Posted by: Tricia | September 4, 2010

Get on the Potty Train!

Potty training has always intimidated me.  There are so many ways to do it; so many expert opinions; so many variables as to when the best time to start is.  And, then there’s the hands-on dirty work once you finally decide to take the plunge and go for it.  Ick!  Cleaning up soiled underpants, mopping up puddles of tee-tee from the floors and furniture, missing out on play dates and being stuck in the house for fear of public accidents…I dreaded it all.

It is probably this sense of dread that caused me to start introducing Elliott to all things “potty” slowly.  We’ve had a potty chair in our house for over a year now.

In fact he had his first poo in the potty more than a year ago, before he turned two.   I couldn’t help myself…I had to take a picture…and a video, of course!

After Elliott turned two he seemed to wake up in the morning and after naps with wet PJ’s and sheets more and more often.  So, we started asking him to go potty before naps and bedtime to avoid this problem.  That, paired with cutting back on fluids earlier in the evening really worked!  Plus, it got him in the routine of going potty before bed long before we officially started potty training.

A few months before we purchased some big boy underwear and Elliott practiced wearing them around the house a few times.  He would pick out the ones he wanted to wear and we’d tell him to tell us if he needed to go potty.  He had a few accidents in them, but it didn’t seem to bother him. We didn’t make a big deal about either.  I think this helped get him used to the feel of the underwear because at first he really seemed to miss the way his diapers felt.

As the big day grew closer I did a lot of online research about potty training.  I got crafty and made a few posters to inspire Elliott.

And, of course I made sure I had plenty of candy to reward him for going poo in the potty!

We also had some “grand prizes” waiting to be awarded at the end of the week (the pirate sward came with a pirate hat that has since been mutilated, but you get the point.  They were something that he had seen in the store and had been wanting.)

We started talking to Elliott about learning to go potty like a big boy a few days before “the day” and he seemed on board.  It was helpful to already have baby Jude around to use as an example.  Elliott understood that he was a big boy and not a baby like Jude.  He seemed excited about the stickers, the candy, and especially the prizes!

The first day went great!  We set the timer for 30 minutes all day long and gave Elliott fluids like normal.  He stayed dry all day!  Every time he went tee-tee we would ask him if he needed to go poo, too.  His answer was always “NO!”  That evening he did poo…in his underwear.

We decided to nix the “timer” method the next day and resorted to frequent reminders.  Elliott did great with this.  I’m writing this post nearly three months late, but if I’m remembering  correctly, he only had a handful of accidents at home, most of them being poops.

Within a few days Elliott was telling us he needed to go tee-tee on his own some of the time.  We continued to offer frequent reminders though.  I did a lot of research online trying to find a way to prevent the poop accidents.  It seemed, at times, like he was flat out lying to us about not needing to go.  We would ask him if he needed to go, say before a nap, and he’d answer “nope.”  Then, a few minutes later he’d call us into his room to say that he needed to go, but he’d already gone in his underwear.  We considered spanking him for this behavior, but after doing a lot of research I learned that it might perpetuate the problem.  I also tried putting his potty chair in front of the television after lunch and had him sit there for an hour, just waiting for it to come on its own…it never did.  As it turns out, I think he really wasn’t familiar with his body’s warning signs.  It took a few accidents, and a bit longer than learning the warning signs for tee-tee, but within a few more days, Elliott was telling us when he needed to go poo as well.

As I mentioned in this post, it was a big ordeal trying to get Elliott to poop in the big potty.  Common to a lot of potty trainees, he was just flat out scared to do it.  And, for being such a verbal child, it surprised me that he couldn’t quite communicate why he was scared to do it.  He just was.  We tried many methods to convince him that it was ok, but in the end, the “poop party” logic worked best.  What’s a poop party, you ask?  Well, it’s a party in the pipes just for poops.  How do they get there, you ask?  They jump into the pool and slide down under the house.  What’s going on there, you ask?  They are having the best time, wearing poop party hats, eating poop party cake, and playing poop party games.  And, they want all of their poop friends to join them!  Hooray!  And, there’s one under every house, restaurant, and store…all of them.  No exceptions.  Can you go too, you ask?  No way.  It would be way to scary for a person to go to a poop party.  Plus, you couldn’t fit down the slide anyway.  No people allowed…just poops.

Again, I’m writing this a bit late, but I would say that after 2 weeks of nothing but potty talk, promises for rewards, and negotiations, we were able to settle back into our normal routines.  It’s nice to be able to take a deep breath and know that we have crossed this bridge.  Going to the potty is just a normal part of Elliott’s day now!

I was surprised at how easy it really was.  I also discovered that the whole process really lingers on and on.  Even though Elliott can recognize when and where he needs to go, I would say that we are and will be “training” Elliott to use the potty for quite some time.  We still have to remind him to “watch where he’s aiming” and he still has a lot of trouble getting his underwear and pants on by himself.  He’s pretty good about remembering to flush, but has to be reminded to wash his hands.  And, of course, he is still wearing pull-ups at night.

Looking back I am really happy with the way things progressed for Elliott.  I’m glad that we bought him a potty chair early on and that we encouraged him to use it before naps & bedtime.  I think this made the actual act of pottying easier when it came time to really start potty training.  And, I am sooooo glad that we waited until after Jude was born and closer to when Elliott turned three to start.  It was somewhat difficult having a newborn and a potty training toddler in the house, but I don’t think it would have been any easier as a working mom and 8 months pregnant!  No one can say for sure that he would have regressed had we started earlier, but I think starting later made the process go faster.

Well, folks, if you’re still reading this I am truly sorry that you’ve had to endure all of the gruesome details of this potty training saga.  As a reward I’ll leave you with a picture of the cutest potty-trained boy in the whole wide world testing out his prizes.  And, please, don’t forget to notice the big boy underwear!  Hooray!




  1. Ah! Little E on that potty chair is so cute…I can’t believe how much he’s grown. (That is such a cliche mommy statement, but it’s true!)

    I’m so glad you guys had a happy potty training experience. It’s different for everyone, but it seems like E caught on in no time. Your train chart is too stinking cute too. B would have loved that.

  2. […] came about. Perhaps he saw something on a TV show or read about them in a book. Perhaps it was the hat and sword he scored for completing his potty training. Or, maybe it was the awesome pirate ship that he […]

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