7 Steps to Potty Training ‘Success’

February 1, 2010

Are you looking for some foolproof steps to potty training your kids? Well, I have some that worked for us! We are definitely not 100% potty trained in the Watson household yet. Well, I am. We are working on Chris and the kids 😉

Lily is 100% in undies all the livelong day, but wears a Pull-Up at night to sleep. She has not woken up even close to dry yet, but we’re also less than a week in. According to lots of parents I know- this is ok to do. I have heard of other parents who had their kids in undies at night and just did a ton of laundry every day. I am not those ‘other parents’.

Topher is getting so great at telling us when he has to go, even if he is wearing a Pull-Up, which he does when we are out and about. He has occasional accidents in his undies still, but that’s ok! We are so proud of both of our kids we could throw up.

7 steps to potty training that worked for us!

Though I am by no means a potty training expert – I just potty trained an almost 2 and almost 3-year-old simultaneously. And I’ve learned a lot these last few weeks. So here are some of the things that we did that worked for us.

Now, please remember that we tried potty training about 3-4 months ago and that was a DISASTER. If you are potty training and it’s not going well- just STOP. Read my earlier posts about potty training, give thanks you are not me, and take a breather. For everyone’s sake. I have heard and read that potty training shouldn’t be hard, and that when your kid is ready it will be easy and painless. I never ever thought I would be able to say this- especially with potty training Lily, but it’s so true! It was pretty easy! Kind of…

Step 1 – Fail and move on.

Fail and move on. Say it with me! I might get this tattooed on my face.
We tried. We failed. We stopped. We moved on.

Step 2- Prepare ye the way.

After some time had passed from our failure, Chris and I started warning/telling/prophesying/claiming and proclaiming that one day there would be no diapers in the house. This gave Lily a chance to understand that she would HAVE to pee on the potty. We told her this starting in November. We did our potty training camp in January.

Lily likes to know what’s going on, and I think she really appreciated the warning. Topher on the other hand doesn’t really care what’s going on or when, he just wants to be a part of the fun. We did not prepare him at all,  at least not verbally the way we HAD TO with Lily. All kids are different. Even if they have the same genetic make-up.

Step 3- Comfort, not chaos.

They say to make sure things are not chaotic when embarking on the potty training journey. ‘They’ being ‘professional potty trainers/pediatricians/moms, etc… I will give them some kudos for this advice as well. It really is an important step in the potty training process!

If you as the parent are feeling crazy – then you will just transfer that crazy/frustration/uneasiness to your kids. So calendar a time when you are ready to do this thing! We did not have anything going on in January. We had been in the apartment long enough. We were in a good rhythm with our daily schedules. Everything was good to go.

The kids had been hanging out on their potties for quite a while, and Topher even peed a few times. Lily- not so much. We talked about pottying more and more as the day approached. We watched videos and read books about it. Again- more for and with Lily than with Topher.

Bonus – Get them excited!

Lily was pretty excited about undies this time cause she knew some of her friends were wearing them. We bought some that she and Topher got to pick out themselves, and this made the process more fun, and more real for both of them too. And me too. I could see the end of the diaper tunnel! What could we do with all that saved money from not buying diapers anymore??

Step 4- Pray about these steps to potty training!

Actually, for me, this was step 2. Post potty training failure. I don’t think I prayed all that hard about potty training the first time I did it. And then I failed. After that, I prayed and prayed and prayed. I prayed for Lily to be ready, and for us to know when that might be. I prayed for myself to be ready for anything- failure part 2, or success.

I was a mess. Like I was seriously scared. I was scared that Lily would legitimately never want to be potty trained. I was scared that we would fight again as we did before. I was afraid that I would lose my mind again as I did before. I needed peace, and to be calm and courageous to proceed with our plan. Therefore I needed to pray. And I thank Jesus for having helped us out as much as He did!

Step 5- Stock up.

‘Motivational tools’

During our first attempt to potty train, we bought some ‘big items’ to ‘entice/bribe’ the children to pee in the potty. It did NOT work then. So we still had these toys and brought them out the second time around. Topher  peed 3 times and we gave him his toy. He was so happy. And this made Lily want her toy a little more, so she peed 3 times that first day and received her toy. She was happy and I was so happy! But then the next day when the kids both had accidents on the floor, Chris took the toys away. And the kids didn’t really care. Toys/bribes may or may not work for you. They were not really a deal maker or breaker for us, which I was hoping they would be!

Potty going supplies

I also stocked up on juice boxes, yogurt drinks, candy, and stickers. These were the real tools we needed for potty training. The kids drank A LOT the first two days of potty training. Just to make them need to go. They got a reward for even just sitting on the potty. This made the day fun, and very sugary. Lots of teeth brushing occurred those days.

I thought the stickers might be more fun for the kids to put on their charts, but they didn’t care as much as I did. The chart was a good reminder for Chris and I to see how many pees made it into the potty. And we could see their progress every day, which felt like a parenting victory! Progress is always good. And it’s the motivation you need to keep up with all of the steps to potty training successfully!

Potty training tools

The stickers are more for the parents than the kids!

We also ‘stocked up’ on Pull-Ups, but hid them. We used to have a drawer with diapers in it in the living room. If the kids needed to be changed, they opened the drawer and brought us a diaper. Both of our kids, at some point, checked to see if there were diapers in the drawer. And there wasn’t a single one. They knew we were serious!

Step 6- Set the timer and go go go.

One of my girlfriends who has successfully potty trained her two girls told me that she set her microwave timer for every 20 minutes. Whenever that timer rang, her kids sat on the toilet. And they did this all day, for a few days. Except when they were napping. Cause everyone needs a break. So we did this, and it worked out well for us.

One thing that tripped me up a bit with Lily was that she would say she had to go and then would either not go, or take 20 minutes to go. I had visions of us being at Target for hours, in the dirty bathroom, waiting and waiting for Lily to pee. These ‘visions/nightmares’ were defeating and unnecessary! Don’t psyche yourself out!

The first day and a half was spent WAITING for the pee to flow. And it was frustrating. But when it started flowing- it’s like the flood gates were opened and there was no more waiting. Lily knew when she had to pee, and when she peed she did it as soon as she sat down. It was awesome and worth the wait!

Step 7- Keep on keepin on.

Every time your kid says they have to pee- get up and put them on the pot. They won’t always go, but if you don’t listen to them, they will have an accident sooner than later. Then you will probably both feel discouraged because of it. This happened with Topher once or twice… (learn from my mistakes people! I make tons of them!)

And like Lily, even though things may start slowly, they will pick up eventually. The whole thing is pretty exhausting for everyone, cause there is so much getting up and down. Setting the timer. Turning it off. Getting the carpet cleaner. Going to the bathroom. Getting more juice. Going to the bathroom to empty the potty. etc, etc. But in the end it all pays off! Just be prepared to work for your reward though.

Good luck, friend!

These are the steps to potty training that worked for US. We live in an apartment, so this is all we could do. I have heard of people basically sitting out in their back yard for a few days and letting their kids roam like wild animals. I probably would have tried it if that had been an option for us. But it wasn’t.

If you are about to embark on the potty training journey- I bid thee good luck! If you should happen to stumble, or fall off of your horse completely- that’s ok. Give it a couple weeks or months and try try again. Just know your kids, what they like, and what they need. For some kids this thing takes 3 days, and for others it takes a LOT MORE. And all of that is OK. Your kid WILL pee pee in the potty! And you can go buy yourself some shoes with all the money you are saving on not buying diapers and wipes!

And if you are needing some encouragement in your parenting journey with little ones, check out this podcast episode on surviving the early years!

Potty Training fun
Lily and Topher hanging out on the potty. Cause all the cool kids are doing it.

We love Topher’s potty from Ikea! It’s all just one piece and easy to wipe clean. And it’s $4.99. You can’t beat that!!! Lily’s potty is cute and looks like a real toilet, but is messier to clean. Simpler is often better!


7 Steps to Potty Training ‘Success’


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