There are very many ways to potty train. A lot of my friends used the famous “3 day” method when they deemed their children ready, and it was successful in most cases. Stay inside with your child, roll up your carpets and eventually she/he understands that asking to go potty (and being rewarded) is a lot more pleasant than staying wet or dirty. I also read a lot of articles pleading with parents to wait until their children are closer to three to start potty training, since their bodies “are not mature enough” to send signals to their brains, or their brains “are not mature enough” to interpret the signals. With all due respect, these articles must be sponsored by diaper companies, because in the rest of the world, including my country of birth, children are usually potty trained by the time they are two years old. My plan was to potty train my daughter by the time she is 30 months, and we started to execute on this plan when she was about 20 months.
I wanted to bypass the little potty. I have a confession to make – handling poop freaks me out. The diaper changes are OK, but the thought of cleaning little potty just didn’t appeal to me at all. So we bought a toilet insert and started a nightly ritual of book reading while sitting on the toilet. Most of the time it was just that – sitting, and Anna could leave any time she wanted. When she finally peed, we made a big song and dance about it and rewarded her with stickers. She was pleased, but this reward was not enough of an incentive. This girl has a giant sweet tooth that she inherited from her papa, so M&Ms turned out to be an ultimate reward. Once she realized that she can get two M&Ms for peeing on the toilet, she started to go reliably in the evening. That’s when we progressed to letting her stay in underwear in the afternoon. After a few pee accidents and only one poop accident (ewww! that was messy!) she started to first pee with reminders and then finally ask to pee.
Pooping was somewhat more challenging, because Anna would just hold it until her nap time and happily poop in her diaper. She explained to me that Big girls still wear diaper for naps and pooping. Eventually, an accidental poop on the potty happened, and I gave her a book as a poop prize. The book wasn’t particular interesting to her, so she wasn’t motivated. But the next poop prize (a clown fish soap dispenser from a Dollar store) excited her a lot more, and suddenly she was really trying to poop on the toilet. After three prizes I announced that we are now back to M&M prizes, and our toilet training while awake was practically complete.
Going to the public restrooms wasn’t really a problem for us. We got a folding toilet seat, and practiced using it at home. After being a little apprehensive at first, Anna decided that going to the restrooms is kind of fun and, strangely, she seems to be more aware of her need to go when she is out than when she is home and doesn’t want to be interrupted. We still have occasional minor pee accidents at home, but they are not very frequent.
We didn’t tackle night-time training yet. As with everything else, I believe that Anna will want to take her night-time diaper off when she is ready for it. Right now she is completely content to be in a diaper, and it doesn’t affect her daytime ability to stay dry. I am pretty pleased with her progress, and I am pretty sure that the last step on the potty training road is not too far away.