Okay, maybe not.
The truth is, and what most books won't tell you, is that potty training is called training for a reason. It starts with an introduction class, and then implementation, and finally, mastering. The duration of each stage is different for every person, er, baby. But it is hard work on the part of the parent, especially if you start early.
If there's anything you should remember during the couple of years it takes to reach mastery, it is the word, "nonchalant." Potty training cannot be a big deal unless you are celebrating success. You need to learn to have your game face on, even if their behavior during the rest of the day is terrible.
You can lead a toddler to the potty, but you can't make him pee. Or poop. Like eating, using the facilities is totally under their control. Do not engage in a battle with a toddler. Just remember, they will get it eventually and will use the toilet by the time they go to kindergarten. As annoying as accidents are, and as many undies get put in the trash because of poop, do not become emotionally involved.
So psych yourself up for a long ride. Your baby (and you) are about to start potty boot camp!
Okay, so I didn't mention this earlier when I labeled the three stages of potty training. But this pre-potty training period can be crucial, especially to a kid who hates change. It is also helpful for a strong-willed child to prepare ahead of time for the intense event. You can use a simple verbal encouragement while changing diapers, "Soon you won't wear diapers. Soon you are going to wear undies and go pee on the potty." Word it the way you'd like, of course.
If you've got an older child (3 or over) and you are waiting until they initiate, then "Maybe soon you will want to use the potty so you can wear fun undies." Again, word it the way you'd like.
A visual helps as well. I personally love the Bjorn potties and seats, but you can shop around at Babies R Us or Target. Pick one that is convenient for you, and one you like. It's going to be your steady companion for a few months. Have baby sit on it before bath, or when you are on the toilet, or before bed. Any chance you get. . .it's a great segway.
Along with a potty you'll need your bribes, er, rewards. In our house, we call these rewards, "potty candy". I have used candy corn, M&M's, Skittles, chocolate pieces and lollipops. But so far, my favorite has been the chewy gumdrops (not gum) from Trader Joe's. Expect a lot of candy eating for a couple of days.
A yummy juice is helpful as well. And if your child has #2 problems, I heard apricot or papaya juice will soften the load a little, if you know what I mean.
Okay, so it really only takes one day to introduce a child to the potty. So here, in bullet form, is how you do it:
- Ditch the diapers. Under no circumstances do you go back. It's undies/panties/pull-ups from now on. The only time I have ever reverted to diapers was when my 5 year old peed at the store and all I had was a diaper in the car. She wasn't very happy with me that day.
- The first goal is the sitting part. So get your bribes ready (preferable something chewy, like Trader Joe's chewy gumdrops) and get them to sit for a bit. I've been known to cheat and have Henry sitting there for 2 Dora episodes. But 5-10 minutes should suffice. You'll have to gauge it based on how much yummy juice he's drinking.
- Don't forget, nonchalant except during success. We like "Happy pee/poop on the potty to you" sung to the tune of "Happy Birthday". Accidents will happen. Think of it as a lifestyle change. You're in an adjustment period. Keep your poker face on, and practice saying, "whoops, maybe next time you'll pee in the potty."
- Have a timer going to help you keep track. I start with 20 minutes from the time they get up.
- The potty chair is now your friend. You will take it everywhere. It will be used before you get out of the car, and when you get back to the car. It will be taken to Grandma's house. It will be in your kitchen while you are fixing meals. It will go with you to the pool, older siblings' sports practices, doctor appointments, camping. . .you get the idea
- I teach my boys to pee sitting down. So get used to saying, "Make sure your penis is pointing down." When they have control over holding it, then Daddy steps in and they have potty parties. Gross, I know. But male bonding often is. Oh, and speaking of those boy parts, yes they will play with it. I try to discourage it without making a big deal, only because I find it irritating to be sitting there next to the potty waiting and he's just playing around.
- If you find you are pooping out (haha), take a break and use those trust pull-ups. The first day is often the hardest. Just remember that the goal is the introduction.
- Repeat the first day until there is more independence. You'll notice that they will start resisting the sitting down. Be flexible. After a few days, you'll be able to tell when they have to go because they actually sit for a minute. When they start holding it and using the potty when told (not asked) then you've successfully potty trained. Woohoo!
- Hopefully during the process, you'll graduate from candies/treats to high fives and the privilege of flushing the toilet.
- What to do when you need to go places? Putting undies on them is risky, but one worth taking. If in doubt, use a pull-up. Bring your trusty potty/toilet seat. It's a pain, but get used to it. You'll have potty issues until they are 6. Not to be a Debbie-downer, just keepin' it real.
- This stage varies in length, depending on the child and what life is like for the family. Just stay persistent, and non-emotional. Expect accidents, prepare to improvise, and work with kid. No problem, right?
- You'll notice that as soon as the concept clicks, life becomes so much easier. Well, maybe not. New things will arise: too busy to potty, one painful poop to cause months worth of problems, refusal to wear any kind of undies, older boys who pee in their pants without knowing because they're playing video games, little boys who pee randomly in other people's yards because that's what they do in yours, little girls who just don't care about running around in pee, etc. . .
- The mastery is complete when you can finally send them to the bathroom at Costco and they actually lock the stall, use the toilet, unlock the stall, wash their hands with soap, and not touch anything. All independently. Then, it's on to other parenting issues.