Potty Training Pointers?

I need some help ya'll. I am trying to decide if J is ready for potty training. She will be 3 years old in June and it seems like that is the 'right' age for ditching diapers. I keep hearing conflicting advice though. Everyone I talk to agrees that you should never force the issue, which I definitely support. However, what do you do with a toddler who meets all the criteria, but is terrified of the toilet?

According to a bunch of different articles I've read, J is ready to use the potty - she stays dry for several hours, she verbalizes her need to go potty, she is interested in other people's bathroom habits, she can pull her pants down and get on the potty all by herself, and she's good at following directions. Still, she refuses to sit on the potty without her diaper. She seems afraid. She says, "I don't like it." Does that mean she's not ready yet? I have an empty chart taped next to the toilet. I've tried to lure her with stickers, prizes, more Play-Doh, but she doesn't care. I've even started giving myself stickers for going to the bathroom. She likes to watch me pee (I know, I know) and I try to act all excited that I did it "all by myself," and that I wear "big girl" underwear, but still no desire. I can leave her in underwear all day and when she has to pee, she will run over to me with a diaper and say, "Mommy, I need a diaper." If I put it on, she will pee and tell me all about it. She even tells me when she's pooping.

Her OT thinks she's definitely ready, cognitively speaking. My mother, on the other hand, is telling me to back off. I can wait until she turns 3 and start again in the summertime, but I'm nervous. I can't believe this is giving me so much anxiety. I know she'll get it, but maybe it's because of her eating issues. I feel like I failed at that and I don't want to fail at this or screw it up.

Do you guys have any advice? What worked (or didn't) for you?


Sandra said...

Stacy, with my daughter, she had all the signs of being ready, so I went ahead and tried it. First thing I did was take her shopping and let her pick out her own "big girl" underwear. I put her in the underwear and literally took her the potty every 30 minutes. She had like 4 accidents the first day, and then may one the next, but that was it, after two weeks, she was completely potty trained.
Now with my son, he just turned 3 and I'm having problems LOL He does so good one day and then the next day he flat out refuses to put his "big boy" underwear on and will scream and throw a fit until he gets a diaper back. Girls are definitely MUCH easier to potty train than boys. :)

Stephanie said...

When my daughter was ready I took her out of her diaper and into underwear and NEVER put her diaper back on. I used one of those plastic pottys, put it in the family room and asked her to sit on it every 20 minutes or so. There were a few accidents, but in a matter of days she was fully potty trained.
On a side note, she wore a diaper at night for a few weeks and then one night she woke up having to pee, and she has never been in one at night since.
I think they like the feeling of underwear instead of a bulky diaper if they get used to it first.
Good luck!

sunshine scribe said...

Oh this can be stressful. I am so impressed by going all the way to giving yourself stickers. I hadn't thought of that one - made me smile!

I hear girls and boys are pretty different for potty training but for my son there were a few things that helped:
- we read some story books about going potty
- he saw some kids at school his age going potty and wanted to be like them (not me. them)
- we tried a few different potties - one small one on the floor, one seat that fit on our toilet to hold his bum, etc until we found one that he felt safe with

The bribes and rewards didn't work for us either. I stressed about it for a while and then I backed off and tried a month later and he was ready. Every kid is different - all my friends children trained at totally different times.

Good luck!

Denise said...

I didn't really do anything. When I thought the twins were about the right age and showing signs of readiness, I simply took them to Target and let them pick out their potties and some big kid pants.

We took the stuff home and I put their potties in the bathroom and their underpants in the drawer with the diapers.

Since they ALWAYS followed me to the bathroom, they eventually started copying me. Since I drink so much caffeine, I'm always peeing...so they went pretty often, too. (I know...TMI)

They started playing with their big kid underpants soon after that and once one decided they wanted to wear them, the other one followed.

They only had a few accidents.

BUT...terrified of the toilet? Maybe she doesn't like the cold hard feel of the seat...maybe warm it with your blowdryer for just a few seconds?

Nicole said...

I was lucky and my daughter basically potty-trained herself. But, I had a potty I kept right in the family room. Maybe let her pick out her own potty, decorate it like a princess potty and keep it where she plays. Maybe she'll play on it for awhile and get used to it.

Good luck!

rhonda said...

Oh potty training...not my favorite thing I must admit.

Summertime is the perfect time to try. Benny didn't finish up his training til he was 4, and it was tough.

Girls are easier than boys, I have found. I bought the potty that plays music when they go, and they both LOVED it. Rewards work for sure!

Good luck :)

JayMonster said...

The "fear" is quite normal.

She's ready.

Juliabohemian said...

I am in the same boat as you. My 3 yr old has been "ready" for some time now. I finally have her wearing underpants at home. But, she will only use HER potty and is afraid to sit up on a regular sized toilet. She also won't poop in the potty. Yesterday, I caught her taking off her underwear and putting on a pull-up, just so she could poop in it. One day at a time I guess.

Kristen said...

Can't help you out, but the comments are great. I'm taking note...

Meg said...

Well I haven't had to go down this joyous road yet, but I've seen a similar thing happen with my niece. Have you tried her very own potty chair? If it's smaller than the normal one, it might not be as intimidating. But you are so right in not pushing things. She will go when she is ready.

Good luck and lets me know what works so I can store it in my memory file for later...

Piece of Work said...

Wow, that's a tough one, and I can understand how you'd wonder if it's related to her feeding issues. What if you tried "running out" of diapers, so if she's in underwear all day, she'd have to either go in the underwear or go on the potty? A friend did that with her son--she told him they were out of diapers and since it was raining they couldn't go to the store to buy more, and that worked. My son was never afraid of the potty, but he was afraid to poop in it. I kept him in underwear all day and he eventually pooped in the underwear--he HATED the sensation of that so two days later he got over his fear of pooping in the potty.
Rewards worked well for us--but only the candy kind. IN the beginning I'd give him an m&m if he peed on the potty, and I promised him a lollipop if he pooped. Other rewards I tried--stickers, etc.--had no effect at all.
I'm sure you're doing this already, but if you can get her to sit down on the potty without her diaper, make a big deal of it, with lots of praise, etc, even if she doesn't pee.

Good luck!

Pattie said...

It sounds like she is ready to me. I hear that it is not uncommon for kids to fear the toilet. Maybe it's big, or cold, or loud...My middle child didn't like the toilet either. So, I took her out and let her pick out a small potty seat and her own underwear. It worked like a charm. Good luck!

Mommy off the Record said...

My son is only 10 months old so unfortunately I have no advice, but wish you the best of luck. I can't WAIT until I don't have diapers to change anymore!

something blue said...

I need all this advice too. My daughter will be 3 just before yours. I've kind of implied that she is already potty trained to her daycare as she will be returning in June. Now the heat is on for me.

I would like to put her on the potty every hour on the hour but she has a stubborn, independent side and insists that she do EVERYTHING herself! Getting her to get herself on the potty takes 45 minutes. We'll be spending entire days doing nothing else.

chichimama said...

A) wait until summer if she isn't begging for it. Much easier.

B) You have to pull the diapers. Let her pick out her own panties and then she wears them except when she is sleeping.

c) try getting one of those squishy potty seats, they make a sesame and dora one I hink. That made a huge difference for my son.

d) good luck!!!!

Nancy said...

Others have made some of the comments I would have. We actually didn't have to do much, since day care really got her motivated (seeing the other kids and using the tiny, real flush toilets.)

I agree, if you can get a small standalone potty seat, sometimes that helps (it's more her size.) At the beginning, you can just have her sit on it when you're going yourself -- don't necessarily encourage her to go, but just to become familiar with the concept. When she's acting more interested, making a big production over the "big girl" panties really helps. Mimi picked out Dora panties that she loved, and she didn't want to soil them.

Good luck!

dollyllama said...

Oh man, this was a tough one in our house. Anna would hold her poop in for days until it was all compacted and hurt to come out. (so she wasn't afraid of the potty, but WAS afraid of pooping). So for about two years (TWO YEARS) she'd do these tiny, tiny poops in a diaper, about one every hour. As you can imagine, she got horrible diaper rashes. They pee-trained her at school (this was easy if you can imagine the group mentality of a herd of 2-year-olds getting in line for the potty) but poop has been an issue for ever. There was no easy answer, either. It got the point (remember, TWO YEARS) where I would get so frustrated after she'd pooped for the 15th time that day that I would really not be able to stop myself from voicing the frustration to her. I felt bad, but it totally sucked. And then we'd get her to poop on the potty one day but it'd hurt so much that she wouldn't do it again. I kept thinking we'd conquered it, but we hadn't. Finally (oh yeah, mother of the year award here), I did start forcing the issue. Hubby was totally upset with me but I'd had enough. So if I could tell she was going to poop (hiding in the closet), I'd run and get her and hold her on the toilet. Yes, she screamed, yes, she cried, yes she fought me. Yes, I'm a horrible mom. I hugged her and talked quietly in her ear while she cried, I held her and told her I was sorry it hurt. And she screamed. And one day she had held it in so long that pooping was like giving birth for her. (TMI? But I want you to know not everyone has it as easy as some of these commenters!). She really grunted and shrieked and cried and really sounded like she was giving birth (oh happy day, we were at my friend's house...that was a great moment in my life...ha ha). This went on for MONTHS. She'd wear underwear all day at school and then come home and put on a diaper (yes, on herself) and commence the poop-once-an-hour thing. So I forced it for a while, then felt bad (especially when hubby was telling me what an awful person I was), and stopped holding her there for a few weeks, and then I'd try again, and again she'd scream and cry and it'd be horrible, and I'd lay off for a few weeks...the pediatrician wanted me to increase her fiber intake, hubby wanted me to leave her alone (yeah, because he wasn't changing the diapers or dealing with the rash, so it was no skin off his back), my dad wanted me to force metamucil and mineral oil down her throat. Nothing helped because it wasn't a digestive thing, it was a mental thing. And then one day, after months and MONTHS, I saw she was going to poop, so I grabbed her and we ran to the bathroom and I put her on the toilet and held her there and she screamed and cried and the whole bit, but I realized she wasn't fighting me to get off the toilet. She was screaming and yelling and hitting me, but not fighting to get off (previously I had literally physically held her there). I thought this was probably a good sign. So I kept it up. Day after day, I'd watch her like a hawk and then grab her and tear into the bathroom with her when the poop was about to come. It was horrible. But if I could get her to poop on the potty, no matter how awful the experience was, then I wouldnt' have to deal with the tiny poops for the next 24 hours or so, so it totally motivated me. And yes, we tried the M&Ms and we tried the "potty bag" which was filled with tiny prizes, but she really wasn't motivated by prizes. I even upped the anty by putting dresses in the potty bag (her favorite! But a very expensive way to go) and I'd show them to her when I bought them and told her what they were for but she was not motivated by ANYTHING. And so that was why I forced the issue. And I'm not proud of it but it worked. And hubby shut up pretty fast when it started working. And now she tells us when she poops (she doesn't want me in there anymore, unless it hurts, and then I come hug her like I used to) but we go in and cheer after she's done.

Oh--the only thing that worked with pee was to make it a race. I'd say, "I have to pee. I'm going to get to the potty first!!" and then we'd race to the potty and she'd win.

If you potty train in the summer, you can get those special padded underwears (they're just double-lined cotton or whatever) and keep her outside so you don't ruin your carpet. But seriously, good luck, and it's going to suck for a while and then one day the sun will shine through the clouds.

rachel said...

I am very late to the comment party here, but I just wanted to address the fear of potty thing. My son is exactly the same age (he'll be three in june), and he's had spates of being afraid of the potty. The way we got over that was to talk about it in detail, and we had to have this discussion several times: only poop, pee, water, and TP fit down the drain. You don't fit. Mommy doesn't fit. Everyone else he can think of to ask about doesn't fit. And if you DO fall in, Mommy will get you out. Mommy will keep you safe. Etc etc.

I still sometimes have to reassure him that he's safe, especially if he's pooping, but for the most part it's him saying "I not fit down drain!"

One last caveat, however: I think the child's interest is the very most important sign of readiness. My son had almost NOTHING on the list, except a burning desire to try it. He learned to pull down his pants and hold it longer than an hour AFTER we got started. So if she's really not interested, I don't think there's any way to make her do it. But address the fear first, and maybe the interest will follow.