Monday, October 12, 2009

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--Potty training

Last week Jessie (my nemesis) asked for some advice on potty training. This is a great topic for me since I am in the midst of doing that very thing (and failing miserably).

The best way to start is to let your child pick out some big boy (or girl) underwear. Make sure they're printed with characters they like. When putting the underwear on your child, say things like, "Child, don't go potty on Spiderman, he doesn't like to get wet, it makes him sad." Isn't this a good idea? (Yeah, it doesn't work. Later, your child will just say, "Mommy, look, Spiderman is wet. Don't worry, he's still happy.")

Next, work up a good bribing system. Every time your child successfully goes, give them the predetermined bribe. (Unfortunately, stopping the bribe is hard so you may have to continue it for the remainder of his/her life.)

Finally, set a timer to remind yourself every hour or so, to take your child to the bathroom. This way you won't forget and they will start establishing a routine of trying to use the bathroom. (Soon, much like Pavlov's dog, whenever the timer goes off, your child will immediately go to the bathroom. So you might want a silent timer.)

You should make sure you go into potty training with the right attitude. There are a few things you should expect so you won't be disappointed:

*Expect to re-carpet your whole house when you are done potty training. You might need to take a side job to finance this (note: writing does not count. I was referring to a paying job). Lucky for me, we were already planning on recarpeting upstairs due to other little boy "accidents": Nail polish, sharpie marker, mascara, a whole tube of bright blue gel toothpaste, all do not go well with carpet. It's beginning to sound like I don't watch my child. In fact, my husband said it's "fourth child syndrome"--we just aren't as attentive with him as we have been with the others. When he suggested this, I gasped. "How dare you accuse me of this," I said. "I have been equally neglectful with all my children. He just gets into more stuff." If you weren't already planning to re-carpet and you don't want to have to, you might consider covering all surfaces in plastic.

*Expect that there will be casualties of war. Some underwear won't make it through the battle. So have plenty of backups.

*Expect that if you are potty training a boy he will soon learn that the toilet isn't the only thing that's fun to aim for. I discovered this the other day when my 3 daughters were running through the house screaming, while my son was chanting, "I'm gonna squirt you."

*And finally, expect that even though you might be ready, your child might not be. Or even though your child is ready, you might not be. All parties involved must be willing participants or it will end in disaster.

Jessie, good luck to you. If anyone else has more helpful advice than mine, feel free to share it. Or, feel free to share unhelpful advice as well (potty training disaster stories are always fun). That is the name of the post after all. :) And again, if you would like to be the recipient of my priceless advice, leave me a question. (Next week, Jenn's question is on the agenda)


  1. Yeah, uh, I'm there too. I laughed out loud about happy wet Spiderman. BEEN THERE.

  2. We tried all of that, timer, treats, cool underwear. I made them eat salty things so they'd drink more. There were times when I thought they'll never get it, but eventually they did and it's totally awesome.

  3. When I was potty training my son, we tried big boy underwear for the first time and in between trips to the bathroom we played Candy Land.

    Those poor little gingerbread men never saw the flood coming...neither did I.

    We spent the rest of that afternoon at wal-mart getting a new Candy Land game and some ice cream for Mommy.

  4. Oh man, I am getting really nervous to potty train my son. My daughter was a total breeze, and the gods of pottytraining simply don't allow for two in a row to be easy.

  5. This is hilarious! Who knew you could be funny? I mean, you're always so glum and all. :-)

  6. I danced like Tom Jones the first time my daughter went potty in the potty chair. She thought it was so funny, she went to the chair often and I had to perform each time.

    Don't try this.

    The humiliation is not worth it. Just keep buying those diapers until they are called Depends and be happy no one saw you dance like Tom Jones.

  7. This is hilarious! My first daughter was potty trained in one day--and she only had one accident overnight. We're about to start with my youngest and I don't anticipate it going well. She could care less about going in the big girl toilet. Ugh. I'm definitely going to bribe her.

  8. LOL! I love the "I have been equally neglectful to all my children!"

    I'm just about to start today with Arie. We've always used the potty doll and waited until each kid was really old.... like 3 1/2, or in Arie's case, almost 4. Sure you have to change diapers longer but there are less accidents and within about 2 days they are trained.

    I've only had this result with my other two though so I'm probably jinxing myself right now.

    And why should I care about accidents on the carpet? I shouldn't because it looks like a war zone already. I believe it is every cat and dog's goal to try and throw-up on the carpet and not the wood floor. Somehow, it must be more "soothing" to them while in the midst of spewing up a hairball.

  9. Oh thank you Kasie. This was just what I needed. I am leaning in favor of waiting until after the baby comes to potty-train my son. After all, doctor said to expect him to regress then. He can't regress if he isn't potty-trained yet. I'm really thinking of him and his potty-esteem. Not that I'm a little lazy, and it is so hard.

    And I thought reading a book was supposed to solve everything. I am reading Potty Training in Less Than A Day. I even tried it, and pumped my son so full of peanut butter M&M's that is all he pooped for days. I love your potty traning antecdotes, and I'm glad that you see all of your children equally and don't neglect one more than the other.

  10. I REALLY REALLY needed this. I'm potty training Darcy and it's a living nightmare. I'm just not pushing the issue. It will happen eventually. Ugh. I laughed so hard with this post. Kasie, you're a life saver. :)

  11. Natalie, apparently Spiderman likes being wet. :) I'm glad to hear I'm not alone.

    Patti, someone once told me they never knew a kindergartner who wore diapers to school so I just need to have patience. Ever since then, I've been more laid back. Unfortunately my carpet takes the brunt of my attitude. :)

    Jenn, poor gingerbread man. He probably didn't even realize he was in a flood zone. Good thing you rewarded yourself with ice cream. That always makes things look better.

  12. Renee, it's true the potty training gods would not allow such good fortune. Good thing you have my priceless advice to help you. :)

    Linda, I know, right? Never a smirk or laugh out of me. Where did this post come from? :)

    Tricia, you almost made me pee my pants with that comment. Then I would've had to get depends.

    Cindy, wow, you were lucky with your first. Refer to Renee's comment on your fate for the second. LOL Good luck.

  13. Britten, that image of the animals puking on the carpet was not a good one. LOL They really must have it out for you. Seriously, don't they know the wood would be so much easier to clean? That's so smart that you wait with your kids. It saves everyone the headache I'm sure.

    Jessie, definitely wait. Having had four kids (and it seems like the next is always due to arrive around the last one's potty training time) I know that they definitely regress when new baby comes. Plus, you have less freedom to take them at a second's notice. So waiting is the key. I like your m&m story. That's funny.

    Michelle, I'm glad my unhelpful advice was a lifesaver. :) Sometimes its just nice to laugh at the absurdity of it all. I think my son has trained me more than I've trained him. He knows every time he says, "Mommy, I have to go." That I drop everything and go running like a mad woman down the hall. Then he stands there and says, "Never mind." See, he's trained me well. :)

  14. Hah! I see... man oh man they're smart little things. They frustrate me. Urgh. :P