Potty training and my go-to secret weapon
"Oh she will do it when she is ready!"
Said every parent of a toddler to this Mama who has an incredibly strong-willed 3 1/2-year-old daughter who refused to sit on the potty.
When Gwyn was 2 1/2 I could tell she was very capable of going to the potty (I may have tried to push it a bit knowing that her sister, Lila, pretty much potty trained herself by the time she was 2). She showed several signs; she woke up dry every morning, she had great bladder control and she could tell when she needed to go to the bathroom, but she absolutely refused to sit on the toilet.
I'm talking, kicked, screamed and cried anytime I mentioned the toilet or thought it would be a good idea to force her to just sit on it so she could see for herself that it was not scary...she loved her diapers.
So I took everyone's advice. I know not every child is potty trained by 2 1/2 and with everything we had going on while trying to build a house, sell a house and every other part of life in between, I did not want to push something with big transitions in the works. Also homeschooling. The thought of potty training while trying to homeschool sounded near impossible.
I chalked it up to the idea that diapers might be her comfort. Some kids like blankets and stuffed animals, my child likes her diapers.
My plan was to hold off and really dive into potty training once we moved into our new home. Truth be told, I was honestly procrastinating because I had not had a child that was this difficult to potty train and I did not feel like I had the capacity to take it on in this season of life.
As "plans" go, we thought we would be moved into our home much sooner in the year, but months and dates came and went. In April we got an email from our church saying that the kids will all get moved up to their new classes on May 27th and if they are not potty trained, they can not be moved up. Ahh! This was now the same weekend that we have definitely set to move into our new home.
So much for my plans right?!
The good news, was that I had pushed to get our school work done early so that was one thing off our plate and our co-op was done meeting for the school year so we did have a little more wiggle room. I really dreaded potty training this one.
I mean, how often do we naturally jump up and down at the thought of doing something that we know is going to be challenging?
So here is what I did to potty train my strong-willed 3 1/2-year-old.
1. I started with prayer.
I prayed (and asked several prayer warriors to pray along side of me) for God to give me wisdom on how to go about potty training. I prayed for Gwyn not to be anxious, and for ways that we could make potty training fun! I was out of ideas at this point, because I had tried everything in the books. Stickers, stories, every kind of potty chair in the store, candy and snack rewards, NOTHING was appealing to her. Prayer for potty training. God totally cares about those things. ;)
2. I gave myself several pep talks.
I had to mentally prepare and have a game plan so I stuck to it. I had to resolve to be determined and stronger willed than this little girl. She had to know that it was serious business and that I was not going to give in and let her wear diapers.
3. My go-to plan—the 3-day rule.
I honestly do not remember where I read about the 3-day rule when Jude was a baby, but it is the basic concept that if you are determined and consistent it will only take 3 days to train your child in anything you want to train him/her. Consistent is the keyword. After I posted something about this on IG I had several people tag me in articles that talked about this very same thing. It has worked wonders for us. We trained Jude to stay in his bed when he was little, we took away his pacifier when he was 2 1/2 using this concept (Parents- do not wait until your child is 2 1/2 to take away a pacifier! That was a big 1st child mistake we made.) We have used it on various other things for the girls and I am telling you it works every time. Basically, be prepared for 3 really hard days, knowing that the end result is well worth it!
So how did it go?
I hid all the diapers. When she woke up I explained to her what we were doing and as you can imagine, she threw a fit. You know, kind of like if someone told you that you could never see your best friend again. That kind of fit.
So when I laid out the 40 pair of panties we have saved and stored for her to chose one, she refused. She did not want anything to do with wearing panties, so we did without. Remember I already told you she knew when she needed to go, she had given this away a long time ago. The moment I let myself get distracted by making lunch, or cleaning up a mess or by taking a phone call, she took that as her cue to run and go to the bathroom in her pants. (She did not want to wear panties, but she wanted leggings or pajama pants on..kids are weird.) Not only did she purposely go to the bathroom when she thought she could get away with it, she even took a pen and drew on the walls. This was an all-out act of defiance. So, she was disciplined and I felt defeated. We had baseball practice that evening so I threw a pull up on her and shook my head wondering what I was going to do. (BIG mistake by the way. During the 3 day rule, stay committed. It is always best to really not leave the house for 3 days so you can be completely focused.)
When my mother in law messaged me to see how things were going she gave some great encouragement and then simply said, "You have to win!". That definitely resonated with me. Not because I am super competitive, but because my kids definitely get their strong will from one of us. ;)
Trying to get the pull up off in the morning was a battle. She wanted to hang on to that pull up with all her mite. That was when I knew I could not even allow pull-ups. Again, she refused to wear panties, so she just wore pants and a shirt. I got a message from our builder that he needed me to meet at the house to take a look at something for the carpenter. There was honestly never a good time in our schedule for us to just hunker down and not go anywhere for 3 days, so we worked with what we could manage. Thankfully my mother-in-law was home and could watch the kids for a few minutes while I ran to the new house. Gwyn did great and did not have any accidents, and she very reluctantly went pee on the potty at Grandma's house.
Later that day we had a surprise birthday party for my sister so this was definitely a day where we were on the go (no pun intended) more than I would have hoped. The party was 6:00 in the evening and Gwyn had only gone to the bathroom 1 time all day. She didn't have any accidents all day, so that was a step in the right direction and praiseworthy progress. Any time I asked her if she wanted to sit on the potty she would give me a quick "no" and run and play or do something else. I finally took her to the bathroom before we left and she sat on the toilet and cried and cried trying to hold it in. She did not want to go on the potty at all, for reasons I will never know. I started getting worried that she would give herself a bladder infection so like any good Mom would do... I threatened her that we would have to go to the doctor. (Please don't judge me. She likes the doctor, but she does not like shots so she immediately relates the two.) As soon as I explained that it would make her sick if she continued to hold in her potty and we would have to go to the doctor, she peed.
Gwyn woke up without having any accidents at night. She agreed to put on panties. She agreed to sit on the potty anytime I asked her without throwing a fit. She peed and pooped and we celebrated!! By the end of the day she would come up to me and say, "Mom, I want to sit on the pot!" And I would say, "Yes, ok, let's go!" to which she would reply, "No Mom, I'll do it by myself." She would go to the bathroom, wipe, flush the toilet and wash her hands.
It was a complete miracle!!
That was almost 2 weeks ago and she does not wear a pull up at night and has zero accidents! So guess what that means?
She probably could have done it a long time ago but she was the kind of child who was not going to potty train when she was ready. She needed to be pushed. She needed her Mom to take away her crutch and learn how to do something she was very capable of doing.
It reminds me of how God sometimes pushes us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes we kick and cry and throw a fit because it is something we do not feel prepared or equipped to do but thankfully, we have a loving Father who knows every part of our being and who pushes us to do what he knows we were created to do. I can think of so many things God has pushed me to do when I did not feel ready or adequate. Not because he wants to see us squirm, but because he loves us and wants the best for us!
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word."
— 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17
Potty training is for sure one of the daunting tasks of parenthood, but you can do it! Resolve to have focus and determination and once you get to the point of celebrating the success and you realize you do not have to buy another box of diapers, it feels SO good!!
Just as God constantly affirms that He is for us through spirit and in His word, let your child know that you are for them and cheering them on!
Have a great week friends!