Potty training—or “potty learning,” as I have heard it called—is in full swing at our house. N has graduated from diapers, but to what, I am not quite sure. We are in this strange in-between phase, using a mixture of Pull-Ups and underwear and still having accidents. Unexpectedly, our whole routine seems a bit off. And I’ve had to reluctantly accept that—though I have been using the potty myself for close to 30 years—I still have some things to learn through this process too.
For close to three years, I have assumed that it would be easy for N to learn to use the potty. I am not sure what I based this on—probably statements from other parents like “Oh yes, girls have a much easier time learning to use the potty,” or nonchalant declarations like “Oh yes, my 2-year-old daughter Susie is fully potty trained—it really wasn’t that hard,” etc, etc. Oh yes??
I heard experts say you could fully potty train a child in one weekend by letting them run around bare-bottomed and have accidents. Been bare, done that, still having accidents.
I am beginning to accept that this is harder than I thought it would be. I read all the online advice months ago—before she was even 2—and really, truly thought potty training would go smoothly. I thought we’d have a few accidents, N wouldn’t like how it felt and she would start going to the potty. Simple as that. Ha!
We’ve been trying all summer and it’s slow going. Currently she has about a 50% success rate. My husband and I have always tried to be extremely patient and encouraging—e.g., effusively cheering when she uses the potty, giving clear instructions about what to do when she feels the urge to go, checking in with her often about whether she needs to go, etc. And we have always been very tolerant when accidents happen.
But today I lost my cool a little. N was sitting in a nice fabric chair with only her underwear on and did a big pee. I got stern with her because (a) I was frustrated about the chair, (b) I had been checking in with her and she told me she didn’t need to go, (c) she knows what to do—she’s been going to the potty about half the time over the past couple of months, and (d) I felt that she wasn’t even trying.
So I got upset. I tried to explain that I was upset because she didn’t even try to go to the potty—not because of the accident. But I quickly realized how confusing that must sound to a 2 ½ year old, and felt bad for getting upset.
I am still hoping it will all click into place and one day we will be fully potty trained, but for the moment N and mama are both “potty learning…”
I can SO relate Julie!!! I feel your frustration as can Brian, as he’s been called twice to pick up Lily from Pre School where they must be potty trained… We are about 90% there… but SO hard to keep our cool. Thanks for reminding me that WE are also learning 🙂
It WILL happen!! Some things work better for different kids, however, if I may offer what worked best for us…a kitchen timer!! I, too, found myself becoming very frustrated with the “I don’t need to pee-pee” only to find a puddle two minutes later. I started setting the oven timer, in very small increments at first, then gradually increasing the time in between. Regardless of wether or not she pee’d the last time, she still had to sit on the potty when the timer went off because “the timer said it was potty-time”. In no time she got the hang of it and I also learned to read the signs of a possible accident. It’s those times that we (still sometimes) have to say, “Let’s go to the potty, it’s a race!”, instead of asking for a yes or no response.
Thanks for the comments, Julia and Mrs JY! The timer sounds like a great idea. Luckily N’s preschool didn’t require her to be potty trained before she started, and the teachers really partnered with us on potty training. N has made lots of progress in the past couple of months and we’re now 85% of the way there—but she still has accidents when she’s distracted and not paying attention. So the kitchen timer may be the solution — we will have to try it this weekend!