I have four children and they were all potty trained at different ages, ranging from 2 years old to 3.5 years old. The experiences of potty training each child were completely different, but there are a few things I wish I had known before I began potty training them all.
Read to the end to find out what I wish I knew before I started potty training my children and also read below to find out how the journey went with each of my children.
Potty training my first child
I remember potty training my first child when she was two years old, it took about a week and it was quite stressful. During this time, I didn’t have a social media account, and by social media I mean Facebook because that’s all there was back in 2009. My daughter was my only child as well, so I was able to focus all my attention on her. She had lots of accidents, but I was able to stay calm during the potty training process and before I knew it she was trained and it was a huge relief!
Potty training my second child
Fast forward a few years later and now I was a mom of three and it was time to potty train my second child. It was a NIGHTMARE. You would think it would be easier because it was my second time around at this whole potty training thing, but it was MUCH WORSE. One week went by and my daughter was not potty trained. Two weeks went by and my daughter was STILL not potty trained, and then three weeks went by and you got it- she was still NOT potty trained.
I was frustrated to say the least, and I felt like a failure of a mother. What made it worse was the fact that I was active on social media during this time, and seeing all those potty training posts on Facebook about how to potty train your child in 3 days made me bitter. 3 days?! I have been at this thing for 3 freaking weeks and she’s still not potty trained!!!! I felt like the worst mom and that I failed my child. Everyone else her age was potty trained in 3 days, but why couldn’t I help her do the same. What was wrong with me?!
I persisted though and kept potty training her. I did notice she hadn’t gone number two in the toilet much and she was crying a lot in the evenings. It was during her appointment with her pediatrician that I found out she was constipated. Her pediatrician asked me if I was potty training her and I told her I was; she told me to stop immediately. Truth be told, I found it odd that a doctor was telling me to stop potty training my child, weren’t doctor’s supposed to encourage you to help your child reach milestones at the right times?
Well, it turns out that my daughter was not mentally ready to be potty trained. She had the fear of the toilet and that’s why she wasn’t able to go number two in the toilet- she was scared to! This led to her being constipated and her stomach aching severely. She had to be put on laxatives immediately and the potty training had to be stopped altogether. After the appointment with my child’s pediatrician, I felt horrible for forcing my daughter to do something she wasn’t ready for and for her being in pain as a result of it. The mom guilt is real!
After this incident, I tried potty training her every 3 months and whenever I saw that she still wasn’t ready, I would stop potty training her and put her back in diapers. Then, at the age of 3.5 year old, I tried again and this time it was a success! We did a happy dance together when she passed her first bowel movement in the toilet and gave each other high fives! You know you’re a parent when you do a happy dance over poop!
Potty training my third child
I did have anxiety going into potty training my son, and I was really nervous. I had no idea if he was going to be ready for potty training at age 2 years old like my oldest daughter or at 3.5 years old like my younger daughter, OR maybe he would be ready somewhere in between? Although I was anxious potty training him, I did feel more prepared this time around.
I had more knowledge of what the signs of readiness were and I observed my son to see if he was ready or not. My first attempt at potty training my son was when he was 2.5 years old and he wasn’t ready. We tried again when he was 3 years old and he was still not ready. We tried for a third time when he 3.5 years old and after about a couple of weeks, he was fully potty trained.
Potty training my fourth child
I took things really slow and I had a much more relaxed attitude during this time around. I ignored all the blog posts that stated if you don’t potty train your child by age 2 it will be harder and harder for them to learn as they get older. I didn’t have a timeline set to potty train my son and I also took into account my past experiences with potty training. I had a whole new attitude going into this and it made a huge difference because guess what?! My 3.5 year old son learned how to use the potty in just one day and he had zero accidents! A part of me was still nervous and anxious, but I didn’t let it get to me this time. I feel like my son sensed my calm attitude and hit helped him learn at a quicker pace compared to my other children.
Now, this is IMPORTANT TO NOTE: how fast or how slow your child learns to use the potty has NOTHING to do with how good or how bad of a parent you are. Repeat it if after me mamas: “How fast or how slow my child learns how to use the potty has NOTHING to do with how good or bad of a parent I am.” And then repeat again! This is just one thing I wish I knew before I started potty training my children, but no one had told me this! Below are some more things I wish someone had told me before I started potty training my children, please do read them before you start the process for your child, they are all fundamental!
- There is no exact age for a child to be potty trained. I remember a nurse telling me this after I had potty trained my third child, she told me that most parents stress out over their children not being potty trained by a certain age, but there is no “right” age to start the process. She also told me that most children who do not have developmental issues are usually potty trained by the age of 4 years old.
- Constipation is a sign that your toddler may not be ready for toilet training. If your child is experiencing constipation, please speak to a doctor about this.
- It doesn’t necessarily get easier with each child. This is so important! I made the mistake of thinking it would be easier potty training my second child, but it was much more difficult. Each child is unique and will be ready at his or own age. Do not compare one potty training experience with another child’s.
- Fear of the toilet is a thing! You may think your child is physically ready to toilet train (i.e they can sit on the toilet on their own, pull down their own pants), but they may not be mentally ready. If your child is holding in their urine or bowel movements, they may be scared of the toilet and not mentally ready for potty training.
- You don’t need to invest in all the things associated with potty training, such as the potty sticker charts and the toilets that play music when you flush them (yup, those are a thing). If you feel like they will help your child, then go ahead and purchase these items, but they are not a must.
- The mom guilt that comes with potty training your child is REAL, but at the end of the day the one thing that will make this process a positive one is to stay calm. Never punish your child for not getting this potty training thing right away. It’s like learning to walk, your child will take a step and then fall down, but he or she will get back up and try again, but only with your support and encouragement.
- Potty training is a process and takes time to learn. There will be accidents and there may be regressions, it’s all a part of the process!
- Potty training is not a competition where the parent whose child learns first is the winner.
- It is unfair to say that boys are harder to potty train than girls or vice versa. This may or may not be true, but please don’t tell parents that they it have it easier when it comes to potty training because they have a daughter or a son. As I stated before, each child is different and reaches certain milestone in his or her time.
- Finally, the point I mentioned earlier: how fast or how slow your child learns to use the potty has NOTHING to do with how good or how bad of a parent you are.
To the parents that are getting ready to potty train their child, I wish you all the best!