successfully potty training a toddler! They just DON’T want to sit still!

Books are my first choice because they’re interesting without requiring too much attention like a tablet. In my experience if you give a little one a phone or tablet they get so involved with it they won’t go potty. A simple snack like a cracker can work well to occupy them until they can go potty.

Do I use rewards?

Some resources will tell you to make a sticker chart, buy toys ECT… That didn’t work with ours. Instead I gave a simple treat like 1 chocolate chip for going potty or a homemade healthy gummy. As an ultimate reward they got big girl or boy underwear and a toy. It worked without going overboard and soaking them in sugar😝.

A basic way to potty train:

Here’s what a normal potty training day would look like for me.

  1. As soon as they wake up take them potty. My kids all stayed dry at night early on with the exception of my 2nd boy.
  2. Put them in a pull-up, cloth diaper or let them run around in a longer shirt.
  3. Take them potty every 30 minutes and make sure to ask them if they need to to potty (even if they just went).
  4. Praise them when they try or actually go!! We made up silly songs and they loved them! Brag on them to Daddy or to bigger siblings.
  5. Before nap or bedtime take them potty. This is super important!
  6. Be patient! Your child may take a few days or a few months but they WILL get it.
  7. If I have to take them somewhere I put them in a pull up and take them potty frequently. Goimg to the bathroom someone else can take awhile!

Should I wait to potty train until they start on their own?

Well you can do what you want of course but some children will take a long time that way! I think of it this way. I’m giving my children the opportunity to have control over a body function. This is a great thing! Just like I want them to control their tempers or actions I want them to control their ability to pee and poop. It helps EVERYONE in the family (not to mention no more $$ on diapers!!).

I hope this encourages you to try to start potty training now! Remember you’ll have setbacks and days they just don’t do that great. Have patience, have perseverance and one day soon you’ll be singing a no diapers day song!

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About Jenny

Jenny is a homeschooling mom of 4 and wife to a wonderful husband. She enjoys reading, a good cup of coffee, and spending time outdoors with her family. You can find her writing about Jesus, homeschooling, and life on her blog Our Inconvenient Family, and contributing regularly at Lifeschooling Conference.