Hi, I’m Amanda and this is me, in the corner, hanging my head in shame.
I’ve debated writing this post for a while, but couldn’t muster the courage to tell you that not only do I feel like a failure but also a fraud.
A few years back, I wrote one of my most popular posts ever, my potty training post. In it, I praise the 3-day method of potty training and I make it seem so easy. That potty training experience was with my very rule oriented, perfectionistic, Type A first son, J.
J was potty trained in 2 days. What can I say, he’s always been an over-achiever.
Then along came his brother, E, who is nothing like him. He’s my sweet, relaxed, easy-going boy.
E is now on month 2 of potty training. And I feel like a failure.
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A few months ago, E started showing all the signs that he was ready to potty train. He was staying dry longer, extremely interested in the potty, he could dress himself, plus he just seemed emotionally ready for the task.
So I scheduled out a few days on the calendar, bought some big boy undies, and a new potty seat.
I was ready. Let’s do this thing! After all, I’m a pro!
Darn kids always proving me wrong…
It was disastrous.
He wasn’t all that thrilled about his new undies, he got bored on the potty (even while reading his favorite Thomas book) and got utterly perturbed if he wet himself.
After a few days of these shenanigans, he cried, begged, and pleaded for a diaper.
I gave in because this obviously wasn’t working. Plus, I needed a break from the pain as well!
Even though I swore I’d never use pull-ups, we decided it was best to use them so he could still practice his potty skills without the anxiety of underwear.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago.
He asked me for underwear!! Hooray!! He’s ready!!
As I threw on his undies, I cheered. “Hazaah! We’re ready! No more diapers in this house!”
In three days this boy would be trained! I was so ready.
Here’s how the 3 Day Method worked for us…
- Day one: He stayed dry all day, but I sent him to the bathroom every two hours. Hey, this is going to be easy…now I know it was pure luck.
- Day two: One accident. I lost track of time and he had an accident because I didn’t send him. My bad, tomorrow he’ll be trained! I know it.
- Day three through today (2 weeks later): He has, at least, one accident a day. Yesterday he had three. Sigh…still not potty trained.
The little dude is doing great on the potty and goes anytime we ask him to. But, he’s still not telling us when he needs to go and my job has officially become timekeeper and tracker of E’s bathroom needs.
Hey, it’s okay. He’s showing some good signs that he’s almost there, just not quite yet.
Our plan is to just go with the flow. He wears undies most days, but sometimes I need him to be in a pull-up. I still take him to the bathroom every couple of hours and carry a change of clothes with me everywhere we go.
If a few weeks go by and he’s still not taking the initiative to go without being asked, I might start “incentivising” with a treat every time he goes. This is something I never thought I’d do, but after doing some research, it seems like this might be what he needs for that final push.
What to do when potty training fails
Stop and Try Again
Kids will tell you when they are ready.
If parents try to train too early, like I did, it will be a complete and utter failure.
If your child is crying about using the potty, then they are NOT ready.
Do yourself a favor and just stop trying. It’s not worth the frustration for both you and your child to continue training if it’s not working.
When they are ready, they will let you know.
Let your child lead you and potty train to their abilities right now.
Some methods of potty training, like the 3-day method, expect that kids will be fully trained with no accidents right away. This isn’t always doable for some kids.
It can take 9 months to a year for a child to be fully potty trained. It’s not usually a quick thing.
Some kids will struggle with pooping in the potty, others will still have nighttime wetting, some will be afraid of the big potty, and others will struggle with going to the bathroom without being promted.
My oldest just rocked it and it clicked after a few days. E needs to take a bit longer to train. He’s nothing like his brother, so of course, we won’t have the same experience potty training him.
Teach them the potty independence
Teach your little one to use the bathroom on their own and how to clean up their accidents (wet ones, not poop). This teaches them independence, responsibility, and consequences. Plus, if you don’t, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the bathroom and changing your kid’s clothes.
We taught E the potty song from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which teaches kids what to do in the bathroom.
If you have to go potty, stop, and go right away. Flush, and wash, and be on your way!
He knows what to do and we don’t have to be there every step of the way.
Also, I want him to feel the consequences for wetting himself, so I taught him how to clean up by himself. He’s capable, so I’m not asking too much from him. It would be different if he struggled with getting dressed.
Now, as soon as he has an accident, he goes to his room and changes without us telling him he has to.
Teaching independence in this teaches him that there are consequences for not using the bathroom.
Just Roll With It
Don’t stress that they aren’t fully trained yet. The more stress and anxiety you feel about it, the more stress and anxiety your child will have about it.
This can lead to even more problems with potty training.
I know it’s hard but just relax. They will train, every kid does at some point.
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Thanks for be willing to be honest with your readers. Us bloggers have to remember that honesty is so important when we’re writing about how to handle a certain situation. I have found myself in this spot before where I want to tell people how to solve a certain problem, but I don’t want to admit that I failed at it first (or multiple times before succeeding at it!) I want to just write about the success part, but that’s not all that helpful for our readers.
Thank you for being brave and being so honest about this. Kids are definitely different, and it’s great to hear you say that you thought you were an awesome potty trainer until your second kid came around. Many of my friends compare their kids to their friends’ kids and feel like they are terrible at potty training because their kid isn’t trained yet and other kids are. It’s great to know that it can be different even for the same mom!
Thank you Emily! I do try to be honest, but this situation really did force me to eat a bit piece of humble pie…haha. Yes, every child is different and this potty training experience has taught me that, yet again.
My son had all the signs of being ready… but wasn’t really getting it to click either. You know what worked? This reusable sticker book – http://amzn.to/1mWkn0g (affiliate). Seriously!! We gave him a BIG sticker (a big plane, train, car, etc) when he put the poop in the potty and a regular sticker when he went pee. The boy was potty trained after that!
Ha. I think it’s all about finding the right incentive for your child. Best of luck. Potty training is the worst.
How old is E? I’m curious because I have a just turned 3 this week daughter and she is no where near being potty trained. She can do #1 only when we prompt her and a lot of the times she only does it for the incentive. And we’re very not consistent. It was easier for my older daughter, she just did it. We put her in panties and never looked back.
Hi Courtney, he turned 3 a month ago. The biggest thing this situation has taught me is that each child is so different. Some need a bit more consistency and teaching while others will just get it without any problems. Good luck with your daughter!
This came at just the right time for us. My daughter, 2&1/2yo, seemed ready but a couple of weeks in – if I lose track of time accidents!! And we haven’t come close to poos on the potty. She just doesn’t seem to “get” the feeling of needing to go. Still this post has encourage me to persist & (try!) to stay relaxed about it. Thanks!
Yep, just relax. 2 months after I wrote this he finally said “I need to go potty, Mommy” and I about fell over. He’s only had one accident in 3 weeks, but I’m still reminding him to go more often than not, but he has started going on his own. Patience is the name of the game when it comes to potty training. They’ll all get there, it’s just a matter of time.
Ugh, We started potting training in Jan at 28 months. WE used the “Oh Crap Potty Training”Book. 8 months later and I finally caved and put her in pullups bc I couldn’t take the multiple clean ups a day. Some days its every time others not as many. We had baby #2 in June and I thought that might have something to do with it. It is so hard to stay positive. She now says Mommy Im not peeing while wetting her pull up :/ Im so tired and frustrated. Potty training and toddler/infant are really taking a toll on me. Glad Im not the only one.
Hahaha. This post makes me laugh so much! Thank you for sharing! We attempted a three day boot camp and read your first post in preparation… now after three days the number of failures has increased each day and when I googled ‘three day potty boot camp fail’ your second post came up! ? Your second experience sounds very similar to what we just went through. Thanks for sharing so we know we’re not alone!
Thank you for your honesty !!! You just changed my life.