What do I do if training hasn’t gone well so far? I’m frustrated, my child doesn’t seem to care! He’s not getting it and I cannot stand to clean up any more poop and pee! This isn’t fun at all! If this is you, keep reading…there’s hope I promise!
I recently wrote all about my Potty Training in ONE day series. If you haven’t already please read those first three posts first. The first post was about the mindset going into this style of training. The second post was how to prepare for the day of training. And the third post was what steps to take on the actual day of potty training.This method comes from this book:
This book and this method have been around for a long time and has been used by thousands of moms I’m sure. I am certainly not the one who came up with this method, however, having used it now 5 times I can say I am a firm believer in the fact that this method is genius! It was originally created as a method to teach children with Downs Syndrome, until they realized that the method was so effective it could be used on just about any toddler.
The book will give a few more insights into the details of the potty training day and some more in depth descriptions for the method so feel free to get it and read it and gain even more knowledge.
What I wrote out is basically the cliff’s notes with some real life pictures to help other moms grasp the method as simply and as quickly as possible. My very first post about the relationship being first priority is my own thoughts and feelings being added to this method. While the method is solid in and of itself, I honestly feel it is meaningless if the steps being mastered takes priority over the relationship being cultivated between parent and child. It is for those reasons that I didn’t just simply write a short post of where to buy the book.
These final thoughts are about some troubleshooting ideas. I’ve asked permission from my friends and have decided to share with you a few of the questions I have recently received in regards to potty training to give some direction on how to handle things if training has been less than stellar so far. My responses are obviously toward that individual and their specific situation, but I am hoping that by letting you in on those conversations it might give some direction on how to navigate whatever troubles you might be having in your own situation.
Ashley: Hi Meg, we need some help. Do you have any potty training recommendations for a stubborn 28 month old boy? He and I are driving each other mad!
Meg: Hi Ashley, what have you done so far?
Ashley: Naked for a few days, undies. He knows how to control the muscles and can, but will just pee a teaspoon then say all done and refuse to sit any longer!
Meg: Then what happens? Does he pee on the floor after that?
Meg: How’s the dynamic between you two? Does he see you’re upset or does he think it’s no big deal?
Ashley: I’m definitely impatient
Meg: How has he responded to your impatience? Saddened or hardened?
***Note: At this point I had gathered enough information to know that my friend Ashley was responding to her child the same way I had in Post 1 with Crew. Her child was clearly not feeling connected to his mom and rather than learn the skill of potty training he was reacting to his mother’s anger and frustration. When a disconnect between parent and child is so glaringly obvious, it becomes clear that the skill of peeing and pooping in a potty is a secondary issue. Restoring the relationship by whatever means possible becomes the primary issue…
Me: Well….here’s the thing….you’ve basically got three options….
1. Keep doing what you’re doing and hope with all your might that he just “gets” it eventually. With this option, I could bet a large sum of money on the fact that you will continue to have accidents for many weeks, possibly months, and most likely bed wetting for what could be years. With this option, nobody wins. He stays mad. You stay mad. There is distance in your relationship and there’s lots and lots of pee and poo to clean up in your future. In my opinion this option is really not an option…so let’s keep going….
2. Apologize to him for your impatience, especially if you’re hurried, and have an I’m “put out” attitude toward him and his hardness with the accidents. The relationship needs to matter far more than him learning to potty correctly. With this option you’ll focus on tending to the relationship first while also trying to get him to still learn the skill of pottying too. Tell him that “momma is so sorry and ask him if you can start over with him”. Hug him and kiss him as much as possible and do everything within your power to restore him to softness. If he seems to respond well and seems to soften then ask him if you can start over with potty training. Ask him if he is scared. Or if he is mad. See if there is ANYthing that you can get out of him (at his age I don’t expect him to be able to have a full length conversation about his feelings, but try as best you can to relate to him) as to what is going on.
If he seems to respond positively to starting over and trying a new way, then move forward with the potty training in one day method….but YOUR attitude toward him needs to be polar opposite from what it has been. You’ve GOT to be patient and loving and spoil him rotten with treats and goodies when he does well. You can’t be mad anymore. You cannot take his lack of learning personally. You’ve got to cover him with love, encouragement, and affection. This option is definitely a real possibility but it will be a huge, huge challenge to overcome what memories have already been made during the past few days of frustration. There is far more hope of things going differently but you still may very well have the outcome and struggles of option 1.
Think of it this way….how would you feel if one day your undergarments that you’ve worn your whole life were taken off of you, and at the same time you had to learn a new skill that you weren’t good at and all the while someone you love dearly was angry at you the whole time? I know how I’d respond. It’d be either in tears or in full-on angry too.
3. The third option is what I would actually recommend. Put him back in diapers. Just like in option #2 tell him that you’re sorry for how this has gone and tell him that you didn’t mean to push him in a way that wasn’t helpful, that you love him dearly and that you trust that in a little bit longer he’ll be able to learn. (Waiting another month or two is not a big deal unless you are pressed to get it done before a huge life change.) Tell him that you don’t want to be mad at him anymore but that you now see the time isn’t right.
At this point the stress is fully removed. You can focus again on building trust between you two and you can fully relax and just love on him for awhile. This is NOT to be a shaming thing for him, rather tell him he just doesn’t need to worry about it anymore. And then spend the next few days/weeks restoring him in every way possible. Read to him, let him sit in your lap, take him for a walk with just you…whatever it takes. Show him his heart and you guys being close again is what matters to you the most.
Unless he is incredibly mad at being put back in diapers, which I’m hoping he isn’t, then he will most likely be able to relax again and his demeanor and attitude will change toward happiness and pleasantries once more.
Ashley: Option 3 sounds like the way to go! He is already back in diapers so we all can rest but I think some repentance on my and my husbands part needs to happen. That will happen today. And hopefully an ice cream date! We will give it some time and try your potty train in a day in a month or a few when we all have gotten over this experience.Thank you Meg for seeking out the heart of this situation and taking time out of your crazy busy life to help us out.
Me: My pleasure! I’m so glad that’s the option you’re choosing. Let’s rewrite this for all of you! And do everything you can to put the potty out of his mind for now. Take away anything that would remind him of it. No more little potty seat and no more little stool for him to climb up. No more potty books or underwater for him to see. It’ll help you later when you get those things back out to have it be a new and different thing rather than it just still being visible and available from now until then.
**A few months later I received this next message….
Ashley: Here’s the update! Hi, we took a break and came back to it with lots of treats, and a sticker chart. He still asks for treats sometimes when he goes poop even though it was months ago lol. We have also learned he will do literally anything to be told a story. So we tell him a story while he goes, and while we brush and floss his teeth, really he will gladly do anything if you tell him a story. He was all over it! We almost never have accidents. He’s definitely not ready for nights and naps though and I am totally fine with that for now.
Amber: Hi lady! Potty question after reading today’s post – I have been putting Jeremiah on the potty since he was about 10 months old. If I could see him needing to go, I just hold him on the potty to let him go. It is easier and less messy than poopy diapers. Now that he is almost 2, I put him on in the morning when he wakes up and at other times when I can tell he needs to. Sometimes he will say poop but most times he can’t tell me yet since he’s still so young. But he does say poop usually after he poops so he does know that he’s done it. Sometimes I ask him if he needs to poop and he will answer. Anyway, he’s too young I know but I had just started doing this a long time ago. After reading the Potty Training in One Day posts on your blog, does that mean I can’t do the 1 day method later when he is older?
Me: Good question…..I think you probably still could because it sounds like he is responsive to it. I have never ever done it that way tho so it’s hard to say…I would think as long as you just keep it really simple for now and then make a big build up later for that one day you’d probably still be successful. You’ll just have to make a big big deal that there’s no going back to diapers ever ever ever after that training day. I think the fact that he isn’t afraid of the potty and he is learning what it’s for is encouraging.
The part that worries me is that it is usually the kids that just see the potty there all the time and sometimes go and sometimes don’t go that tend to struggle the most. Those kiddos are usually the ones that grow too comfortable with it just always being there and are still getting to mess themselves in their diaper. Those are usually the ones whose parents just sort of hope they’ll “get it” some day and end up taking much longer than needed to get this skill to stick.
As far as this method, I think it’s the build up, and the actual process of the day that marks their minds for good that helps with really getting the skill mastered. All of that to say I think you could very well keep doing what you’re doing but would still definitely aim toward that big day build up in the future. Keep phrasing things to him like “one day you’ll get to do this EVERY time not just sometimes! “Your big day is coming” and so on…..
Lucy: Hi Meg. I’ve trained Ben to use the potty and even did the potty training in one day method. But at night time he has had about 3 accidents in the first few weeks following training day. I have him in pullups, but I don’t want him to have to use them anymore. When I go get him in the morning I can tell the pee is fresh and I think he just did it only a few minutes before I got in there! Do you have any suggestions for night time training?
Me: Does Ben sleep in a crib or in a toddler bed?
Lucy: In a toddler bed
Me: Have you taught Ben that it is okay for him to get out of his bed on his own to use the potty should he need to go in the night or early morning?
Lucy: Oh gosh I never thought of that.
Me: It might be that he needs to be taught that it’s okay to get up on his own instead of waiting for you to come get him like you used to when he was in a crib.
Lucy: Okay, so maybe he just is still waiting for me to come in and get him in the morning?
Me: Yes, it very well could be. Sometimes there are other factors that go into potty training that are helpful to think through like where a child is sleeping and patterns that have already been set. I transitioned my kids from a crib to a toddler bed at around the same time I potty train. That way they had the ability to get out and go by themselves. I would suggest you take Ben into his bedroom and close the door just like it would be when he is asleep, and have him lay in his bed. Have him pretend like he is waking up and walk through each of the steps of how to get out and how to open the door and how to walk to the restroom (or come get you) by himself.
Lucy: Okay! I’ll try that and let you know how it goes!
Lucy: So here’s the update. I kept Ben in pull ups for a few more nights just in case, but showed him exactly what to do if he needed to go. I realized he thought he was going to get into trouble if he got out of bed by himself. Now he is out of pull ups and gets up on his own to go potty every morning.
Some final thoughts:
Although this method is Potty Training in ONE day, I would highly suggest a few days of reinforcement following the day of training. The skills your child learns on that single day should most definitely be in tact, but most likely will need a bit of time to be reinforced. Plan to keep things simple for a couple of days. Try to not have too many distractions or too many outtings. Keep it fairly low-key. If you are planning to travel shortly after, then maybe just wait to train until you get back to do the actual training. Don’t stack up a ton of errands to do all at one time. If you do have to get out and about allow for breaks and plan in some stops to help prompt and ask if your child needs to go.
Helpful Tip: The portable potty seat you had for training is great to take with you if you have to run errands. You can line it with a plastic bag so it’s easy to get rid of. I keep wipes and toilet paper with me in the car too.
When your child goes through this method they quickly learn to recognize the need to pee and poo, but it takes a bit of time to get the hang of timing. In those early days just fresh from learning, a child will often say they need to “go” but give only about a minute’s warning. The key in those follow up days is to help your child find somewhere quickly. Taking along that potty seat is super helpful. For about 3 weeks following training day I would literally just pull over, find an empty parking lot, create a private space in how I positioned my car, and get him set up to go.
This has been extremely helpful when I am out running errands with all five kids and would reeeeeaaaally rather not have to get them ALL out of their car seats to hurry into a dirty public restroom only to have ALL of their hands all over everything while I help the newly trained child! (ewwww….)
Please let me know if there are any other questions! I would love to help anyone/everyone that I am able!