This article was originally posted on AwesomeBeginnings4Children.com on July 15, 2011

Little girl sitting on a toilet

Rushing a child through the process of using the potty chair or toilet will result in tears, frustration, negative feelings and stress. Starting too soon can actually delay the process. The process will be “magical” if you wait until your child is ready. Why spend an average of 8 months doing something that you can do in a few minutes by waiting until the child is ready? Yes, the experts say it takes an average of 6 – 10 months of potty training before reliable daytime dryness is achieved.

You might want to read part 1 & 2 first: Potty Training vs Potty Learning and Potty Training vs Potty Learning – Signs of Readiness

This article is on “How to Potty Learn Your Child in Less Than 3 Days”. Most parents will search for the term “Potty Train”. To help parents find this article I purposely used the term “potty train” in the title. Read Part 1 of this article: Potty Training vs Potty Learning. According to the experts, potty training takes 6-10 months for completion (reliable daytime dryness). Potty learning is accomplished in 0-2 days. Ninety percent of children accomplish staying dry (zero accidents) in ZERO DAYS!

The Potty Training Process

The PARENT is in charge of the potty training. The parent brings the child to the potty at scheduled or random times in an attempt to “catch” the urine/bowel movement before an accident occurs. The parent has the child sit on the potty whether or not the child has a physical need to go. The parent is constantly asking, reminding and nagging the child about whether he needs to use the potty. The parent may have a reward chart/system in place. The parent may pull the child’s pants up and down. The parent may change the child’s clothing after “accidents”. The parent may get frustrated and even angry. The parent may yell, scold, shame and even punish the child. It is a long, stressful, exhausting process. Experts say that most parents start shortly after a child turns two and that it takes 6-10 months of potty training before a child has reliable daytime dryness. Refer to: Potty Training vs Potty Learning (Part 1)

The reward chart/system seems to work at first, but then it backfires. Once the child has lost his or her excitement about the reward, he or she loses motivation and quits using the potty altogether.

Potty Training Results

The parent failed. The parent is frustrated. There is tension between the parent and child. The parent failed. The parent feels like a failure. The child feels like a failure. The parent failed. The parent is getting angry. The child feels “bad”. Why isn’t the child cooperating? The parent failed. The parent is exhausted.….Months (6-10) have passed…The parent succeeded (or was it just that the child was finally ready?).

Parents would never spend 6-10 months trying to teach a toddler how to do simple math problems. The parent would wait for the toddler to mature into a preschooler/school-age child so that they would “get it” right off the bat. Why then, do parents think they should spend 6-10 LONG months trying to get their child to stay dry? I’m sure it has to do with the HISTORY behind potty training.

A Brief History Behind Potty Training

In the early 1900’s potty training began when a baby was still a newborn. In 1929 a new mother was instructed to start bowel training at the end of the first MONTH. Bladder training started at ten months. I know that this may seem hard to believe. You will find one source and link below to the “Infant Care Manual” given to new mothers in 1929. Do an internet search and you’ll find many references to the early days/history of potty training. Reader beware: It is TRULY, TRULY SICKENING to read how mothers were instructed to care for their babies and children and not just in the potty training department.

Two excerpts (available online) from the United States Department of Labor – Children’s Bureau – Infant Care – Revised July 1929:

Page 57: “Training of the bowels may be begun as early as the end of the first month. It should always be begun by the third month and may be completed during the eighth month.”

Page 58: “One method of training the little baby in regular bowel habits as follows: Hold the baby in your lap or lay him on a table with his head toward your left, in the position for changing his diaper. Lift the feet with the left hand and with the right insert a soap stick or other suppository into the rectum. Still holding the feet up, press a small chamber gently against the buttocks with the right hand and hold it there until the stool has passed.”

Read page 58 & 59 for bladder training.

I can only imagine the stress that both children and mothers went through in those days with those kinds of “instructions” from doctors – BARBARIC!

That was from the 1929 Infant Care publication. You can also read the publications for other years.

The older generations were instructed to potty train their babies. They thought waiting was just plain laziness. The older generations have influenced the younger generations. They may say: “Haven’t you potty trained him yet? Little Billy was potty trained by 9 months.” The funny thing is that little Billy couldn’t walk or talk – so – who was really potty trained? As new generations are born and older generations pass the average age for potty training has become later and later. My guess is that at least 25% or more of moms are now waiting closer to a child’s third birthday, when they are truly ready to attain reliable (magically instant) daytime dryness.

Potty Learning – The Magical Alternative to Potty Training

Before the Potty Learning Process

During the past 12 – 18 months you have had many conversations with your child about the fact that “someday” he or she will get older and will use the toilet just like Mommy/Daddy/____. Your child has witnessed his or her parents, siblings and/or peers using the potty chair and/or toilet. Your child has most likely used the potty chair or toilet many times during this period.

When your child went through the curious/interested stage at around 18-24 months you encouraged it and supported it BUT you did not place any expectations on your child. You knew this stage would come and go.

Your child is now approaching his or her third birthday. You will know when your child is ready through casual conversation. You may occasionally say: “Pretty soon you will be old enough to wear “big girl/boy panties/underwear” and will go potty on the potty chair or toilet.” You may occasionally ask: “Are you getting excited to wear “big girl/boy panties/underwear” and will go potty on the potty chair or toilet?” You may also occasionally ask: “Are you ready to go shopping for big girl/boy panties/underwear” and to start going potty on the potty chair or toilet?” Your child’s responses and the dialogue of your conversations will let you know when he or she is ready. The average age of potty learning readiness for a girl is about 34–36 months and for a boy it’s about 36-39 months. This is the average age of POTTY TRAINING COMPLETION without the 6-10 months of “training” and accidents!

Recently, you and your child went shopping and picked out cloth training pants and girl panties or boy underwear. You will need at least 6 -8 cloth training pants. Only open one package so that you can return any that go unused. Cloth training pants are padded/extra absorbent and are necessary in case of an accident. DO NOT use disposable training pants! They FEEL like and absorb like a diaper. Your child will forget that they don’t have a diaper on since they feel the same and work the same as a diaper. Wearing the soft, comfy and different-feeling underwear acts as a reminder that the child is now using the toilet.

Recently you had a conversation with your child and your child agreed that on Monday morning (pick any day) when your child wakes up he or she will start wearing the underwear that he or she picked out at the store. Tell your child that the diapers will be given away. Your child will wear cloth training pants day and night, including on outings. Once your child has stayed dry (during the day) for 14 days your child will be able to wear the “big boy underwear” or “big girl panties” that you picked out when you purchased the cloth training pants. Most children will stay dry at night too. Some children will wet during the night until they are 5 or 6-years-old. Many children that wet during the night and wear disposable training pants at night will continue to wet at night until they are 8 to 11-years-old. If your child wets at night, see the tips below to make “life” a little easier.

The Potty Learning Process

The child is in charge of the potty learning process.

When your child wakes up on the morning of the “start day” have your child take his or her diaper off and put on the cloth training pants. ASK your child if he or she has to go potty yet.

Put a pail/basket and a pile of training pants and pants in the bathroom. Explain to your child: “I know you probably won’t forget that you have underwear on, but, just in case you do, here are some pants to change into and you can put the wet ones in the pail.”

Do not use a reward system! When children OR adults are given rewards for a behavior and the rewards are stopped (rewards for going potty have to stop sometime) the motivation to continue the behavior stops. You wouldn’t keep going to work if your boss quit paying you, would you?

Praise your child a few times but DO NOT OVER PRAISE! Your child is ready for this. He or she is not accomplishing a heroic feat. Don’t be fakey or give your child the impression that this should be difficult.

Do not tell your child to go to the potty – unless you are going outside to play, your child is going to nap/bed, or you are leaving for an outing. Explain that you also use the toilet at these times and why.

Remind your child a few times the first day. Do not make it seem like a reminder. Say something casual like: “I bet that your new underwear feels a lot more comfortable than a diaper.” A rule of thumb is “LESS is more”. Don’t nag your child! If you nag you will put an end to your child’s excitement and motivation.

If your child stays dry the first day don’t use ANY reminders after the first day.

If your child has an accident, do not worry about it. Treat occasional accidents as learning experiences. Very casually and in a matter-of-fact voice tell the child: “Oops, you must have forgotten that you have underwear on. It’s okay, you’ll remember the next time. Your extra pants are in the bathroom.” Your child is responsible for his or her potty learning process. Your child should change him/herself. You should teach your child how to wipe his/her bottom and to wash his/hers hands and in case of an accident you should take care of the laundry. Otherwise, using the bathroom needs to be your child’s desire and responsibility. Don’t take that way from him/her. Potty training is a parent’s process. Potty learning is a child’s process. He/she is not a baby anymore.

What If My Child Keeps Wetting ?

I have 4 children of my own and owned and operated Awesome Beginnings Childcare for 18 years. I have potty learned MANY children. EVERY child that went through the “potty learning” process was ready for it and stayed consistently dry within 0-2 days. Ninety percent never had an accident in the first two weeks. If your child isn’t staying dry, he or she most likely isn’t ready – YET.

Around your child’s third birthday, unless your child has a medical problem or is physically delayed, your child is physically ready to use the toilet/potty. Also, unless your child is mentally delayed, your child is mentally ready to use the toilet/potty.

If you have started this process and your child is still wetting a few times during the day after a few days then he or she is probably not emotionally/psychologically ready. It is OKAY!!! This isn’t a race! Don’t let “other people” have a negative impact on your relationship with your child. Who cares what they think! This is a big step, commitment and change for your child. Talk to your child about it. Say something like: “Billy, it’s been 3 days since you started wearing underwear. You’re still wetting sometimes. I’m wondering if maybe you weren’t ready yet? Do you think that maybe you should go back to wearing diapers and you could try again in a couple of weeks?” Explain that it’s not hygienic to go potty (or poop) in underwear. If your child says that he/she wants to continue to wear underwear then give it a few more days.

NEVER yell at, shame or punish your child for accidents. Think of potty learning in the same way that you would if you were trying to teach your child to do a simple math problem. If your child isn’t “getting it” then your child isn’t ready. The day will come sooner than you think. All of a sudden it will just “click”. If you wait until your child is ready it will be a pleasant, positive, quick, simple and ”magical” process. REALLY!!!

All children develop physically, mentally and emotionally at different paces. It’s important to do what’s right for you and your child.

Night Wetting Tips

Tip # 1:
Don’t assume that just because your child wakes up with a SOAKED diaper every morning that your child will be a bed wetter. One of my 4 children woke up with a soaked (and I mean soaked) diaper every morning. In the 5 years after she started wearing underwear she wet the bed twice. She started wearing underwear during the day and at night on the same day.

Tip #2:
There is nothing worse than getting woke out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night and having to “function” enough to change bedding on a wet bed. To make this chore simple and quick you will need a plastic/vinyl zippered waterproof fitted mattress cover. This cover surrounds the entire mattress. You slide the mattress in and zip it at one end. Discount stores such as Target and Walmart sell them. You will also need a waterproof pad. These usually come in a size of about 2 ½’ by 5 or 6’.

On top of the fitted, zippered mattress pad you may optionally put a quilted mattress pad. On top of that put a fitted sheet. On top of that put the waterproof pad. On top of that put another fitted sheet. Have an extra blanket (and optional top sheet) handy and close to the bed.

During the night when your child wets the bed, while he or she is in the bathroom changing, all you have to do is pull the top fitted sheet and the waterproof pad off of the bed. You still have a fitted sheet under that. If the top sheet (optional) or blanket got wet then throw the reserve one on the bed. Takes one minute and now you can go back to bed and deal with the rest in the morning.

Don’t miss part 1 & 2: Potty Training vs Potty Learning and Potty Training vs Potty Learning – Signs of Readiness

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