Ten things I’ve learned about potty training
By cardiogirl on March 26, 2009
Potty training is one of those things that people routinely lie about.
I don’t have absolute proof of that but I just know it to be true
down to my bones. No one really talks about the nuts and bolts of potty
So I feel the need to present the seedy side of toilet training.
Your results may vary, but I believe these to be somewhat universal
1. Potty training sucks it like no one’s business.
It ain’t cool, it’s not fun and it sure as hell ain’t easy. I don’t
believe for one minute the parent who says — chuckling in disbelief and
his or her own good fortune — “Jimmy potty trained himself at 18
Go on people, throw it at me. You can leave 300 comments trying to
convince me that potty training was a breeze and your kid figured it
out the second time you two walked into the bathroom.
And I will never buy it. I don’t believe you, but you can say it if you must.
And just to clarify here, my definition of a successfully potty
trained child is that the kid wears underwear during every waking
moment and announces to the parent, “Hey dude, I need to go to the
bathroom. Care to join me?”
It is not the parent who runs the kid to the bathroom every 15
minutes and sets him or her on the can catching the child’s urge to go.
It is not setting a portable potty seat in the living room and asking
the kid to try it out every 15 minutes. That is not potty trained,
2. Both the parent and the kid have to be ready to deal with potty training.
If Momma ain’t ready, ain’t nobody ready.
Whoever is manning the show has to be willing to deal with the
process. Diapers and pull ups are convenient. But eventually changing
diapers will get old. And that is when Mom or Dad is ready to give it a
Occasionally the kid will be ready before the parent and that’s the optimal scenario.
But it never went that way for me.
3. It’s really hard to explain the concept of a full bladder or bowels to a small child.
A small child’s vocabulary is limited and at times it’s sort of like
trying to explain quantum physics to a lady bug. You need a highly
evolved lady bug to have immediate success. Yes, you run into a few
lady bugs who were born with a diploma in their hands but usually
that’s not the case.
4. Potty training is a four-step process. You have to tackle
urinating, bowel movements, staying dry during naps and staying dry
If you’ve never worked with a small child let me tell you it always,
always goes in stages like that. Again there are a few exceptions to
the rule, but for me the rule continued to hold true every time.
p.s. Trying to get a kid to stay dry during naps and all night long is a real bitch.
5. The standard toilet is pretty high off the ground for a small child.
Some kids will find a foot stool helpful. Other kids will insist on
balancing precariously on the edge of the seat. It’s just a factor in
the entire equation.
6. Having a new baby in the house will definitely mess up potty training mojo and will cause regression in the older kid.
That sucks it hard. Enough said.
7. Catching bowel movements is really difficult and unless you’re
willing to deal with a packer, you might have to turn to the
diaper/pull up for a while.
You might think that a look of serious concentration and a slightly
red face would clue you into the happenings of the kid’s bowels. That
is true unless your kid’s diet is high in fiber.
Then very little concentration is necessary and the package is like a gift from Santa. It just appears like magic.
If you can catch your kid in the act, running him or her to the
toilet will inspire great fear in said child. Clenching of teeth and
other body parts will ensue and the experience will become one of
I have found time and small rewards to be helpful. We are currently
using Starburst candy as an incentive. Yes, we’ll probably pay for that
with the dentist later, but I find nothing wrong with robbing Peter to
pay Paul right now.
8. Skid marks are inevitable. And where there are skid marks an intense laundry experience is sure to follow.
Scrubbing with Fels-Naptha bar soap, soaking underwear in Biz Stain
Fighter and following up with Spray ‘n Wash Stain Remover is a pretty
good defense when it comes to skid marks. But nothing is perfect folks.
9. Hearing your kid say, “I gotta go poop,” will inspire a near panic attack.
I speak from experience when I say those four words will make life
feel like the earth has stop rotating on its axis. And that statement
is usually uttered while the child is strapped in a five-point harness
car seat in a minivan cruising at 80 mph on the freeway.
Good luck with all of that. And you may find it helpful to refer back to number eight.
10. If your kid doesn’t catch on until she’s three-and-a-half, that’s cool.
Really this dog and pony show is run by the child. When your kid is ready, your kid is ready.
If you want to attempt to roll Jello up hill, have at it. I guess that’s what Ativan is for.
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