I am a mom of five young kids and I have successfully trained my first four children to use the potty on their own in only ONE SINGLE DAY. Yep, just one. I don’t use pull ups, there have not been more than two accidents per child following training day and my kids have been able to independently use the restroom without continual prompting/soliciting or physical assistance required on my part.
There have been a few moms through the years that have rolled their eyes in disbelief that ANY child, much less FOUR children, could have possibly been trained in just one single day. And if I’m honest, after training my first child, I had sort of wondered if I had just lucked out too.
But I used the same method with my second and again had wondered if maybe it was just lightning striking twice.
Then the third…
were the EXACT same experience!!!
All trained in JUST ONE DAY!!
And at that point there was no denying that this method was more than just happenstance or luck.
I have shared this method with some of my closest mom friends who have taken the same steps and have had great success as well. And with that said I have to confess that as I was anticipating potty training my fifth child, I was quite possibly more excited to officially document each of the steps of this last child’s experience as proof than I was eager to actually have him out of diapers!
Potty training can be daunting for most parents. And I truly do want to help other moms train their own children and not loathe this part of parenting. But as a secondary motive I also secretly wanted a tiny bit of validation from those who haven’t believed me. 🙂
So, we came up with a plan. The plan was to have my brother come into town, set up camera equipment around my house so that I could document every step of training day. I would then use that footage to create video and blog tutorials to help other moms who have a desire to learn this particular method of training.
Great plan right?!
Ya, I thought so too…until it didn’t work.
For months we kept stalling out because the schedules for my brother and me never could align. As the year went on he and I both continued to get busier and since we weren’t able to find a mutual time for filming I decided to forgo the filming plan and just go ahead and train my son anyway. Still, I had planned to take a ton of pics to be able to walk other moms through the process as best as I could on my own.
My fifth child, Crew, was almost three. He was more than ready. He is smart, obeys simple commands, is articulate, we have a great relationship, and he has the motor skills to be able to pull his own pants up and down on his own. All of the pieces were in place for this training to be a breeze.
This was MY fifth round of potty training too so I honestly expected it to have no glitches whatsoever. I didn’t even have to review the steps beforehand.
But…pride often comes before the fall right?
I can point to different choices I made during that potty training day that in hindsight should/could have been different, but the bottom line is that by the end of the day Crew learned very well to pee, but not to poop on the potty. We luckily “caught” him just before the act the very first time. And with that I chose to believe he understood and was aware of when to go poop on the potty.
We went to bed that night. I woke up the next morning with a plan to relax at home and simply reinforce the skills he learned the day before.
However, that is NOT what happened.
About mid-morning he was playing outside with his brother. He was happily riding his little bike when all of a sudden he stood up, right in the middle of the street (we live at the very end of a super slow cul-de-sac) and he screamed at the top of his lungs.
I ran over to him to see what had happened. Did his brother punch him? Did he get his toe run over with a bike wheel? Did he bonk his head? Did he trip and fall?
Nope. Nope. Nope. And nope.
He had pooed (and yes, my auto spell is telling me that is not even a real word but I don’t care) his pants.
Right there in the street. Pooed in his pants.
He had made absolutely no attempt whatsoever to get himself to the bathroom. He didn’t even call out to me that he had to go. It’s not like he just didn’t make it in time. He had not even tried!
I got him cleaned up but afterward I basically chose to excuse it and still considered him “trained” but with one major accident. Although I knew the first time he did poop on the potty was just a lucky catch I didn’t like the idea of having to re-train so I verbally went back through the appropriate steps to remind him how to be aware of the feeling of poop being different than the feeling of pee.
He responded well and seemed to “get it” and I thought after that we were done.
Yet the following day…
I glanced over at the exact moment to see his scrunched up, bright red, deer in the headlights face…it happened again.
I ran toward him yelling as loud as I could “Noooooooooooo, Crew!”
But it was too late.
And here is where I have to be brutally honest and open with you. I was mad! I mean really, really mad. Red hot mad. So VERY mad.
And he knew it.
He started crying.
I was yelling at him.
This was NOT how this training thing was supposed to go! Not only did this ruin his pants (AGAIN), and my morning, but my pride and now my track record! A lot had been at stake here!
In that moment, this was about ME, not him.
I so badly wanted to be able to share my “five” successful potty training stories…yet it was becoming more and more clear I was only going to have four success stories AND one total complete and utter failure story.
I took him inside and was visibly still super angry with him. My words were firm, sharp, unloving, selfish and far from encouraging. While cleaning him I made no attempts to console him as he continued crying.
After he was clean I moved quickly to put him down for his nap. I needed some time to deal with my own heart and anger.
He slept well but my mind was swirling. Do I need to start all over in the training? Was this a willful choice or simply an accident? Is this a discipline issue? Do I put him back in diapers? What did I do wrong? Why would he not even try? What do I do now?
A few hours went by and I couldn’t stand a moment longer of not talking with him. I chose to wake him up from his nap. As soon as we made eye contact I knew immediately that the events from the morning were fresh on his mind as well.
I picked him up and sat down with him on my lap in the rocking chair. I held him close. I whispered in his ear, “Crew, I am SO SO SO SO sorry for yelling at you. Mommy was not right at ALL to treat you that way. I wasn’t loving and I didn’t help you by being mad at you. Will you forgive me?”
I paused. And I waited.
Did he even understand me? Was he angry with me? Did he forgive me? Did he even remember?
I waited a bit longer…
And with the absolute, most precious, tender, sweetest little voice he said, “Mom, I’m SO sorry for pooping in my pants, will you forgive me?”
My heart absolutely melted.
All of this time I had thought that the method and the training day was most important…yet now it is glaringly obvious and is so tangibly clear that it is the relationship that is MOST important.
Yes, even on potty training day.
We sat there for about 20 more minutes talking about what had happened. I asked him to forgive me and he said he did. He repeated over and over again, “I go poo poo in my pants and that is yuuuucky! So big yucky!”
But toward the end of the talk there was another long pause. I could tell he was thinking about something so I just waited to see what he wanted to say.
Finally he spoke and he said ever so softly, “Momma, I scared go poo on the potty.”
Oh the sadness that came over me. In my heart I knew at that moment that I had completely missed him. It’s not that he didn’t know how. It’s not that he was stubbornly disobeying. It’s not that he wasn’t aware that he needed to go…he was afraid.
My throat tightened and my eyes watered up. I moved him toward me and looked straight in his eyes and said, “Oh Crew, Momma loves you SO, SO, SO much and I am here for you. I am going to be your best friend and I’ll be right by your side as you learn this. I know it’s scary and I know it’s hard but will you trust me and let me teach you and help you?”
And Crew, looking right back at me, said, “Okay mommy. I twust you.” And he hugged my neck as tight as he could.
Later that same night he had to poop again. This time he happened to be in the bath. He called out in a panicky voice and his face showed fear. Yet it also seemed like he was genuinely asking for help. He began to whimper and cry. As I got closer he pulled his hand up out of the water.
He was holding…you guessed it, a little nugget of poo.
He looked down at his hand and looked back at me and a look of terror came over him. I could feel the anger in me start to rise up again as I was faced with all of the same confusion and frustration from the past two mornings…but…instead of giving into it I paused…I looked directly at him and said as calmly as I could, “Crew, it’s okay. I’m your friend and I’m here to help you. Momma isn’t mad. I’m here to help. Let’s get out of the bath as quick as we can and get you on the potty before the rest comes out. Will you let me help you? I know you can do this the right way if you’ll trust me.”
Sure enough…his facial expressions and demeanor completely shifted. He let me hurry to help him get out and dry and up onto the potty seat. I sat right next to him and held onto both of his little hands. I looked straight into his eyes and told him that it was going to be okay and that this was the right place to go poo.
I told him I would not leave his side and continued to reassure him that everything was alright. I spoke with a low tone, almost whispering, not to cause any reason whatsoever for him to be any more alarmed than he already was.
He sat for a few more minutes and then began to whimper again. I could tell he was trying to figure out if he should keep holding back or trust me and relax. I continued to reassure and comfort, telling him repeatedly that he was safe and that I loved him.
And wouldn’t you know…the most amazing thing happened.
He pooped in the potty.
And who would have thought that my child pooping in the potty could not only bring tears to my eyes, but could birth such a unique bond between the two of us! He was so proud and so excited. He joyfully and excitedly ran throughout the house as he shared his big news with every other member of our family. And each time he told the story he said, “and mom hewpd me! Momma is my frwend!”
As a mother it is the greatest and most rewarding honor for me to get the front row seat in teaching my children new things. I get excited for their first smile, their first time clapping, their first steps. And potty training is no different. Potty training is, however, one of the most sensitive and intimate learning subjects in the life of a young child. Learning to handle their body. Learning what their body is capable of. Learning to guard and protect themselves and such private areas…these are all huge issues to such a young child. And to handle this issue with the utmost sensitivity, care and love is of greatest importance.
It is for those reasons that I’m crazy enough to say:
Potty training days have become some of my absolute favorite days as a mom.
If you’re heading into the stage of motherhood where you are soon to be potty training as well, then I would love to share the tips and tricks I’ve learned. But please, oh please, please know that the reason this method is golden has less to do with the method and steps and FAR more to do with the relationship.
So here is my HUGE disclaimer: I would strongly advise anyone who would desire to potty train in one day to first examine the relationship between parent and child before beginning training.
After years of experience, with four 1-day successes and one 3-day success…I offer three of my best tips BEFORE potty training should occur:
1. Moms: training actually begins with you.
Potty training our toddlers actually begins with our attitudes as mothers. I share that in order to help you, not discourage you. When we attempt to teach our children something new, but especially something as sensitive as toilet training, the magic keys to success are patience, love, and a whole lot of encouragement.
Throughout this style of training there is an element of firmness and the need to be clear and direct, but love, affection and compassion must always undergird everything you say and do.
Kindness and compassion trump.
This will be one of the earliest most significant things you will ever teach your child. Instead of dreading this day instead choose to look forward to watching them master a new major skill. The relationship between you and your child matters first: Never lose sight of your role to love and to uplift.
Caution: As a mother if you tend toward yelling, if you lean more toward being a discourager, if you struggle with being unkind to your children, if you mock or tease in a way that’s unloving, or if you’re highly distracted with your phone or with your work…this method will most likely not work for you at this present time. I would strongly encourage you to take a bit of time to make some adjustments to be able to win your child’s heart before you help your child win at potty training.
2. Obedience matters.
A huge part of this method coincides with a child being able to obey simple commands. If you are unable to give your child a basic set of instructions and see the child respond sufficiently (ex: please go into your room and get a book and bring it back to mommy), then most likely your child is either not yet old enough or not yet obedient enough for this method to be successful.
If you are the kind of parent that says a command to your child and the child does not respond or obey in a timely manner, most likely this method will not work for you at this time. Instead of pursuing potty training, begin instead working toward training in other areas. The goal is to be able to stay calm, give a simple instruction and have your child follow through. Read this article and also this one on how to go about beginning to train in other areas first to better prepare your child for such a big task like potty training.
3. Evaluate Age/Skill Level:
Age and skill level matters. My recommendation for boys is to wait until they are slightly older, as in closer to 2 1/2. Girls, on the other hand can be trained earlier, as in closer to 2. But not just age should be considered. The child needs to be able to pull their underwear up and their pants up and down on their own.
For example: In an ideal situation your child would be able to walk themselves to the restroom, use the potty and finish all of the steps without ever having to announce to you the need to go. But that isn’t always possible with kids that are trained very young. If you have only one child or if other children in the home are self sufficient, then this wouldn’t be a problem. However, if your children are as close together as mine, then you’re most likely nursing one and have another young toddler around that needs your care as well. For me it was worth waiting just a few months later to train so that I knew I wouldn’t have to rush out of feeding an infant to hurry my 2 year old to the potty.
Your child needs to be able to communicate the need to use the restroom OR be able to take themselves to the toilet independently (which involves taking their pants up/down, using a step stool and positioning themselves on the potty by themselves).
If these three things have been taken into consideration and are in order as best as you are able, then I commend you and would completely recommend continuing reading through the following steps to get ready for training day….
Click HERE for Part 2