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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