Potty training sucks. It’s a right of passage for both parents and kids. Having a handful of kids myself, I’ve done it a few times. Each time I prepare to take on the task I buy a new book and research in the Internet, it seems everyone has their own idea and method and most of them are far too complicated for my tastes. If you have to buy more than a potty or potty seat I’m not interested. No books, no dolls, no parties. This is what works for our family.

First, we wait until about 2 1/2 years old. It’s our sweet spot. I know plenty of families that have success earlier with younger kids, and some who swear by the older kids. I have found though, that the 2 1/2 year olds have two very key skills. First, they can follow simple instructions well. And two, they are capable of dressing themselves. Most importantly they are capable of pulling down underwear. For girls, we wear dresses and their panties. Boys get their t-shirts and underwear. Forget the pants to start. The more simple the process the better. The first day or so I bring our potty into the room where we will be the most. Then I load my kids up on water. The more they drink the more they will have to pee. Expect the first day to have more accidents than successes. These accidents are good things, even if they are annoying and well, gross. Just help your child clean them up and put on dry clothes.

On the first day we do dry pant checks every 5-10 minutes. Every time we check and they are dry they get praise. Every thirty minutes I ask them to sit on the potty. If they have an accident, wait thirty minutes before trying again. That’s about how long it takes for the body to produce urine. It usually takes my kids one solid day of this. By day two they are going to the potty (still in the main room) more or less on their own. I do suggest them trying if I feel like its been a while. Honestly, we don’t press it though. If they say they don’t need to go I don’t force them to sit down. I think it’s good to show them you trust them. If they are wrong and they have an accident, oh well. Clean up and try again.

Once the first two days go by its time to move the potty out of the main room and in the bathroom. For each of my kids (and a few that weren’t mine, but I assisted with) the whole process took a week. Just prepare yourself for the inevitable oopsies, and be patient. It can be easier than some people make it out to be.

-Stephanie Wright

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