Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Five Stages of Potty-Training


Well...I'm going to hesitantly just go ahead and say it.  I may have successfully potty-trained my fourth child.  Maybe. Potty-training is one of the few mothering tasks that doesn't phase me. Probably because I have spent plenty of time mucking stalls and ultrasounding cow ovaries (an endeavour that involves long gloves and is as gross as it sounds).  So..pee and poop do not bother me in the least. Toddler poop is nothing compared to dairy cow poop...or horse poop. Or worst of all...turkey poop. 

Accidents on the floor..no problem.  Having to wash tons of clothes..doesn't bother me (it's either that or washing tons of diapers).  

And, one thing I've noticed is that kids seem to go through these five stages of potty-training.  Maybe they go through them all in 3 days or 3 weeks or 3 months..but they go through them. Or at least...all my kids did.  

Knowing these stages can help parents prepare and know what to expect. Because no matter what the books promise, I really don't think that it happens all at once, all that often.




1. Potty...what's that?  I think I'll sit on this thing...or maybe stick it on my head, like a hat.

You show them a potty and they have no idea what to do.  Sure they can sit on it, but nothing comes out. 

2. Potty...I can sit on this thing.  When I sit on it, pee pee come out...most of the time. But, sometimes I refuse to sit on it, because that's fun too.



This is the second stage.  Once a child learns to pee on the potty, they can easily be "conditioned" to pee every time they are sat on it (assuming they didn't just go on the floor 30 seconds ago).  It becomes instinctive.  YOU try sitting on the toilet and not going.  I bet you can't do it. 

In my experience...this is also the LONGEST stage.  It can last weeks...or months.  With Elsa, I'd say that this stage lasted about 6 months.  But then I started her SUPER early (before 18 months even).   With my other kids (that I started a bit later) it was shorter...probably about 1-2 months. 

3. It's kinda nicer to go in the potty than in my diaper.  I think I'll hold it until mommy sticks me on the potty.   But if she waits too long...all bets are off.  I'll go in my diaper or on the floor or in my pants or anywhere.

This the stage at which I take away diapers and put my kids in underwear full-time (or at least daytime). Why?  In my experience..it doesn't take that long to go from this stage to the next stage.  Maybe just a week or two.   Plus, if they aren't wearing a diaper, I'm much more diligent about reminding them to go potty. 

4. Potty...when I gotta go...I'll let you (and everyone else around you) know.

This is when they initiate pottying on their own..and when I consider my kids to be fully potty-trained.

The younger three of my four children all reached this stage with poop before they reached it with pee.  It's easier to hold poop.  The first one (who I wanted until she was closer to 3 to train) went through a stage of poop-refusal on the potty. I don't even remember how we got past that, but somehow we did.  

And that is really the predominant reason why I decided to start potty-training much younger with the other ones. 


This is an ongoing stage.  As time goes on...the child gets better and better at recognizing cues and holding it until they reach the toilet. 

My kids all went through a stage where they would sorta pee a tiny bit on their clothes..and then hold it and finish peeing on the potty.   So, we always had spare clothes with us...but thankfully this stage tended to be short-lived.

5. I can stay dry all night long...no more diapers for me!

Two/four of my kids reached this stage very early..and were totally out of diapers by age 2.5.  The other two still needed diapers at night well into their childhood years. I'm not gonna say who is who.  So don't despair if your child still needs diapers at night for a LONG time, and don't be surprised if your child becomes dry at night very early.

Have you noticed these five stages with your kids?`Or was your experience totally different?

And, since potty-training is a favorite of nobody, I'm linking up with Jenna for Five Favorites. It's a stretch.  Feel free to kick me out, Jenna.  
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7 comments:

  1. THANK YOU!! I am trying to night-train one of my 3 and it feels like he just doesn't get it..he's a smart, well-adjusted, brilliantly funny, smart kid but he just WON'T stay dry at night. I'm beginning to realize, though, that this is just him and nothing I can do will change that!
    Thank you for reaffirming my belief that my son just isn't ready and that I need to calm the training anxieties in myself down.

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    1. I think nighttime bedwetting has a genetic componenet and that no matter what you do, some kids just won't stop until they are older. You really just need to wait for them to outgrow it.

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  2. Thanks for this post! We are in stage one. Sit on the potty forever nothing happens. Hopefully on to stage two soon! (the no diaper stages make me nervous though! ha ha )

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    1. ​One trick I used to do, is put the little potty in the tub and let them sit on it while running warm water over her legs and letting them play in the water (but they had to stay seated on the potty). Usually the warm water got them​ to pee and that helped teach them what to do. :) Also, putting them on first thing right in the morning or after nap helps, since they usually have to pee then.

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  3. I had a nighttime bedwetter, and I totally agree that there is a genetic component. I just waited and he out grew it.
    My experiences with potty training were very different. Two of my boys were trained in about the week, but one took a little longer. But all of my boys were over two years old, with two of them being right after their third birthday.

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  4. I haven't had the patience to potty-train at an early age, but I admit it does have a huge pay-off in less diapers! My older 4 all potty-trained shortly before their 3rd birthday. By that time, they had control of their functions and simply needed to be shown an alternative place to put it, so the process took about 48 hours.

    My two with developmental issues continued nighttime bedwetting well into elementary school years, however.

    I am considering doing a potty-training blitz with my 2 year old when my husband's home over Christmas break, since I know he can do it--it's just a matter of me deciding to make it a priority.

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  5. I think we're at stage 3.5 - convince your mom you're completely trained by staying dry and using the potty all day, and then regress completely after you've gone on vacation. Yup, I just gave up because it was too much work in the last months of pregnancy... As a bonus though, Mary Claire at least uses the potty for #2 almost every time, so there are fewer diapers to have to clean out!

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