April Showers and Bathroom Powers | The Power Struggle That is Potty Training

“Mom I have to tinkle!” “Mom come wipe my butt!” “Pee potty! Pee Potty” Oh yes – we all know the phrases and how you must move with urgency before we run out of time!! For me, I always feel like I am dealing with a time-sensitive bomb when potty training my girls. I have read every article and tried every technique. With my girls being almost 2 and 3 potty training has become my life – in fact I spend a majority of the day in our tiny 4ft by 10ft full guest bathroom. So what have I learned? Potty training is about power – that’s right – power! It is one of the few things our children control and we as parents really can’t. So how do you gain some power and control while letting a toddler run the show? Well that, my friends, is the million dollar question! No I do NOT have the answers, but here you will find some of the major things I have learned about this power struggle.

Are they (and you) really READY? This is the most important question before you begin! My oldest daughter started asking to use the potty right at a year when her sister was born. At that point I knew the answer was a solid NO! First of all she had just started talking, I was struggling to breastfeed and totally out of sorts with adding another child so soon.

When Viv asked again at 15 month I was ready and so was she – since then she was completely potty trained by the time she was two. Listed below were the tell-tale signs that my kids (and possibly yours) are ready:

  1. I think the most important sign that a child is ready is COMMUNICATION! So you put your 8 month old on the potty and they peed great! But until they can tell you that they need to use the restroom, I do not think they are ready.
  2. They pull off their diaper or can’t stand when it is no longer clean. At this point they should be looking for a solution to the problem. Potty training should be your obvious answer for this – otherwise your wall may end up painted like mine – eek!!
  3. They wake up with some regularity with a dry diaper either during nap time or at bed time. If they can hold it while they sleep this shows much more control over their blatter than just the basics.

Please don’t be one of those parents that tries to ‘schedule’ when you begin potty training. I promise you that it will just end with a lot of screaming and tears (many of them your own)! Your child will NOT go to college still wetting the bed. They may not be able to go to that 3 year old class at church – but they will ultimately get the hang of it – and everyone will be less traumatized as a result!

Encouragement over force “Hurry up and pee already” – I find myself thinking and embarrassingly saying this phrase often. But the bottom line is – I CANNOT URINATE OR HAVE A BOWEL MOVEMENT FOR MY CHILD. Why is this lady writing in all caps you may be asking – because I have to yell this to myself daily! Children LOVE the extra attention of potty training and sometimes communicate that they need to go when really they just want your attention. Or they may have stage fright, a tough go at things, whatever – but let me be the first to tell you THEY are in control of their own bodily functions! No matter how much I scream, dance, jump, sing, or read – if they do not want to go, they will not go. Period. So what CAN you do?

  1. In the beginning sitting on the potty for more than 5 seconds without getting up is an accomplishment! Toddlers hate to sit still, so convincing them to sit for the restroom can be tiresome. We used a LOT of books, singing, and even puppets to keep them on the toilet. Take each step slowly – sitting on the potty with clothes, without clothes, using the restroom and finally no accidents. Do not try to skip steps, take your time, and don’t be afraid to start the steps over!
  2. Every action that leads to potty training is a success and needs to be celebrated! There will be regressions, many in fact, but every time they use the restroom that is one less diaper and one more step towards being fully trained. So celebrate those moments – do a dance, give a sticker, whatever it takes. Children need that constant encouragement.
  3. Show them what success looks like! Now I am not saying to give up the oasis that is the restroom (yes Mom’s I know it can be our only break). But talk about how you as the parent/adult don’t have accidents. Talk about having to go, holding, it, and maybe even demonstrating. You are the model – so don’t be afraid to put your child on the small potty while you go yourself (not every time but on occasion). I was amazed at how quickly things picked up after I started truly modeling using the restroom.

I am not above a bribe – Yup, I thought I was going to be one of those parents who could use just verbal compliments and non-food treats and my children would behave. WRONG! I needed chocolate for potty training – HA! Now I don’t give them treats every time – for instance if they have an accident then they do not get a treat the next time. Also after they get the hang of things I wait until they ask for a treat before I freely give them up. I also make a sticker chart for when they went number two with an option to earn a small toy after a certain number of accomplishments. It’s not elaborate or pretty but it worked!


{Picture by Lauren C. Carlisle}

But your child may not be motivated by treats, stickers, or even toys – so find what works for you and your child!

Tools of the Trade – What tools? Aren’t they born with them? Well yes – but there are SOOO many gadgets out there ‘to help’ with potty training. I went out and bought a kiddie potty, plush seat cover, and even disposable seat covers. Honestly, those kiddie potties are gross and I wish I didn’t have one. However, I do find it convenient when potty training two at once. I also put it in the trunk of my car so we can use that instead of a public restroom – just put a grocery bag to cover the bowl. The disposable seat covers are nice – but toilet paper is just as good and FREE. Lastly the plush seat cover is my favorite. Its easy to clean, store, and gets them ready to use the regular toilet quicker. So in short, there is no ‘quick fix’ gadget that makes this any easier – which I find is true for most things these days!

Patience – You can never have enough during this whole experience. They WILL have accidents. They WILL use it to their advantage. There WILL be regressions. They may even use the restroom in defiance (yes the most frustrating). Remember they are in control and you can only help direct them in the right direction. Screaming, punishment, and force will not bring your children any closer to being trained. Don’t be afraid to take a minute or a complete break then try again. The more patience you have, the more likely this training will be successful and completed relatively quickly.

My final thoughts – potty training is the worst for control freaks like me who live their lives on a regimented schedule. I mean I am so regimented that I show up to work an hour early every day!! Unfortunately, this is something I cannot control – but can encourage and guide in the right direction. Make sure your child understands it is up to them to make the decision and you will adjust accordingly – you will have to in order to be successful! So hang in there… try multiple techniques and one day it will all be just a blurred memory!


Lauren Cop is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins by day and coaches ciao_laurencop_sig-01
Volleyball and Track in her “me time”. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow herTwitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

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