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)