Potty training a toddler can be difficult, but no when you encourage your toddler to potty train herself.
Potty Training is one of the most difficult stages of toddlerhood. Two and three year olds do what they want to do, not what Mommy and daddy tell them to do. We bought Ailey a potty for Christmas and it took her three months to decide she was ready to potty train herself. I’m still in shock we didn’t do a lot to teach Ailey how to ditch the diapers. Today I’m sharing a fun story about how my toddler potty trained herself.
Potty Training Back Story
We were lucky when potty training Annabelle. She learned how to use the potty at daycare over the course of 2 years and was completely out of diapers by the age of three. You can read all about her potty training experience here. When it came time to potty train Ailey I hesitated with worry. We all know every toddler is different developmentally and Ailey no exception.
Parents often wonder, what is the best age to potty train a girl or boy? Since Annabelle was potty trained at school, I asked the pediatrian at Ailey’s two year check-up. The pediatrician told us to keep an eye out for signs of potty training readiness – whatever that means.
Common potty training readiness signs:
- Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper.
- Hiding to pee or poop.
- Interest in others’ use of the potty, or copying their behavior.
- Having a dry diaper for a longer-than-usual time.
- Awakening dry from a nap.
- Telling you that they’re about to go, are going or have just gone in their diaper.
Even though Ailey was showing some signs of potty training readiness at the age of two, we did nothing. I am a firm believer that a parent should not force a child to do something too early and peeing on the potty is one of them. Plus potty training a child too early can lead to toilet accidents because the bladder may not be strong enough. And I hate cleaning up pee and poop.
Potty Training Supplies
A few months later we had a conversation with Ailey about going to the bathroom on the potty. We even sat her on the potty a few times. She did NOT like the big scary toilet, so Santa brought a cute pink potty just for Ailey. She immediately stripped down to try it out but nothing happened. Nothing ever happened on the potty for a solid week while it sat in the middle of the playroom. So, we put the tiny pink potty in the bathroom, next to the big potty, in case Ailey ever felt inspired to go.
One day during late spring Ailey asked if she could sit on her little potty while Annabelle sat on the big potty. I excitedly helped her undress and sit on the toilet. Obviously nothing happened the first time, but by the sixth time – Ailey went potty!
We didn’t rush out to purchase underwear as we all know Ailey has her own agenda. As a family we to NEVER pressure her to go, but instead to gently remind her the potty is there. I also offered a marshmallow reward in exchange for a pee on the potty and we recorded her success on a stamp chart.
MY SYSTEM ACTUALLY WORKED. In no time, Ailey was peeing on the potty in exchange for marshmallows. After a few days of dry diapers, we all celebrated her success with a no pants party on the deck. After a few minutes of freedom, Ailey peed on our outdoor rug. It was just an accident so we didn’t make a big deal. Later that evening she peed right on the potty when she had to go.
Supplies for Potty Training Outside of the House
So… we aren’t 100% potty trained…
So yah, there is the story of how my daughter potty trained herself. She is currently sporting training pants because we have yet to buy underwear. But Ailey goes to the bathroom on the potty all on her own throughout the day, without only 1 reminder to go at night. The only thing that deters us from being 100% potty trained: she REFUSES to go number 2. But that’s a story for another day.
Caitlin Houston is a Connecticut based life and style blogger.