Does anyone actually remember being potty trained? I don't think many of us actually recall the process, besides maybe getting some kind of treat for successfully going. But when we, adults, become parents, and it's time to potty train our own children, a rush of ideas, questions, and rules, flood our brains. Sure, we can prepare all we want. We can ask our fellow parenting friends what they did, we can ask our own parents for advice, and we can read tons of books on the subject. But the whole process might be a lot more difficult than we had anticipated... And that's totally okay! That kind of sums up parenting in general, right? We try until we succeed.
There are some things that we should definitely know about potty training before the time arrives, though, and they will help make the process a lot easier for us (knowing when our child is ready, knowing not one age fits all, etc.). After all, where does one begin?!
Here are 20 truths about potty training that all parents should know if they and their child are embarking on this new journey together. Just remember that patience is a virtue and to take it easy. It will click eventually!
20 It's More Of A Show Than Tell Kind Of Thing
Show-and-tell is not just a part of kindergarten: it can be part of the potty training process, too.
According to Fatherly, kids need to see their parents using the bathroom: "On the other hand, when parents have an open door policy, kids can check out how the process works. This helps them figure out that going poop or pee is no big deal. Big People do it. Little People do it."
This makes a lot of sense, right? If kids never see that their mom and dad use the bathroom, that might be strange for them to think they do it alone. So it's good to see that their whole family uses it in the beginning of the process.
19 Your Child Might Mistake Other Things For Toilets
As a post on Scary Mommy said, your kid might use other things as toilets. Yes. This might actually happen (and it would be about as much fun as it sounds...), so it's best to know ahead of time and not worry about it. Hopefully it doesn't happen a lot, but it might happen a few times.
Sure, this can get messy and it's not really something that any parent wants to deal with, but make sure to let them know which place is appropriate to relieve themselves in. Is going number two in front of 100 people at IKEA normal? No! So be sure to show your kid the difference.
18 You've Heard Of Giving Out Treats, But Try Wrapping Them
Now for the fun part of potty training: the treats. This is probably the only enjoyable part, so it makes sense that when you're potty training your child, you would give them some fruit or candy as a reward. Getting a treat is one happy incentive they won't mind abiding by.
According to Everyday Family, wrapping the treats might be a really helpful idea: "The one thing we did that really made a difference with my daughter (who had no interest in pooping on the potty!) was to buy and wrap prizes... We had done prizes before with no success, but she loved that they were wrapped! It was so motivating for her because she loved the surprise of unwrapping a prize!"
17 Your Kid Won't Be Cool With It All The Time
Thanks to one mom's perspective on Smart Parents, we know that it's common for a kid to want to be potty trained one day, having no problem using the toilet, and then turn around the next day and not want to use it at all.
Sujatha Rai shared about her son, "Some days he shows more interest in it than other days. I didn’t expect potty training to be smooth sailing, but honestly I didn’t think it would be this difficult either!”
16 It Matters If Your Kid Is Actually Ready
Fatherly says that while parents tend to be the ones to say, "Okay, I'm ready for my child to be potty trained now so let's start the process," it's really the kid's choice when they are ready. That is the most important factor: "In order for potty training to be successful and relatively painless, a child needs to show interest in using the bathroom. And those signs are often subtle (so to speak), like hiding behind a couch to poop in their pull-ups, or barging in on parents while they’re sitting on the toilet."
It's definitely helpful for parents to know the signs and to realize that their kid needs to show that they are into this idea.
15 It's Hard, No Doubt About It
Scary Mommy says that potty training your kid is definitely going to be hard. If any readers are new parents, you can probably say that figured parenthood would be difficult but had no idea just how hard it would be until you had your baby and they started growing up. And if anyone is trying to have your first child, and have some friends who are already parents, then you're most likely prepared for it all.
Of course, parenthood is full of wonderful things as well as hard things, and potty training seems like it's a very interesting experience that can feel very tough at times.
14 Accidents Will Happen
Every parent is familiar with their kid having some accidents, whether before or after they started to get potty trained; it's a common experience. A blog called Smart Parents says that parents should basically expect that their child will have some accidents along the way. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best, as they say.
We, of course, always want our child to be ahead of the curve and to succeed in all things, but we have to be prepared for hardships along the way to soften the blow.
13 There Is No One Age Where Your Kid Has To Start Potty Training
A post on Just Mommies shares a very important, significant truth about potty training: there is no one age where children have to be potty trained. Or one age where they begin to learn.
That's interesting to know and takes some of the pressure off, doesn't it? It can be easy to think, "So-and-so's child started learning at age two so mine has to as well," but your child might not be ready yet. Waiting a few months to a year could make all the difference.
The article continues saying, "The perfect age to begin potty training is different for every child. Your child's best starting age could be anywhere from 18 to 32 months. Pre-potty training preparation can begin when a child is as young as 10 months."
12 But It's Safe To Say Kids Are Potty Trained Before Kindergarten
At the same time, this blog post on Parenting Squad says that there is no reason to freak out that your child won't be potty trained by the time that they are about to start kindergarten. That is definitely a fear for many moms and dads, though, and something that they think about a lot. That seems to be the thing that worries them the most through this whole process.
When you think about it, though, the most common experience is learning how to use the toilet and the bathroom before starting kindergarten, and it's more common than not that it will happen to your child.
11 Your Kid Might Be Nervous/A Bit Scared
This mom shared on Reddit that her child is scared of using the toilet: "If me or my husband can tell she's running off to go to the bathroom in her diaper we will say 'hey let's go sit on the potty' and she melts down starts crying and begging not to, almost like she's scared of it. I'm at a complete lost at what to try next so I've just stopped for the time being. I know people always say she will do it when she's ready, but she's almost 3, and I'm worried she will be in diapers until kindergarten (irrational thought I know)."
This definitely seems like a common fear, but it's important to remember that no child is alike. Their time will come.
10 Going Number Two Is Tougher Than One
A story in The Huffington Post calls going number two "the wild card" for parents who are teaching their children to be potty trained.
First of all, that's pretty funny. And second of all, that's very true.
For the majority of children, it's safe to say that going number one is truly no big deal — that's the easiest thing to show them how to do in the toilet. But number two? That's a different story. I don't remember what potty training was like for me, but I'm sure the entire thought-process was just too abnormal to seem normal at the time.
9 It Might Be Easier If Your Kid's Friends Are Also Learning To Use The Potty
It's always nice to know that your friends are going through something similar — no matter the situation, no matter the age. The same can be said when a child is potty training. So if any parents out there can team up together to get all the kids potty training in the same time frame — go for it!
A blog post on Parenting Squad says that if a child's friends are also in the process of being potty trained, that could be a huge help when it comes to that child's progress. Kids do copy each other and the post mentions that kids sometimes all go to the bathroom at the same time when they're in preschool and beyond.
8 Communicate About It Openly And Often
It's always good when parents talk to their children about whatever is going on; whether they're explaining that their birthday is approaching, that they have to start school soon, or, in this case, that they are going to learn to use the bathroom.
The Huffington Post gives parents this advice: talk to your children a lot about what is happening. Ask them if they have to go. Keep asking (even if you just did). Every parent is pretty familiar with that scenario, right?
7 'Rewards' Can Be Anything
Parenting Squad suggests that although stickers are the most popular reward to give a child who is using the toilet, that doesn't have to be the only way to go.
Rewards can be anything and parents can definitely figure out what their child would like the most. Sure, if they really are excited by stickers and that's going to bring them joy, then by all means, stickers are the best choice. But if they like something else or if stickers just aren't working out, it's totally fine to change course and pick another type of reward that your child will respond to better.
6 Consistency Is Key
The same post on Parenting Squad also says that parents need to be consistent with the way that they're potty training their kid if they want it to work out (and, of course, that's the goal they're after). Consistency is key for everything in life. If we want to learn to love the taste of vegetables, we have to be consistent and eat them a few days in a row. If we want to workout more, we have to keep the plans that we made with ourselves to go to the gym or to a yoga class.
5 You Have To Buy A Lot Of Stuff
This is definitely no surprise to parents since kids need a lot of stuff. Every parent has had the experience of leaving the house to visit friends or even just go out for lunch, and it takes half an hour to just get out the door because there is so much stuff to bring. By the time they're done, it looks like they're going away for weeks instead of just a few hours.
The Huffington Post gives the advice that when you're potty training your child, you should realize that you'll have to buy a lot of stuff to prepare. For one thing, your kid needs one of those child potties that you can bring anywhere (if that's your style).
4 Your Kid Might Still Have Accidents During Bedtime
Even if potty training is going super well, parents should take note that their child might still have some accidents when they go to bed.
One parent posted on Reddit and asked a potty training expert who came up with the popular "Oh Crap!" method. She said, "I followed the suggestions in the OCPT book. My 2.5-year-old girl has been potty trained for about three months now. The last week, she has been having accidents in her bed at night, which is very unusual, because she never does. Today, she just peed herself during dinner. Is this a thing or do I need to be taking her to see her pediatrician?"
The expert replied, "Since in both cases the accident seems to be at night, it could be that she's taking in too much fluid before bedtime."
3 It Can Take Three Months To One Year
Thanks to this post on Just Mommies, we know that there can a pretty long timeline for potty training.
It would be awesome if you started the process and your child was potty trained within a day or even a week... and that's true both for you and your child. But that's basically a dream or at least that's what it sounds like based on the experiences that many parents have had. This post suggests that potty training can take three months to one year, which is always good to be prepared and to have a general timeframe, so this one seems pretty standard.
2 Kids Need Some Help
This mom's post on Everyday Family sheds light on something that is another important part of potty training: your kid needs some help and you have to be there for them. This mom said, "Before I got a fold-up travel potty seat, my daughter fell into a public toilet once. Thankfully, it was a freshly cleaned one!"
Following what this silly mom shared, our kids might be learning to potty train or are more independent once they're trained, but they're still going to need our help from time to time.
1 Your Kid Might Seem To Get The Hang Of It... Then Go Back
This post on Fatherly advices parents that their kid might seem to get the hang of potty training at first, and then they'll go back to where they were before, for whatever reason.
It's super helpful for parents to know this before they start the process of potty training their child. Instead of worrying that it's a bad sign that their kid has just backtracked all their progress, they can rest easy knowing that this is common among toddlers.
Like anything else in this parenting journey, potty training is full of ups and downs, but you will definitely get the hang of it.
Sources: Huffingtonpost.ca, Parentingsquad.com, Justmommies.com, Fatherly.com, Scarymommy.com, Everydayfamily.com