How to Potty Train a Toddler

Whoever said that potty training a toddler is easy clearly didn’t have stubborn kids! I know there are tricks and things that people have discovered along the way, but potty training for the first time is definitely an interesting experience.

Since my daughter was getting close to her 2 year birthday, people had started asking if we had started potty training her, if we had a “potty chair” for her, and all those things. Of course we’ve had a potty for her for quite some time, but getting her to go to it willingly was another story!

I had hoped that she would be easy to potty train since she picks up on things faster than I do, sometimes, but this was the one thing that was conquering her instead of her conquering it.

We had started to notice that she knew when she would have to go number 2, because she was asking us to take off her pants (and sometimes her shirt) so she could get comfortable and would run to the front door to watch TV while she started going. Going number 1 is hard to catch since she just lets it flow, and eventually (yet quickly) her diaper gets full. Fast.

We had started trying to get her to go to the bathroom and just sit on it with her diaper on, but she wasn’t having it. We had tried sitting her on the big potty with the baby potty attachments so she could feel like Mommy and Daddy and go like a Big Girl, but she wasn’t having that either!

I had decided that, since I didn’t really know much of anything on how to potty train a toddler, I went on the internet and even Googled how to potty train a child, how to potty train girls, how to potty train a stubborn child (because that’s exactly what she is!) just to see what I was doing wrong, and what I could do to get her comfortable with even the word “potty”. Of course the common things were rewards, and praise etc. All of which I was already doing. So what exactly was I doing wrong? Potty training children is NOT easy, especially stubborn children, regardless if it’s a boy or girl.

We had recently gone to my father’s since my brother and his girlfriend had arrived in town with their new baby for the weekend, and Sophia decided she needed to go number 2 (poop). My dad had told me to try to get her to go to the bathroom, and I explained how difficult it was with her, and had tried encouraging her to go, but she started crying and jumping and all those things indicating that she REALLY didn’t want to go. Of course his words of advice were that I needed to get rid of her fear of going to the potty. Well of course, but HOW?!

Google became a friend of mine again. Tried Googling how to get rid of a child’s fear of the potty, with numerous keywords, and rephrasing with absolutely no luck. So who better to get answers from than the woman who had to potty train 6 kids of her own? My mom. I don’t know why or how I didn’t think of it sooner than Google searches, and numerous keyword searches and sentence rephrasing, but alas. The answer to my problems was simply a phone call and text message response away the whole time!

I had quite a lengthy conversation with my mom on the subject of potty training. I suspect she knew that one day I would have to ask her these questions, and I also suspect that once she received my text messages on the wonders of potty training, that she immediately started laughing.

Well needless to say, our lengthy conversation was very helpful. Despite some of the things she was telling me were things I had seen on my infamous Google searches, her advice and tips were quite helpful! It’s all about encouraging her to go, and also rewarding her for absolutely every single small achievement!

Yet, it wasn’t as easy as my dear mom had made it sound. Sophia is one stubborn child. I had tried getting her to potty in the afternoon that day. Needless to say it was a lost cause right then. I had let Sophia know that the next day I was going to have her use the potty so she knew in advance that diapers were no-more.

My mom had suggested buying thick padded baby undies so she could get used to them, and she would start understanding that she wasn’t going to be wearing diapers (or pull-ups) any more. I had gone to Walmart right away so Sophia would see them (instead of her pull-ups) and get the point that I was being serious.

I made a little trick of my own the next morning. When you wake up in the morning, you HAVE to go and you have to go BAD. What better time to get her to understand than first thing in the morning when you can’t hold it for very long? Pure genius! She danced around the bathroom and had asked for her diaper and all that good stuff, but nope!

She didn’t have to go right away so I let her out of the bathroom after about 5 minutes, and watched her crossing her legs trying to hold it in as long as possible in the living room. She had said “Potty” so I got excited and encouraged her to go use her potty, and after about 10 minutes of her sitting on her potty she couldn’t hold it anymore and had no choice BUT to let it go! Needless to say it was a success!

I had to keep encouraging her to keep going so she would understand that it’s okay to go pee in her potty. She got up and stared in amazement and after tons of praise from me, she had to call Nana and “show” them (thru the phone) that she had gone potty.

Getting her to keep going throughout the day was a fun experience for her. She had started having an accident outside on the balcony so I rushed her to the potty for her to go again. She was actually having fun with it! Going number 2 though, was a completely different story! That was the one thing she absolutely REFUSED to use her potty!

She danced around the bathroom crying and demanding a diaper so she could go. She got so worked up about it that she was sweaty. I gave in, and let her use her diaper but had explained that that was going to be the last time that she was going to poop in her diapers. The next day was a lot easier to get her to poop in her potty.

Sophia danced around the bathroom again, and demanded a diaper so she could poop peacefully, but this time I sat her on the potty and told her she has to keep sitting there, and make potty. Luckily I was able to keep myself from getting frustrated, and was able to keep calm and peacefully encourage her to potty, and after only 30 seconds of sitting there, she had finally gone number 2 successfully in her potty! She had stared at her potty in wonderment and amazement, because she understood that she had done it, and was even proud of herself for actually doing it.

Now the trick is to keep catching her, and keep encouraging her to go every day until we don’t have to keep a constant eye on her. Of course she’s making “accidents” in her undies, and I explain to her that she can’t anymore, but luckily she understands. So whoever said that potty training is easy, CLEARLY meant the second and third time around and NOT the first!

Guest post written and submitted by Heather P. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Heather P, and engage with her and fellow Hush Hush fans and Twilight book fans.

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5 Responses to “How to Potty Train a Toddler”

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  1. Alicia C. says:

    We were struggling with potty training my oldest when he turned FOUR! I think I must have paid my dues with him because my little guy was so easy. I think that his stubbornness might have even had something to do with it. As soon as he realized that going potty meant that he would be more like mommy, daddy, & brother, he wanted nothing to do with diapers. When I used one for going places or overnight in those first few weeks, he’s flip out toddler-style and refuse to leave it on. Amazingly, we’ve had very few accidents!

    I hope it gets easier for you. I just am so grateful that it’s been so easy this time – but I know how very, very hard it can be, too!
    Alicia C. recently posted..I’m Sick of Yelling – I Want to Play { #CarNatPar }My Profile

  2. Heather P says:

    It’s actually kind of funny, because Sophia is perfectly okay with wearing her pull-ups still. She likes wearing her “big girl undies”, but she’s perfectly fine when it gets to be nighttime and we switch her back to her pull-ups. We’ve had a couple accidents initially, but i was actually quite surprised when she wakes up in the morning with a dry diaper, and goes potty like it’s no big deal.

    i was perfectly content with waiting a little while longer to get her potty trained, but since we found out that I’m currently pregnant again, we decided we should probably put a rush on it! LOL. Luckily she’s picked up on it quite fast, and tells me when she has to go to the bathroom, even if nothing happens. Of course i think it’s because she likes getting free access to my android phone to play Bubble Blast 2, and even Angry Birds. LOL. She’s a smart one 🙂
    Luckily it’s been like 3 or 4 days already, and we haven’t had a single accident since the first initial day! Thankfully i know what to do when this second one comes along! And Luckily it WILL get easier from here

  3. Todd Morris says:

    I think I can chime in with a bit of experience on this topic … especially since that’s my daughter Jaiden (when she was about 18 months old) in the picture at the beginning of this post. 🙂

    I’m going to totally agree that potty training is not “easy”.

    It takes patience.

    And really, no matter how smart your child is, they’re going to start using the potty when they’re ready .. and not a minute sooner. Jaiden had quite a few stops, starts and accidents along the way, but now (she just turned 3) most of the time she doesn’t even have to ask/tell us when she has to go potty any more. This does lead to some not so pleasant discoveries in her two little potty chairs from time to time, but for the most part we don’t have accidents any more .. even at night.

    My other daughter, Joey, is almost the same age Jaiden was in this picture. She’s interested in the potty chair (because she’s seen her sister using it), and even sits on it almost every night before her bath … but alas, she’s yet to actually do anything when sitting there … lol, although several times she’s peed on the floor right after getting up.

    Oh well, more patience required. 🙂
    Todd Morris recently posted..Jaiden’s 1st Day At Pre-KMy Profile

  4. susan says:

    Mine was an absolute nightmare, she would refuse to poop and hold it in for days. She would just sit down rocking back and forth when ever she needed to go but wouldnt. Eventually she got over it but was quite a distressing time.

  5. Heather P says:

    Lol @susan. My daughter still does that. She won’t hold it for DAYS, but she’ll hold her poop in for HOURS. She’ll just hold it and hold it until she can’t anymore. She starts crying cause she wants her big girl undies so she can go play, and once she’s done crying, she’ll finally start going to the bathroom, Just yesterday we noticed that she had to poop, and even she knew she had to potty, so we took her to the bathroom, but she just sat there playing around. So after a good 10 minutes, we let her out, and then 10 minutes later we were back in the bathroom doing the same thing. That was our pattern for 3 hours before she decided she REALLY had to go, and finally went. lol.

    i don’t know how easy or difficult i was to potty train, so i’m curious to hear from my mom about it so i can see if Sophia is as stubborn as i was, or if she’s taking after her father. 🙂 (im blaming her dad :))