Potty Training…those two little words can strike fear in the heart of parents everywhere! But not me! I had been a preschool teacher for five years. I had potty trained close to 100 toddlers, and I knew EXACTLY what I doing! (Please tell me you can hear the sarcasm here!). But I really did think I would have it easy sailing with my munchkin when the time came to potty train. And then the time came, or so his school said. But he was NOT interested. AT ALL!
So now what the heck do I do? The school suggested that since he was so smart, it was really just his strong willed attitude choosing not to potty train. They suggested I just go cold turkey and stick him in underwear one day. But I knew that would not go over well with him, and I was not about to have a war on my hands just because the school thought he should be potty trained already. (Let’s be honest, I thought he should be potty trained already too, but I also know how headstrong he can be.) So we waited, and talked about it, and waited, and talked about it, and waited, and talked about it with him some more.
We were told he would not be allowed to move up to the 3-year-old class in August if he wasn’t potty trained. He would be “left behind with all the younger children” in his previous class. Well that didn’t sit well with me at all, but I did understand the licensing requirements, and since there was no changing table in the 3-year-old room, they couldn’t have children in diapers in there. But I had also done enough research to understand the damage that can be done by forcing a child to potty train before they are ready (whether you think they are truly not ready, or if you think they are just being a pain in the butt!).
*Click here and here for more information about the consequences of forcing a child to potty train.*
I wasn’t about to force my son to potty train if he didn’t want to. But HOW THE HECK could I gently convince this stubborn, strong-willed, headstrong child, (who is JUST like his mama) to potty train when he didn’t want to?! We talked about it some more. We went and picked out these super cool underwear (20 pair!!), plus several pair of extra shorts for accidents. We talked about how it was ok if he had accidents. We talked about how much fun his new class would be. We finally were able to set a date, and he agreed that he would start wearing underwear to school, on a Monday, two weeks before the new school year began. And then the day came. And he did NOT want to put those underwear on!!
As devastated as I was at his refusal, I would not force him into those underwear against his will. So he went to school in a diaper. And then we repeated the same process the following day. Talking it up, trying to get the underwear on, and more refusal. Thankfully that evening when I picked him up from school, I saw another mother talking with her son about his accident (not shaming, just acknowledging that it happened), and I mentioned that we were having trouble getting him to put his underwear on. I will never forget the next two words out of her mouth. “HOTWHEELS” she said. Wait, what?? I told her she was a genius, because my boy loves him some Hotwheels cars! So that night we created a reward system. Every day that he wore underwear to school, and kept them on all day, he could pick out a car from our new treasure basket. We were very clear that the reward was for wearing the underwear, not for staying dry all day. (Baby steps, right?) My munchkin was onboard, but I was still nervous.
The next morning came, and I reminded him about his reward. Without ANY hesitation, he went to the bathroom, went potty, and let me put the underwear on him!!! I was THRILLED! But of course I was still a little nervous that he would get upset at school and want to take them off. Much to my relief, he came home in underwear, and only had 2 accidents his first day! I was such a proud mama that day, and he was so proud of himself too. We kept up the reward system for a few weeks, until he started to forget about getting a car every day. We now have WAY too many Hotwheels cars, but I can live with that because I don’t have to buy diapers anymore!!
Did you struggle with potty training your kid(s) or was it easy? I’d love to know what worked for you, just leave me a comment below!