The Terrors of Toddler Potty Training

Lessons in the journey

Is it possible to eliminate diapers before college?

Just talking about the idea of potty training was enough to strike terror in my heart and send me into a near panic attack.

I was feeling the pressure...

I was surrounded by seasoned potty training veterans and even they were not looking forward to the prospect with their next child. But all of them were dutifully training their two year olds to move successfully toward his or her next developmental milestone and I was feeling the pressure to be amongst their ranks.

One of my friends told me of a down and dirty three-day boot camp method with which she had found success. She sent me the link and I read through it several times trying to get my mind around it and work up the nerve to get started.

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We had been doing all typical things that lead up to potty training:

• talking about being a big girl and going in the potty
• letting her pick out a pink Minnie Mouse potty that cheers when you “flush” (completely unnecessary, but so very cute!)
• letting her pick out matching Minnie Mouse big girl underwear
• buying stickers and potty treats
• letting her pick out a special juice to keep her ‘hydrated’

      So on the day I was ready to start, I pulled up the rugs, had the disinfectant standing by, and got out all the necessary paraphernalia. The book I read said I was to make a big deal about getting rid of diapers, being a big girl, and reminding her frequently to “tell Mommy when you have to go!”

      Should I put a diaper on her (even though I was supposed to get rid of them) so she could get a good nap or should I keep with the system and hope she didn’t wet the bed?

      Many accidents and reminders, with little success, followed until the first major decision came at nap time. Should I put a diaper on her (even though I was supposed to get rid of them) so she could get a good nap or should I keep with the system and hope she didn’t wet the bed? Back and forth I went in my mind, weighing the options, not completely sure what to do. I decided to put a diaper on and put her in bed. 

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      That decision, as it turned out, was the beginning of the end. She wouldn’t take her diaper off or sit on the potty after that without a major melt down. All the advice I’d read about pushing your child and making potty training a negative experience was swirling in my head and the experience had me feeling like a total failure. After an emergency call to my friend, I decided to wait a few months and try again. I finally reasoned that we would get this figured out before she goes to college and at least I didn’t have to clean pee off the floor that day.

      Round 2 didn’t happen for several more months when she decided she was ready—and that took me completely by surprise. That’s when I realized I had learned a few things through the whole process (which you can read about in 3 Lessons Learned from 2 Rounds of Potty Training 1 Toddler).

      Annie Wiesman

      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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