My daughter is now 3. Is she fully potty trained? Well, yes kind of sort of, um I guess the right answer is no. She wears panties almost always, except if we’re traveling for long periods, at night to sleep, or during nap time. When I hear parents say that they potty trained their child in 2 days, I am baffled. In my head, being fully potty trained means that my child does not wear diapers, or pull-ups at all. Because this is such a huge part of toddlerhood, I wanted to ask my sister Dasy Perez (18 year experienced preschool teacher below with my daughter) for her advice on the matter.
Mi Legasi: Hi Dasy, thanks for offering your help. As you know, I started potty training Victoria when she was quite young and she responded very well. It’s been about 9 months since I wrote about it (link here) and I wanted to offer parents a follow up with some Q & A’s to help them on their potty training journey, because it is a journey!
Mi Legasi: As a preschool teacher, can you tell us what age should parents start potty training?
Dasy: Well, first of all it depends on the child. Every child is different. Some parents start before 2 and the majority start at 2.
Mi Legasi: How should a parent start?
Dasy: You can begin by reading them books about potty training, starting a routine at home, for example sitting them on the toilet or potty before bath time at night and when they get up in the morning.
Mi Legasi: Ok so if I sit them and they don’t pee, what do I do?
Dasy: Continue trying and be positive and praise them. “Oh, you did it, you sat on the potty. It’s ok, nothing happened, maybe we can try again later.” Don’t discourage them and don’t show disappointment.
Mi Legasi: When do I know that my child is not ready?
Dasy: When you try sitting them on the potty and they stand, or refuse to sit, or look at you with no interest after you’ve attempted for multiple days.
Mi Legasi: How long does it typically take to potty train a child?
Dasy: It varies, it can take a weekend, weeks, months, or even years. The key to successfully potty train is for parents to take the time and do the work, but also if the child goes to preschool that it is consistent between home and school.
Mi Legasi: Wow, a child can be potty trained in a weekend?! That seems crazy to me.
Dasy: Yes, I’ve seen and experienced it when the child is ready and the parent is in full control and devotes the time. I’ve also seen children that have taken 2 years to be potty trained, it can be the child’s personality, it can be that the child is not interested, or that the parent doesn’t take the proper time to devote to potty train.
Mi Legasi: Ok, so what are some things or tools that a parent can use to encourage their child?
Dasy: Books like A potty for me, Girls wear panties, The Potty Train, Where’s the Poop, and Everyone Poops are good. You can also do reward charts, much like your Mi Legasi reward charts or make your own. The key is to make it fun, be consistent, and rewarding for the child.
Mi Legasi: Is there a difference between potty training a boy versus potty training a girl, I mean they have penises?
Dasy: Through the years that I’ve done potty training, girls are faster getting potty trained than boys. For boys it is best when the dad shows them to stand for pee pee and sit for poo poo. If the mom is doing the potty training she models standing up.
Mi Legasi: I have a girl, so I don’t know about boys, but do you teach them to hold their penises?
Dasy: At the beginning if they learn by sitting, we teach teach them to push their penis down, if they learn by standing, at the beginning we simply tell them to stand forward. Eventually they will learn instinctively on their own.
Mi Legasi: When should I definitely not potty train my child?
Dasy: When you’re moving, there’s a baby on the way, or there are major changes in the home, like a parent traveling, family issues, the child has sleep issues, etc.
Mi Legasi: Victoria (my daughter) is 3 and she is potty trained except for overnight. When do I know that she will be ready to not use any pull ups at night?
Dasy: First of all make sure that they empty their bladder before they go to bed. For example, if they have milk or liquid at 7:00pm and they go to bed at 9:00pm have them go to the bathroom at 8:30pm. Make sure you give them enough time to fill up their bladder. If you do this consistently and they wake up dry then they are likely ready.
Mi Legasi: Is there anything that we missed or any other advice you have for us parents?
Dasy: Remember that children have setbacks, just because they may seem fully potty trained doesn’t mean that they won’t have accidents or regression, especially if any major change occurs in their lives. Also, remember that every child is different and what may work for one child may not work for another. As a parent you have to be ready and they have to be ready. Don’t be discouraged if you try and you’re unsuccessful just keep trying, but don’t give up.
Mi Legasi: Thank you sooo much. I know just like you helped me you will help a lot of parents with their potty training.
As a mom that potty trained over months and NOT a weekend, I can tell you that in fact potty training is a different experience for every parent and child and it can also be very frustrating. Don’t despair, they will get it eventually, and it doesn’t last forever, even though in the moment you may think it will never end, especially the endless laundry.
Do not compare your child to another child or yourself to another parent or you will drive yourself nuts. Instead, try different things, until you find something that your child responds to positively. In my case I created a potty training chart that worked wonders in the beginning. Also, accidents will happen, it's inevitable, always have an extra set of clothes, underwear and pull ups, and plan accordingly. If I know the bathroom situation will be tricky (like traveling or long car rides) I opt to put a pull up. I'm in the home stretch and when we're fully potty trained I'll let you know.
I hope this helps you on your poo poo & pee pee journey. Best of luck! ¡Buena Suerte!
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