Potty training our son took almost a full year. He was two years and three months when we started, and he was really interested in it. I’d even stretch to say excited about it. We did the whole unveiling of his very own potty and bought special “big-boy underwear” explaining that they were for when he was done with diapers.
He was on his way, and in two months we were close to trying to go diaper-less. We weren’t pushing, but suggesting. Everything we read said “he will do it when he is ready, don’t push.” So we didn’t. And as I said, he was doing well. He didn’t always tell us when he needed to go, but he did occasionally, and if we asked him if he had to, he would tell us. We felt good about his (our) path towards being potty trained.
Then it happened. I wound up in the hospital on bed rest for a month. His life was turned upside down and his routine was out the window.
When I had his sister a month later, it was a very difficult time for all of us. My daughter was born at just under 26 weeks, so we were a mess trying to mentally and emotionally adjust to the circumstances. It was a couple months before we leveled out some and got some sort of a schedule back in our lives. Though, it wasn’t until she was home that we were able to truly get into a regular routine again.
The real fight started a few weeks into his sister being home.
He began to flat out refuse to use the potty. The more he refused, the more worried we became. He was 5 months away from starting preschool, and they won’t allow him to attend in diapers. Oh, did I mention it’s private school? Not cheap and already paid for. I guess worried is an understatement. We had been ok with not pushing him, because we had time. We were holding “when he’s ready he will do it” in our minds. Now we started thinking “what if he doesn’t?”
That’s when we started trying to figure out the potty training tips.
The first thing we tried was a reward system for pottying. The whole family went to CVS to get the supplies together. He was super excited for the new “special potty board” we were getting. Even more exciting was picking out his new stickers. We set it up that he got one sticker for peeing in the potty, an extra sticker if his diaper was dry when he successfully went to the potty, and two stickers for pooping in the potty. At 10 stickers he could pick out a prize from his new prize bucket. (Which his dad had filled with dollar store toys)
It worked great! For about a week. We thought we had it, he was using the potty and rarely had wet diapers. Pooping wasn’t going as well, but we were on our way. Then he kind of just stopped caring. He would potty sometimes, but not often. He would fight us on it. We would point out that he could get stickers, he didn’t care. We would show him the prizes he could be getting, he didn’t care. I am sure desperation began to show through occasionally as we began to feel defeated. Also, I was starting to see my own stubbornness staring back at me. So that was fun.
Around the same time, he started fighting us on naps. This is a whole side story, but I’ll answer your question- yes, he still needed them. When we could get him to take one, he would sleep for three hours. No joke. However, the fight was getting long and painful. So was the fight for pottying.
So we made a deal.
Ok, maybe it was bribery. Either way, we were at the end of our rope so we went to “If you potty in the potty, you don’t have to nap” It worked for two whole days. He also started behaving better on the whole for those two days. Then it stopped working.
What finally worked
We had been against the 3-day no underwear method. Mostly, we were worried about pee all over the house. Especially with how defiant he was becoming about everything. But we felt like we were out of options, and getting to be out of time. So I looked it up and we decided to go for it the following Tuesday.
Not only is he now in his big boy underwear, but he has mostly dry nights now as well. At night we still have to wake him twice to potty, but he goes without a fight (for the most part).
What we did is exactly this:
We moved his potty into the room we spend the most time in.
We spent three days at home, primarily in that room. He wore no diaper and no pants the whole time.
One of us was always with him and focused on him. Whether playing with him, watching t.v. with him, reading to him- everything was with him and focused on him.
We made sure he always had a drink, and encouraged him to drink often.
We asked him every 15 minutes if he had to potty, and every hour had him sit on the potty even if he said no. (The beginning of the first day was probably a bit more often)
The second day, his dad took him to the store for just an hour. Only in shorts, no underwear. Not having underwear on helps prevent them from feeling like they are wearing a diaper. The thought is that it prevents that sense of security, so it lessens the chance of an accident. When they came home he sat on the potty and the shorts came back off.
The third day, he came out with me for about two hours. We went to a few different stores and I asked if he had to potty at each store when we got there and before we left. He didn’t potty while we were out, and when we got home sat on the potty and his shorts came off again.
At night he went diaperless and pantsless also.
We woke him up 2-3 times over night and had him sit on the potty. He had at least one accident each of those first nights. I almost decided to put him back in diapers to keep from having to wake him, but within a week he was holding it until we came in and having mostly dry nights. I’m super happy we kept with it.
I wont say this method was magic. But it was close.
The fourth day we had to go without pants and underwear again because he started treating them like a diaper, and the fifth day we went to just shorts. By the sixth day he was in underwear with no accidents and on the seventh day we were going on a six hour car ride without accidents. Complete win. It took about as long to stop having accidents at night, but in the several nights we were on vacation he didn’t have one.
After vacation we had a few accidents and close calls, but he is doing amazingly. Along with using the bathroom instead of a diaper, he has started behaving better. The confidence and attention he has found in using the potty has made all of the difference in the world.
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