Top 3 Secrets of Potty Training

There are so many ways to go about teaching your little one. But instead of googling it all, just trust your gut and find a way that speaks the same lingo as your babies.


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Ah, potty training…


The idea of spending less money every other week on diapers or pull ups and no longer needing to wipe butts or cleanup diaper explosions is OH SO APPEALING! Your little one is approaching the age where you think they should be ready, or they might even be showing signs very early on that they are getting ready to learn to use the potty. Maybe they are running around, ripping off their diaper and squatting on the floor. Maybe they are being stubborn as can be and refusing to do anything but hold it in until they are blue in the face.


Potty training can be an intimidating and frustrating task when it presents itself. But it’s kind of really what you make it. And believe it or not, your attitude as the parent, can have the biggest impact on how rough or how smoothly this whole transition is for you and your little one.


David has been potty trained (with the exception of sleeping with a pull up at night because that boy could sleep through the second coming…) for almost two full years. Jacob is just starting, which us of course what sparked this blog post in the first place. The experiences so far are NIGHT AND DAY. Beyond, if there were any such more drastic a comparison.


When David was turning three years old, he was finally able to start the preschool program we wanted to enroll him in. We got on the waitlist, and called the admin office to prepare ourselves and get all the paperwork they needed. They then informed us that all students in the class must be fully potty trained. Of course accidents happen at their age, so you can pack them extra clothes every day though.


Now, David was not potty trained yet. At all. We had tried many times before, but what I quickly learned and is something you should absolutely take note of is, IF THEY ARE NOT READY – DO NOT FORCE IT. You will only upset yourself, your little one, and even if it is successful- there’s a big chance they can regress if they are forced to learn before their body feels ready. Some people gave me quite a bit of kickback because he wasn’t potty trained yet. But honestly, even our pediatrician told me that boys don’t get full control over their bladders until after 3 years old.


Needless to say, we got the call he was accepted into class and when asked if he was potty trained, I lied and said yes. WHOOPS. David was genuinely SO excited about making friends and starting class. So I told him we had to get to work. The first day or so, he HATED sitting on the big boy potty. We bought but never used the little floor potty, he loved the mickey mouse seat. After a few days of quite a few accidents – I had to go into the admin office to fill out paperwork and the unthinkable happened.


Like most kids when potty training, they rebel and try to hold it for as long as possible. David had been doing EXACTLY that. It was now around 11:30 pm, and I’m waiting my turn to sign a few documents and when they called my name, I left David to play while I approach the counter.


All the sudden David was quiet and I turned around to see him standing in the BIGGEST, ENDLESS PUDDLE OF PEE I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.


I AM NOT KIDDING. It was shocking. I could not believe the bladder of someone his size had the capability to hold that much, and when I looked at him, he was still going!


Now what happens next is not something I recommend – but when the administrator gave me a dirty look and in her snooty voice asked me”Isn’t he fully toilet learned?” I lied AGAIN, and said yes, accidents just happen sometimes.


I quickly cleaned up the mess, and we rushed off to the car to get him changed.


He was embarrassed and I explained to him that it was okay, accidents happen. I encouraged David by telling him that it happens to all of us, and I gave him a sticker. His face lit up!


I quickly realized what I could do to help him learn.


A reward system. I decided to make a sticker chart. It was on a big poster board pinned up in the bathroom. If he sat on the potty and at least tried, he got one sticker. If he sat on the potty and peed, he was given two stickers. And If we sat on the potty and peed and/or pooped, he was given three.


I am not exaggerating when I say, two and a half weeks later, he only had a TOTAL of 3 accidents. And once he started class, he only had 2 the whole time he attended the program!!


Now, David was an incredible case. He learned SO quickly it was amazing.


SO I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when it was now Jacobs turn.


Oh but how I was wrong…


Jacob has a completely different personality than David.


Jacob is the most stubborn little boy I have ever met. As I am writing this, we are only on day 3 of training. The thing about Jacob is that he LOVES cute underwear. He picked out a special pack from Target, that was a Paw Patrol theme. He loves to wear them, but refuses to take them off to use the bathroom. But won’t go back to a pull up either. So I’m sure you can tell where this was headed.


Lots of accidents. And with a stubborn ox as a little boy, if I got mad and frustrated, it only made him even more determined to refuse to sit on the potty. I know it’s incredibly easy to lose your temper or patience in cases like these, but it is not worth it. After all, their entire lives, all they have known is using pull ups or diapers and staring at you while YOU use the toilets in the home.


Eventually one day he had SO much to drink, I yanked his pants down, made him sit on the potty and gave him an ipad to distract him from screaming at me for 15 minutes straight. Finally once he relaxed, he started to pee and was SO excited  he hopped right down and earned his stickers.


Jacob is definitely going to be a tough cookie to work with on the potty training front. He even called me from his hand phone, saying,


“Beep Beep Boo Beep- Is this my Mommy? STOP ASKING ME TO PEE, GOODBYE!”


And hung up on me with his hand.


Since then, we have sat in the bathroom together for up to 45 minutes.


But he DID in fact pee.


He still has a longggg way to go. And I am sure it’s going to take longer than it did for David because Jacob loves to smile and giggle knowing he’s causing me premature aging and gray hairs.


But the point in sharing all of this is to leave you with a few major but very simple tips for potty training your boys or girls…


  1. Don’t force them. The last thing you want is for them to be rushed into something they aren’t ready for and end up regressing later on down the road.
  2. Use a reward system. Sticker charts, M&M’s, extra screen time etc… speak your littles language.
  3. This is the biggest one of all and I cannot stress this enough – DON’T STRESS IT. Ignore the nightmare horror stories that people love to share. It’s just like when you get pregnant and people share their tales of woe and gore. Your own energy WILL determine how your little one behaves and responds to learning how to use the big boy or big girl potty. If you are patient, understanding and make it playful – it will be far more seamless for the both of you.


There are so many ways to go about teaching your little one. But instead of googling it all, just trust your gut and find a way that speaks the same lingo as your babies. I really feel it’s not about the method of training that matters, but how you go about it and your intentions and energy surrounding it.


Until next time, Babes,


Sarah Anderegg





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