Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wet Ocean

wet o·cean [wet oh-shuhn]

– adjective/noun
1. toddler description of the toilet water and how it felt when he touched it

Origin: 2009 Owen


After a recent conversation with a friend about potty training, I was inspired to share how we go about the seemingly dreaded task at our house.  What is it about teaching children these necessary bathroom skills that strikes fear in our hearts?  Alas, after leading three children in the way of the potty, it does not seem so scary anymore.  A big task, to be sure, but nothing worth fretting over!

Our number one motto is, "Wait until they are ready!"  There is a lot of pressure to train early and while that may work for some, we've found that a few extra months in diapers saves tears and frustration for all involved.  Our boys trained around age three and Maddie was not quite two-and-a-half.  How do we know they are ready?  There are many ways to know and each child is different, but we looked for dry diapers most mornings, the child's awareness of bodily functions (hiding in the corner to poop, for example!), and their ability to climb onto the potty without lots of assistance.  Readiness doesn't always mean an obvious interest in the bathroom or toilet, but it does mean a definite ability to handle the task.  Potty training to us means training our children, not training ourselves.

Once a child is ready-- really ready-- to potty train, the process is fairly simple.  As soon as the child wakes up, we take them to the bathroom and change them into underwear.  We do not use Pull-ups or training underwear.  We transition directly into underwear.  Throughout the day, we remind them to use the potty about once an hour.  Sometimes they are able to go, sometimes they aren't, but we make sure there are ample opportunities to try and less chance for mess! Any time they are sucessful, we reward them with one small candy (an M&M or chocolate chip).  Pooping earns two candies.  Day One usually brings multiple accidents as the child is realizing how to follow body cues. We try to treat the accidents casually and keep on the schedule of taking the child to the bathroom a regular intervals.  Each day gets easier and before the week is over, we have a mostly-trained child.  When training is complete, the candy treats end.

When Gavin (our first) was training, we used a traditional toddler potty chair.  It was convenient, but we found that then we had to had to then take time to transition him to the adult toilet.  Plus we met with hesitation from him when he needed to use a public restroom.  With Maddie and Owen, we chose to train on the adult toilet with the aid of a child-sized potty seat.

During this time of intense training we do several things. 
  1. We stay home as much as possible.  If we leave the house, we have to switch back to diapers and this sends mixed messages.  We prefer to keep the underwear on all day.
  2. After a day or two, we keep underwear on the child during naps.  When they are training, we have found that they are ultra-aware of needing to use the bathroom and usually stay dry during a moderate time of sleep.
  3. We begin night-training simultaneously.  (cue scary music)


  1. We're *mostly* day-trained here, so I'm anxiously awaiting your next post! I'll add that new big-girl panties were a HUGE incentive for my Maddie. She loves wearing them, but she understands that means she has to use the big-girl potty!

  2. LOVE IT!!! Wish I had read this before Bubbie!!!

  3. I agree on the no pull ups or training pants.i think its easier for them to remember when they can feel an obvious lack of bulk on their bottoms:)

  4. Your method of potty training is pretty much exactly what we have done. And it WORKS!! Both my boys trained at 3 {I had some pressure to start earlier, but resisted} and they got it {through the night and all} in about a week or so. Granted, accidents occur, but sooooo much better than those prolonged weeks and weeks and weeks {or longer!} that I see other moms put in with the Pull Ups.


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