Potty Training. Post #1.

4/21/2011 04:08:00 AM

(Those are the flowers and leaves that Lila picked for me today. Um, precious. She was so proud.)

What's the best thing to do the week before you're due to return back to work?

Start potty training!


Here was my goal: to potty train Lila.

Why: because I thought she was ready, I was tired of buying diapers and because I'd rather train her earlier than later. I've heard far too many horror stories about stubborn 4 year olds still in pull-ups.

So there. That's where I was starting from on Friday when we began this process.

Next, let me tell you my parenting style: I have learned that I can NEVER push anything on Lila. Ever. My firstborn is an independent, spirited child. She's by no means ill-behaved, instead she's methodical, quirky, imaginative, surprisingly intense and staunchly and fiercely unconstrained - a maverick, if you will. [hee hee].

I should have known that she would thumb her nose at the idea of potty training in "three days."

Yep, after some chatting with friends and with several people who have done this program successfully, I bought the PDF for $24.00. It's all about how to potty-train in 3 days. (See here.)

While this method does work for some children, I think this is yet another one of those parenting lessons. You know what I'm talking about: all children are different and what works for one, might not work the same way for another.

The premise behind the training is this:

  • The child must be 22 months. (Lila was 6 days short of 22 months when we started this. Sue me.)
  • You throw away all diapers with the help of your child. (We put ours in a garbage bag... um, Vivienne will be using them.)
  • You put your child in underpants. You explain to them that the underpants are DRY and that they need to keep them dry.
  • You introduce her to the potty chair and tell her that's where she needs to potty. The potty chair is to remain in the bathroom and is NOT to be moved.
  • THEN, you stay on your child for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT like white on rice. I mean, ON your child. You're attempting to learn their bathroom "cues" and to never miss one of their accidents. You're supposed to do "fun things" like bake and color. (Right. Try baking with an almost two-year-old. I'm assuming the 3.5 yr-old's are baking...)
  • You're not supposed to go ANYWHERE. No leaving the house. At all. Again, ALL of your attention is on your child all.day.long.
  • ALL the while you're supposed to say, "Tell Mommy when you have to go potty, ok!" a ba-jillion times -- like a hundred times a day. (You get tired of hearing yourself say it. So you know your kid is tired of hearing it)
  • When they have an accident, you scoop them up, run them to the bathroom and try to get them to go at least a LITTLE on the potty.
  • If they go - you make a HUGE DEAL. (Yay! You're such a big girl! How awesome! Wah-who!)
  • If they don't go - you remind them them to tell you if they have to go potty.
  • You're supposed to remain positive and upbeat throughout the three days. And, never say, "No! No! No!" or anything even remotely demoralizing.
  • Note: There are no pull-ups involved in this process -- you're going straight to underwear.
So, that's the jist.

Day #1 (Friday) - She went potty in the potty chair ONCE and peed on me 48 million times. She woke up dry from her nap and even slept through the night without any accidents. All day I feared her doing #2. (She never did it.) She was completely wigged out by being wet, though. (Which, I think is the point.) She napped horribly and it was just a not so great day.

My frame of mind: "Well, today was rough, but tomorrow is BOUND to be better... right?"

Day #2 (Saturday) - Total flop. Pee ALL over the floor. All over me. Went #2 in the potty. (Thank you, Jesus.) Was beginning to be a nasty cranky child. 

My frame of mind: "...Wow. This is harder than I had expected. I had no idea I'd be this wet. Tomorrow is her day. She's totally going to have this down. I mean, tomorrow is Day Three."

Day #3 (Sunday) - (The day she was supposed to be trained.) - I don't think she made it to the potty once, except to go #2. (Thank you again, Jesus.) Her attitude was TERRIBLE. Craig and I were annoyed. It as awful.

My frame of mind: "Omg. This is terrible. I wonder if we should put her back in diapers."

Day #4 - (Monday) - Shoot me. Terrible. Accidents everywhere. Lila was in a terrible mood. We were in a terrible mood. 

My frame of mind: "This sucks. She's never going to get it."

Day #5  - (Tuesday) - Still had NOT made it to the potty ONE TIME on her own. Craig and I re-thought our strategy and decided to implement some change on Day #6.

My frame of mind: "I don't want to emotionally scar this child. We have GOT to try something new." Craig and I decided to give it at least 2 weeks total.

Day #6 - (Wednesday) - She had four accidents early in the day and went to the potty THREE times at home, then TWICE at my sister's house. She even got out of the pool to go potty at my sister's house. 

My frame of mind: "I'm optimistic. I feel like she's starting to get it. Backing off of her is the BEST thing we can do."


Here's the deal...

There are some incredibly useful ideas in the 3-day potty training PDF. And, I think it would definitely work for some kids. (I know people who it has worked for!) It's reasonable and possibly do-able.

Here's why it isn't working on my kid:

Lila cannot ABIDE having someone on her so closely. Telling her to, "Tell Mommy when you have to go potty, ok!" a ba-jillion times a day was KILLING her. Following her around to play with her was annoying her. Asking her if her underpants were dry all the time was killing her. It was just too much. She was melting down, breaking down and losing her mind.

So were we.

So, I had to take a step back. Breathe. And realize that my child, bless her little heart, needs to do this her way.

I'm not going to emotionally scar my child by potty training her or by putting her back in diapers. But I AM going to do some damage if she sees how frustrated and annoyed her Daddy and I are getting...

So on Wednesday, we backed off. And when I say we backed off, we backed off.

And everyone's mood changed.

And we moved the potty.

Here's what we changed:

1.) We stopped asking her all.the.time. if she had to go potty or telling her to, "Tell Mommy when you have to go potty." Of course we still ask when she looks suspicious. And, we've started taking her to the potty at times that make sense: when she wakes up, after breakfast, before lunch, before her nap, etc.

2.) We moved her potty chair. At night, it's in her room. When she was helping me give Ferg a bath in my shower, we moved it to our bathroom and she used it there. In my opinion, she's far too young (22 months today) to know how to control her bladder. She's learning. That potty needs to be close.

3.) We aren't afraid of messes. If need be, rugs will be rolled up and Lila can pee all over our tile. She will learn. We will mop. No harm, no foul.

4.) We reward. We dance, we sing, we eat marshmallows WHENEVER she does her business. 

5.) We don't force. If she doesn't have to go, then she's free to get up and move around. No one's glueing her backside to that potty.

Here's what I have learned about potty training in just five days:

1.) The idea that it could be done in three days is a fallacy. It can't be. I don't believe it. No child is potty trained (sans any accidents) in three days. It's just not possible. Can they get a good foundation for potty training in three days? ABSOLUTELY. But completely trained? No.

2.) I thought there'd be a few messes. Um. There aren't a few - there are a few times 20. But, it's no bigs.

3.) Potty training is a journey. It doesn't happen over night. She's going to have good days and she's going to have bad days.

This, much like child birth, was something that no one ever told me the truth about. It's hard. It takes a tireless amount of time and attention and it's monotonous. But, it can be done.

I hope that a week from now I can tell you that we've made strides.

But if we haven't, it's ok. We'll figure it out.



  1. Good for you guys. For a)attempting b) sticking it out and c) figuring out how it works for Lila.

    (And LUCKY you for having tile floors!)

  2. I'm impressed that she's doing so well at only 22 months! Sophia would have went potty on everything (and me) 24/7 at 22 months. ;)

    The 3 day thing worked wonders for us (it actually only took 2 days; no lie. No accidents at all starting at day 3.) when she was 26 months. We followed the same 'changes' you did. We moved the potty where ever she was playing. We didn't bug her all the time by asking. We'd only ask if she was bouncing around holding herself (cue). We also NEVER made her just sit on the potty.

    You are so right, it's so stressful! I remember being so exhausted those few days and thinking "why did I think this was a good idea?". Who ever says it's easy is crazy.

    Funny story: A friend of mine tried training her 3 year old girl recently. She fed her glass after glass of water and made her sit on the potty for over an hour (all while making her drink and drink and drink). No potty. Eventually, the little girl threw up all over my friend. She said she couldn't even be mad at her, she just laughed. It made her realize, "What the heck am I doing to my kid?!" The next day, without bothering her at all, the 3 year old (out of nowhere - while back in diapers) said "Mama, I have to go potty please". Trained. Bam. So funny. Kids have their own watch. They do.

    Wish I could have helped you more. :(

  3. OMG it's SO difficult. Wiz is 28 months, TWENTY EIGHT and he flat out refuses to drop deuces, but will pee in the potty all day long. If I don't stay on him though, he will pee in his pants. Please keep me posted, and any and all hints/tips are welcome!

  4. You know I know nothing of potty training, but many friends have had great results using cloth diapers. Certain ones (those w/ natural fibers) feel wet and help with potty-learning. The theory is that if your little one feels dry all the time, s/he doesn't mind going in a diaper, and/or doesn't really realize what's going on.


    P.S. the word veri below is "unmop". Like you might unmop your floor...?

  5. Henry (who is almost 3 1/2) is no where near ready. (He has autism and just doesn't "get it"). Keira is Lila's age and we haven't started yet. I need to get my act together or I'll have 2 five year olds in diapers! Ugh. ;-/

  6. I felt like I had the whole parenting thing somewhat whooped until potty training, it was the hardest thing thus far. Alex slept 12-14 hours a night by 6 weeks, took two long naps a day and never sucked a pacifier or fingers so I guess she had to be a pain in the butt about something. I finally just had to change how I talked to her about it and it finally clicked. I was thankful the whole going #2 on the potty wasn't an issue. She mastered that faster than #1 and it sounds like that's not usually the case.

    I love hearing you describe Lila, it sounds like our firstborn children are very much alike. I'm so glad Alex is that way but it can be tough to parent for sure.

  7. A for effort! Lila will get it before you know it :)


  8. I love your attitude and the adjustments you made with Lila. She'll get it! She will.

    Question - do you keep her in underwear at night? We shot ourselves in the foot with that one - the girls were trained during the day, but then wore pullups at night until they were practically 5. It drove me insane how difficult it was to break them of the habit of wearing pullups at night. It was so difficult for them to keep the pullups dry. In hindsight I wish I would have transitioned them to underwear and had them wear it ALL the time instead of introducing pullups at night!

    Keep us updating on her progress! :)

  9. You are so brave! I am too tired to attempt any such thing right now. I hope Lila continues to climb the potty ladder.

  10. seriously, potty training is the most stressful thing...it took us forever to get Liv "trained" and then we had emma and the "training" went out the window and Liv went back to diapers. Until she was 3 1/2. Then we still used PullUps at night til age 4. Emma flat out REFUSED to be potty trained until she went back to daycare and they did it in a week (thank you daycare!). She came home one day, declared "I'm a big girl!" and then threw out all her PullUps. We never used another diaper. Her age? 3 1/2.

    Best of luck....sending good "potty training vibes" your way! :)

  11. Good luck my friend.

    I think it shows what a great mommy you are by adjusting to what works for Lila. And I am sure she will get it, even if it isn't right now, and you will know when she is ready to try again!


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