On a random Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. (twelve days away from my little girl’s third birthday), her sweet little voice woke me up saying she had to go potty. I wasn’t fully awake and unsure I heard her correctly, but she was already heading toward the bathroom, so I figured I should follow her. She sat on the potty and… nothing. But she was willing to wear underwear and that was progress from the last unsuccessful attempt six months earlier!

So, I dug out all the previous paraphernalia, pulled up the rugs and got ready to clean up some messes. I stuck by her as she played, reminding her to tell me when she had to go, and then… she ran into the bathroom, shut the door, got herself situated, and suddenly I heard, “I went potty!” The Minnie potty said, “Hip, Hip, Hooray!” She picked out a sticker and we called Grandma to tell her of our exploits!

At that point, I played it safe and kept my expectations low. Maybe I was still asleep and having a really good dream (funny what’s considered a good dream when you become a mom).

But it happened again later that morning. She ran in all by herself, plopped herself down and out it flowed! There was no looking back after that. She had no trouble telling me when she had to go potty and even woke up dry each morning. Months later, when she had a few accidents, we quickly solved it with constant reminders and sticker incentives.

Lesson learned:  I am firmly NOT in control of my strong little first born. At times I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and strive to avoid disaster rather than raise the bar for success. 

But the truth is, I’ve learned a lot in the short time I’ve been potty training. Here are just a few of those lessons I want you to learn from as well:

Different methods work for different people 

Looking back on our first potty training attempt, I was too wound up and trying to get it just right. I honestly think I freaked my daughter out with my intensity and scared her about making a mess.  She was so afraid to wet her pants that she wasn’t willing to try again for several months. It was so much easier the second time because I was more relaxed and so was she.

Children develop at different rates

Don’t rush your child just because others around are doing it. Comparing our children to others is not fair to them or to you. You can rest assured they will be potty trained before they go to college!

Expect setbacks                                                                          

When her desire began to wane towards the end of the first day and she wanted to wear a diaper again, I didn’t freak out. I just had to figure out a way to motivate her to keep going in the potty. Reasoning with her and then distracting her did the trick. And when she had the occasional accident, I played it cool, like it was no big deal and we just moved on.

The failure of the first attempt forced me to re-evaluate my methods and her personality. I learned so much about us both which I would not have realized if we had been successful the first time through.

 

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Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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