some of my preparatory steps for the process and now I can let you know how it went for us and what I think worked best.
We set aside a weekend to start the process and ensured we had no plans and no place to be. Saturday morning, the big boy pants went on (our son was happy to wear them and picked out which pair to put on) and we started giving him lots to drink (water, juice, fruit smoothies and using straws and different cups to make them more appealing). He was dressed in easy, comfortable clothing - elasticated shorts and a short t-shirt that wouldn't get in the way.
It wasn't long before he started doing something in his pants and as we were keeping a vigilant eye, we were able to whisk him to the toilet to finish off. Rather than asking him every few minutes if he needed to go, the message we were repeating over and over was, 'remember to tell mummy or daddy when you need the toilet'. That way, he feels in control (which everything we read recommended) and by taking him to the toilet each time he starts to do something, he learns himself that going to the toilet is what needs to happen and at some point it clicks.
I'll be honest, the first couple of hours of that Saturday were tough and I told my husband that life would never be the same again and that we'd never be able to go out and do all the fun things we usually do. I was keen to persevere however and day 2 was a big improvement and we could see our son was getting to grips with it and making excellent progress.
In fact on the morning of day 2, my husband took him to a weekly football class so that was a big test. It was a good 20 minute walk there, a 45 minute class and then the walk home (of course there were toilets at the venue if needed). I knew my husband was dreading the scenario of our son having an accident in the middle of the class and having a puddle on the floor to deal with (it was an indoor football class) but we were adamant about not confusing him by putting a nappy on. I sent him off prepared with towel and spare clothes and it went perfectly fine.
During the first week, we had one really bad day but I kept up the encouragement and positivity and the next day was back to being accident-free and since then it has continued really well. Although I kept our first week fairly quiet with just the odd brief outing here and there, by the second week we were back to our usual busy routine and life got back to how it always was.
As an incentive, I designed a super-simple sticker chart. Each time he went to the toilet, he could get three stickers. One for telling me he needed to go, one for doing it all in the toilet (and keeping his big boy pants dry) and the third for helping pull up his shorts/trousers/pants and washing his hands. It worked well, he was excited to choose his stickers and fill up his chart. After a week of no accidents, he got a small present. We gradually phased out the sticker chart but we are still doing small presents as a reward for a week / two weeks of keeping his pants dry.
I don't want to be over-confident because we have testing times looming ahead, with the start of nursery next month and a new baby the following month. Both of these are common causes of set-backs but we will deal with them if and when they arise. The important thing is that our son understands and seems to enjoy the responsibility of using the toilet. We still use a nappy at night time (we call it a 'sleep nappy' now) but the night time nappies are getting drier and he tells us first thing in the morning when he needs the toilet, even before the nappy is taken off.
This has turned into a long post so I will conclude by leaving you with three factors that I think helped make our toilet training go smoothly:
- Waiting until our son was ready. He was 2 1/2 and I don't think he was ready much earlier than that. Being able to communicate with him about the process was an important part of making it work, which could prove more challenging with a younger child.
- Good preparation. Things like not referring to his dirty nappies as stinky and allowing him to look inside them might sound funny but I think they helped him feel comfortable with his own bodily functions. Also, talking to him in advance about using the toilet like a big boy got him used to the idea and interested in it too.
- Being consistent. There was a lot of repetition of 'remember to tell mummy or daddy when you need the toilet' and a lot of enthusiastic cheering when he used the toilet successfully. Even when the going gets tough, keeping up the positive attitude is vital to keep making progress.
If you have potty-trained your child, what techniques did you use and what part of the process was the most challenging and the easiest? Do share your experiences in the comments!