Potty training: Getting past regression

Vanessa knew potty training her daughter Lauren would be a challenge, but she didn’t know that regression — taking steps backward instead of moving forward — would be a big part of progress.

“We had gotten bits of advice from people as to what worked for them, but really, we didn’t know how it would pertain to her,” Vanessa said. “We kind of had this idea that they potty train right away and everything’s perfect and they never have an accident again.”

When Lauren started to potty train at 30 months, Vanessa thought they had everything under control. Things were going smoothly for a while, but then Lauren regressed big time. Vanessa didn’t want to put her back in diapers, so they began a process of figuring out what to do.

Taking the pressure off, Vanessa said, was a relief for everyone. It was also particularly special for Vanessa to see Lauren successful and proud of herself again.

“It was a big moment in our house, for her and for us as parents,” Vanessa said. “We kept feeling like we were failing – we were failing her, we were failing us, we were failing. In reality, there is no failing. It’s all part of moving forward.”

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Potty Training Tips for mom, by moms!

All the resources a mom could want! Advice from peers and experts, charts and product reviews, Potty Training Concepts has all kinds of information.

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Potty training… A laughing matter

Want a recipe for potty training success?

Here goes: one sturdy toilet, an infinite amount of patience, and a good sense of humor. That’s exactly what Sheila used when training her two boys.

“Potty training was frustrating, but for us, it was also funny,” she said. “It’s so hard to teach them how to do it, but if you can make it light-hearted, the frustration will go away.”

Being able to laugh definitely helped keep the accidents from becoming exasperating, not just for Sheila but also for her two boys. She remembered how anxious her little brother would get when he was potty training and had an accident, and she didn’t want to make her boys feel the same tension.

“My parents never punished my brother or anything, but there was still the fear and the embarrassment,” Sheila said. “My kids, I guess they just don’t have that because we made it so much fun.”

Here are 4 techniques that Sheila and her fiance use to make potty training fun:

1. Introduce them to the toilet.

By using the potty in front of her sons when they were about 2 years old, Sheila and her fiancé were able to show her sons the purpose of the toilet. She also got them involved in its function by letting them flush afterward. “The fun part was always flushing because they liked the sound and they liked watching it go down,” she said. “They had fun with that.”

Dumping diaper messes into the potty also helped her boys understand that, oh, that’s where that stuff goes.

2. Give them a target.

Cereal’s not just for breakfast anymore. Throw a couple Cheerios or Fruit Loops into the toilet and give little boys a target. “It’s a little game so it’s fun, but at the same time it’s teaching them to pee in the water and not all along the side of the toilet,” Sheila said. “Very helpful, especially for boys.”

3. Track their progress.

Sheila made a progress chart and bought some stickers so that each time one of her boys went pee or poop successfully they could celebrate by decorating their chart.

“Praise was really important to my boys,” she said. “When they’d finish going, they’d say, ‘I want stickers.’ They loved the progress chart.”

4. Communicate your strategies with others.

Since Sheila and her fiancé were enrolled in school full time, her twin boys had to go to daycare or to their grandparents house sometimes during the course of potty training. She explained the strategies and reward systems they were using and also got some helpful tips from the daycare. “We were surprised to find that the daycare kind of potty trained them by taking them to the bathroom as often as possible,” she said. “They also said a lot of times they use washing hands as an excuse for them to go potty. The teachers reiterated what we were doing at home, and we reiterated what the teachers do at daycare.”

It’s very important to communicate with whoever is taking care of the children, whether it’s the parents or the grandparents or a babysitter or the child-care center. If it’s the same routine, then the kids will be more comfortable that way.

Potty training hasn’t just given Sheila’s twin sons a sense of accomplishment, but it’s also made her feel proud of her boys – even if she is sad that the independence means they’re growing up.

“It makes me feel like I’m doing it right, or at least I’m doing something right,” she said. “I’m really happy and really relieved that they’re potty trained, but at the same time they’re getting closer to growing up. They’re not babies anymore.”

For more help with potty training, check out these resources we’ve found, including one with a sticker chart just like Sheila’s.

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Toddler Terror
About.com’s resident pediatrician teaches you the best ways to deal with your formerly-sweet bundle of joy.

Be A Pampers Parent
Get advice from Caroline and other parent experts at the Pampers Parenting Institute, where you can find information on your toddler, preschooler or infant.

The Potty Place
At Let’s Talk Potty Training, the experts at Pampers offer advice, videos from other potty training mommies and even printable toilet-time activities to share with your toddler.

3 essential potty training tools

Fara thought that having an older son would make potty training easier for her little boy. But she quickly learned that it’s not always easier the second time around.

Her first son was very cooperative through potty training and caught on fairly quickly, but her younger son, even though he wants to be just like his big brother in every other way, wasn’t as eager to use the big boy bathroom.

“My younger son plays the games his brother likes, he wants do to karate like his brother, everything, but he hasn’t been working with us to potty train like I thought he would,” Fara said. “We know he has to go, and he knows he has to go, but he’s so playful and energetic that it’s been a challenge to get him to stop playing and go to the restroom. We’ve learned a lot this time around.”

1. Rely on family and friends for help and ideas.

Fara said her mom has provided a lot of help this time around, especially because Fara works full time. Her mom takes her son to the bathroom every half hour or every hour, and Fara said she was so grateful for that suggestion and those she’s received from other moms.

“It’s also useful when you talk to other moms who can share tips about what worked for them,” she said. “Somebody might have a different idea than you do and if yours gets old, you might try something new.”

2. Invent games that make going to the bathroom fun.

Fara gets her son excited to potty by telling him to “put the fire out, you’re the fire engine.”

She also add flushable things to the toilet, like leaves or flushable toys, and lets her son practice target shooting. “He tries to point at them and that makes it a little more interesting for him to go,” she said.

3. Reward your child’s successes

When her son first started using the potty to pee, Fara would buy him little gifts, but when he went poo, she said it was a huge deal.

“We would either take him to Chuck E. Cheese or get a bigger gift so that he would feel like this was a big achievement for him,” she said. “We made sure he knew why he was getting this gift – because he went to the potty – and we would tell him that he was growing up, and if he kept doing well, he could do more of the things his brother does, like taking different classes.”

Fara admits she was hesitant at first about using rewards. She said she didn’t want to have to bribe him to do what was expected of him, but now she thinks of it more as encouragement than a prize.

“It’s more like telling him, ‘You did something very important and you’re being appreciated for it,'” she said.

Fara expects that in the next few months, her younger son will be an old pro at using the potty. In the meantime, she’s continuing to push, encourage and keep it as fun as possible.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

The Potty Place
At Let’s Talk Potty Training, the experts at Pampers offer advice, videos from other potty training mommies and even printable toilet-time activities to share with your toddler.

Toddler Terror
About.com’s resident pediatrician teaches you the best ways to deal with your formerly-sweet bundle of joy.

Productive Parenting
From infants to young adults and everything tween, Parenting.org offers tips and advice to help your child be all you wish you could have been and all she is capable of.

The Twos and Threes
Parenting Toddlers gives you useful tips on everything from maximizing your baby’s safety to avoiding mommy burnout.

The Potty… a surprising place to bond

Farrah hadn’t even thought about potty training when Bryanna, at 16 months, asked to go to the bathroom.

“Everybody says start at 2, so I considered whatever she did before then to be practice,” Farrah said. “I got a potty seat, and I asked her if she wanted to go every now and then if I saw her thinking about it or heading to one of her spots-she has corners where she goes to the bathroom. I thought it was really early for her to be potty training, so I kept it a no-pressure situation and tried to make it an enjoyable experience.”

It turned out to be a great time for some mother-daughter bonding.

Here are some of the things Farrah did early on to make the potty training process flow a little more freely.

  • Try to dispel fears.

Farrah knew a lot kids are afraid of flushing the toilet or sitting on it, so she tried to get rid of all the fear. Bryanna was really scared of the flushing at first, so Farrah said, “Let’s flush the toilet together.” Bryanna put her hand on Farrah’s, and they’d push down on it together.

“She seemed okay because we made a game out of it,” Farrah said. “We’d say, ‘Bye, bye water!’ I think that took attention off the actual sound of the flushing, and now she’s not afraid anymore.”

  • Create potty-time activities.

Having activities near the potty has certainly made using the bathroom more fun for Bryanna. Farrah kept a lot of books on hand for Bryanna to read on the potty, books that she only gets to use when she’s on the potty. She loves the Wiggles, so she has a Wiggles book that sings songs to her, and she just sits there. They also got a brand new flip-up book, too, just for the bathroom.

“She rarely sits down to read a book, unless we’re going to bed, so I feel like it’s a great time for me to teach her,” Farrah said.

Before the books, Farrah said it was all about the toilet paper.

“She loves the toilet paper,” she said. “The first thing we did was take the toilet paper and throw it in between our legs. That was the game, and it worked for her.”

  • Keep the potty accessible to the child.

Farrah keeps the potty in the bathroom where Bryanna can get it and put it on herself. Everything is really accessible to her, and because she can control the set up, she’s more comfortable with it.

  • Celebrate success.

If Bryanna pees in the potty, Farrah said, they get really excited. And if she poops, they make a huge deal out of it.

“We stand there and we clap,” Farrah said. “She sees that it’s really exciting and she wants to do it.”

  • Use accidents as a teaching tool.

Sometimes, Farrah said, Bryanna will go and pee on the floor and then say that she had an accident.

“She’s really forthcoming about it, which is really nice,” she said. “We’ll just clean it and she stands next to me, and interestingly, she gets upset a little bit that she’s had the accident. I tell her it’s okay that she had the accident and ask her, ‘Where do we go when we have to pee or poo? We go in the potty.'”

  • Don’t rush them.

They may say they have to do it, but it may take kids 10 minutes to get comfortable on the potty. Don’t give them a time limit. Ask them when you have time to sit. Sometimes it’s 20 or 30 minutes just sitting there. Farrah feels it’s like anything else — you just have to follow their lead. They know where they are and when they’re ready.

For more help with potty training, see what these resources have to offer:
Toddler Terror
About.com’s resident pediatrician teaches you the best ways to deal with your formerly-sweet bundle of joy.

Be A Pampers Parent
Get advice from Caroline and other parent experts at the Pampers Parenting Institute, where you can find information on your toddler, preschooler or infant.

The Potty Place
At Let’s Talk Potty Training, the experts at Pampers offer advice, videos from other potty training mommies and even printable toilet-time activities to share with your toddler.

Lessons from the Clinic
Get all you need to know about timing, technique and accidents from the Mayo Clinic.

Potty Training: Proof that every child is different!

Sheree knows a thing or two about potty training. She ought to… after all, she’s been through it five times.

Teaching her daughters (ages 7, 6, 5 and 3-year-old twins) to use the potty taught Sheree that when it comes to potty training, one thing’s for certain: “Every child is different.”

Each of her daughters, she said, has a different personality, and consequently, each had a different learning experience.

“My oldest child caught on pretty quickly,” Sheree said. “It just came pretty easily for her, and she wanted to go to the bathroom. I would give her directions, and she would follow them pretty well. My other girls took more time.”

Although each girl presented a different challenge, Sheree came up with a basic set of rules to help her daughters potty train.

  • Getting them comfortable on the potty is the first step.

To make their daughters comfortable, Sheree and her husband bought them a potty top. Now when they get ready to go to the bathroom, they put their potty top on and feel less afraid they’ll fall, she said.

  • Siblings can be great motivators.

“Potty training my twins was a little easier because their big sisters were helping them,” Sheree noted. “Their sisters were great when it came to celebrating.”

Sheree said they didn’t do anything too big because they wanted the girls to know that using the toilet was expected; still, she wanted them to know that she and her husband were proud of them. So, anytime they went, Sheree told all of the girls to go into the bathroom and clap.

“That seemed to be a good reinforcement for us, especially with all their sisters saying, ‘You’re a big girl.’ They liked that,” she said.

  • Staying dry through the night takes getting up during the night.

Sheree offered two tips if you’re having problems in the middle of the night with bedwetting: always wake up in the middle of the night and take them at least once, and don’t give them anything to drink late.

  • Accidents happen.

“We didn’t have too many accidents, but when we did, they would just come tell me,” Sheree said. After one night out resulted in her daughter sporting pee pants, she learned to always pack an extra pair of clothes. Even if you think they’ve got it down, they might forget about the potty when they’re not at home.

  • Be patient and consistent and you’ll be successful.

“Patience is key when you’re potty training,” said Sheree. “Your child will need to get used to using the potty, and you’re not going to know what to do when you first start training them, so it’s important to be patient. You also have to be consistent. Be consistent in taking them to the bathroom and in whatever your form of underwear or diapers that you put on them.”

Sheree suggests creating a routine to help them get the hang of it and help you stay consistent.

For advice from other potty training moms and even printable toilet-time activities to share with your toddler, the experts at Pampers offer advice at Let’s Talk Potty Training. Also, check out these other resources.

Toddler Terror
About.com’s resident pediatrician teaches you the best ways to deal with your formerly-sweet bundle of joy.

Productive Parenting
From infants to young adults and everything tween, Parenting.org offers tips and advice to help your child be all you wish you could have been and all she is capable of.

The Twos and Threes
Parenting Toddlers gives you useful tips on everything from maximizing your baby’s safety to avoiding mommy burnout.

Mothering Mayhem
See what Capessa blogger and mother of three Erin Monroe does in her spare time at Finding Yourself.