I remember the day I first heard the term “potty learning” as if it was yesterday. I was at a Little Sprouts class with my daughter and during one of the parent discussions I asked Susan how to potty train. Apparently this was a hot topic because most of the other moms nodded their heads enthusiastically while saying “Yes, I want to know about that too!” Susan kindly responded and said, “Sure we can talk about potty learning.” I thought “potty learning – what in the world does that mean?”
At the time, getting my daughter to use the potty seemed like a huge hurdle to overcome. She is an only child so I had no experience with this before, and therefore had no idea how to help her achieve this milestone. Being the Internet savvy mom I am, I had done a lot of research on the subject, all of which made me terrified. I had read about a three-day potty training method and heard from several moms that it was successful.
However, I dreaded the thought of it. Spending three days at home with my child and watching her like a hawk for any signs that she had to use the potty sounded dreadful to me, but I thought this was my only option. When I shared this with Susan, she gave me a great gift. She said “If that’s how you feel about it, then it isn’t the right choice for you.”
When I heard those words a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I thought, “So there must be another option.” I was so excited for her to share that option with me. I knew with all her experience she must have a tried and true method that was sure to be simple and stress free. I could tell all the other moms were anxiously awaiting her suggestions as well. That’s when Susan said “You don’t have to do anything, when they are ready, they are ready.” Her advice was to just let your child watch you use the potty and one day they will decide they want to use it. Which is why she calls it potty learning – they learn by watching you.
Looking back my first reaction makes me laugh. I thought “What? That’s it? That can’t be it. Will my child be five when she decides to do this?” But now, fast-forward a year and a half, I know it really is that simple, and actually for us it was kind of fun too.
My daughter didn’t learn to use the potty in a weekend; instead, it was a natural progression. She officially stopped wearing a diaper shortly after her second birthday.
We started the process a little before she turned two by putting the potty in our bathroom. She was in that phase when she wanted to copy everything that my husband and I were doing, so with her clothes on and off she pretended to use the potty. And magically one day she went in it. I was very excited and thought she would start using it regularly at that point. But I was wrong; we went awhile where she would just use it sporadically.
Then as the weather got warmer, I decided to let her play in the back yard and in the house without any bottoms. Yes, there were many accidents to clean up, but I really felt this helped my daughter learn when she was going to the bathroom. I thought having underwear on might help, but I quickly learned that they felt too much like a diaper. So, no bottoms were best. If we were inside the house when she had an accident, I sometimes said to her “Oh it looks like you needed to go potty, let’s go sit on the potty and see if there is any more.” I had moved the potty to the main room of the house so she could always see it, and at some point she decided to start using it on her own.
For about the first week or so that she used the potty on her own I did clap my hands, sing a song I made up and together we would do a little celebration dance. And once she got the idea that this was a fun thing to do, I phased that part out and we have never looked back. She still has accidents every once in awhile but I just keep a towel close by at home and a change of pants when we are out of the house. I never make her feel bad about an accident; I just clean it up and tell her sometimes accidents happen.
Today we are mostly accident free and I can look back now and think why was I so worried. Potty learning really isn’t hard, because as Susan said, when they are ready, they are ready.
Posted by A Sunflower Mom. Do you have a question for Susan or a parenting story to share?
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© Sunflower Creative Arts, 2014
Photo © Haidor Truu and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2014