Every dad understands the desire to start potty training your kid…
almost before you get home from the hospital. In fact I’m sure every parent understands. We have dreams of our child accomplishing great things. We ponder over what they will be as adults. We fantasize about their success. But that’s hard to think about when you’re elbow deep in a dirty diaper with a kid trying his level best to kick you in the crotch.
Right then you would settle for your child being able to take themselves to the bathroom BEFORE they have an accident, properly use the facilities and wash their hands WITH soap. The thought of my child being fully potty trained nearly brings a tear to my eye.
In vain you hope…
That one day your most basic and desired fantasy will come to fruition you decide that it’s time to potty train this kid. When he or she is a week old you come home to a scolding from your wife telling you that you can’t potty train a child that can’t even roll over. In shame you shelf the project with your hopes and dreams, and accept the years of shame that you will have to endure.
You suffer through the sickness, the constipation, the horror of your kid sticking their hands in the diaper. You cope with the diaper stuck to the wall and when they howl with laughter when it stays there.Then the dreaded back streak finally happens. All the diapers, the mishaps, the washing of hands, the gagging at smells only dead things should produce hasn’t prepared you for the diaper overflow.
You grab the child by the shoulders and run to the shower and hold them at arms length under the running water while they laugh. This is your breaking point. As tears (just me?) roll down your cheeks you vow that this toddler will not mock you for gagging. LET THE POTTY TRAINING BEGIN!
You bend down face to face with your opponent ask a simple question. “Need to poop?”
Where do you start?
This is a basic list of what you do and don’t need for potty training. I kept it simple because there’s not much your really have to buy to get started.
Look you’ve already been covered in more shit and piss in the past couple years than most sewer workers. If you want gloves to fish toys out of the toilet once you kid learns how much fun it is to watch his boat get caught in a whirlpool, that’s understandable. Otherwise skip it. There are no horrors here that you haven’t already seen.
This one is on most people’s list of what to buy and really has to do with preference and how available you are to potty train. If you’re anything like us I’m betting you’ll be there to help him up onto the toilet. We invested in one, but it didn’t get any real use until our work was done.
Just don’t. You wipe with paper, it will work on them. Plus they clog up sewer lines(Google “Fatbergs” and prepare to gag).
Potty calendar, potty toys, potty books, little gifts
Everyone with me now: its a kid. They don’t need ANY distractions when they’re using the restroom. Let me save you some money and mess that will remind you of the restroom in every B-horror-movie EVER! They are hard enough to keep focused on the task at hand. Don’t give them a reason to lose what little focus they do have.
Now to make some choices:
Pull ups vs Toddler Underwear
Okay in truth this one comes down to preference. What I have found personally in my experience is that they slow down the process. Your kid is used to diapers at this point. Getting wet or shitting themselves is not that big of a deal to them therefore the idea of using a different kind of diaper is not going to change that. Diligence and perseverance people. That’s the name of the game
Instead try toddler underwear. It’s a little thicker than normal underwear so they don’t leak everywhere if they do have an accident, AND as a bonus they KNOW without a doubt when they’ve used the restroom and learn very quickly how to tell if they’re about to. Also washable so save some money while your at it. Save money and finish potty training early? Win Win.
Kiddy Urinal vs Potty vs. Potty Seat
Our kid didn’t understand the urinal. When the time came for him to step up, he sat down. He thought it was a weird toilet. Aside from that if we were to teach him to use it we would still have to show him the toilet unless we wanted to fish shit out of a urinal.
He’s going to have to use the “big boy potty” one day, why wait? And why put yourself through the hell of having to clean a potty? You’re doing this so you don’t have to constantly play with poop, why make yourself continue to do it.
Instead try a potty seat that sits on top of the toilet. When they’re big enough just stop using it.
Time and Effort. Its an ancient tradition. Parents sacrifice their precious, precious time to teach their offspring how to behave in civilized society. It may not begin in the restroom but its a HUGE part of it. You’re going to spend time doing this. It’s going to be frustrating. There will be messes. The rewards will be worth it! Set your shoulders, gird up your loins and march! Freedom awaits – but with a price.
What’s the cost?
When you’re in the bathroom you have entered your fortress of solitude. Superdad needs to recharge without bickering children, nagging spouses or drunk friends. You sit on your throne and demand the world gives you peace – even if just for a few minutes.
But right now you’re potty training your toddler. Right now, Superdad, you have no rights, no power, no silence and absolutely no privacy. Suck it up buttercup, you’ll eventually be glad you did.
Even if your wife is taking full ownership of the potty training schedule you can jump in there and help. This is especially important if you’re teaching your young son.
Let me explain:
In life you’re going to teach your son many skills and lesson. You will be the man who leads him into adulthood by example. When all the yelling and screaming of his younger days are done he will either look to you as wise and learned in the ways of a man, or someone else if you can’t step up to the plate. This is a teaching experience for him, but a learning experience for you. This will be your first REAL test as a father. Your patience, your endurance, and, yes, even your sanity will be tested.
So open the door here dads. For a few months let the kid learn by your example in the restroom. Show him your Fortress of Solitude and teach him how he will sit the throne one day when he builds his own fortress.
You are now ready to relinquish full control of your throne. To allow your young son or daughter to sit in your stead while you’re off on hunts or conquering nearby lands. Congratulations, but first we need to discuss the process of educating the young prince or princess in the etiquette required for this particular court.
Let’s make sure you are ready, they are ready and we teach them properly.
Plan the approach
Anyone who’s ever planned an attack will tell you the approach can make or break it. Can you maintain the element of surprise? Or should you break your enemy with the horrifying sight of the onslaught about to overtake them? This war is no different. You have to plan your approach.
Our plan here is a simple one. To overcome the enemy (Diapers and shit laden hands) we need to simply make a schedule and adhere to it. If you cannot do this currently, this will be much more difficult. It will cause stress for you and the young one so consider if putting it off for a few weeks or even a couple months would get you in a better position to begin.
The schedule is pretty simple. You take them to the potty as soon as they wake up, before and after meals and nap and then right before bed. At bedtime you’ll still want them in a diaper for the time being.
Pretty basic really, but you’re going to be spending some quality time with the bathroom tiles, so be prepared. Also plan any trips accordingly. Just because you’re not at home doesn’t mean the kiddo doesn’t have to go.
Visualize and attack!
Okay jumping right in might not be the best course of action here. This is all new to them. Your child has seen you use the restroom, but they’re probably not expecting to have to do it themselves any time soon. So we start smallby introducing them to the toilet and making sure they’re comfortable.
Imagine you have a new machine at the office. This machine sucks down anything you put near it into an abyss that scientists cannot explain, but it certainly cuts down on waste. However, in order to use this machine to empty your trash can you have to stick your arm in it, but don’t worry, the boss says you’ll be fine! Sound good? Yeah it doesn’t to a toddler either.
The first step here is just sitting them on the toilet. Leave them fully clothed (they feel safer). If they start fighting, crying, screaming or in general throwing a tantrum abandon the quest. They are not ready. Revisit the idea in a few weeks to give them time to get used to it. Let them go to the bathroom with you and see you use the toilet. Talk to them about it while your in there and when you think they’re more comfortable try again.
Once they’re comfortable:
Repeat this process for at least a week, just to get them used to sitting on the toilet and a routine of when it will happen. Once you feel they’re comfortable it time to take this to the next level.
Once they are use to the toiled they can discover the hell that is sitting on that cold seat. They can discover how much worse a warm seat is later in life on their own time. Following the same process as before set them on the seat, but this time bare assed.
Again if they fight, scream, squeal, or otherwise throw some type of tantrum stop and return to the previous step for a couple of weeks to give them time to adjust.
Once they start sitting on the toilet without getting upset you need to continue the ritual for a couple weeks to let them completely adjust to the concept of sitting on the toilet with no pants.
Now it’s time for you to show them the ropes for potty training. While you’re getting them comfortable with using the toilet let them come with you when you go to the restroom. Talk to them. Tell them what you’re doing. No need to be explicit, just a general idea will work.
Let them see what happens when you flush. Let them flush the toilet. Laugh. Make exaggerated gestures. Show them there’s nothing to be afraid of and that this is normal and even fun. Don’t worry about lying to your children. For them, at least for a little while, it will be fun to use the restroom.
Is that really all?
You’ve got the child sitting on the toilet and enjoying themselves. Now to be consistent maintain the schedule you’ve been using and add in any time the say they have to go, or you have a suspicion they have to go. Ask if they have to go. Do not play around here. If they say pee you run like there’s a fire and you have the only source of water.
Gradually stop asking if they need to use the restroom. But keep a wary eye on them. If they make a mess you get to clean it up, Prince Charming. I’m sure your Cinderella will be glad to let you borrow the mop and bucket.
It’s been a long road and a hard fought battle to train your child to sit on the toilet when they needed to use the restroom, but you have emerged VICTORIOUS!
Hold on there, though, Sir Brags-a-lot. You’re forgetting that there’s another chapter to this horror story. The killer always has to come back. There has to be one last jump-scare for the audience.
Let me paint you a picture:
You put your little angel to bed and kiss their forehead. You smile to yourself as you leave thinking about how big they’ve gotten. You make your way to bed as well and you rest easier than you have in a long time knowing that from now on life is easier. The house is quiet. The moonlight trickles in between the curtains and cascades across the floor. Not a mote of dust disturbs the serenity, but still your eyes flutter open.
There’s something in the air that just doesn’t seem right. You listen intently for some minutes until you convince yourself its nothing and just before you roll over to drift off back to sleep you hear it. Faintly. Was that the creaky floorboard in the hall? No, it couldn’t have been, you’re psyching yourself out. You roll over and shut your eyes. Then you hear it. It’s undeniable. Someone just moved the bedroom doorknob. You sit bolt upright in bed staring into the blue-grey gloom of night that fills the room. The door creaks.
“No.” you whisper.
“Daaaaddyyy.” Comes the response.
“No, no, no!” you start repeating as you pull the blanket up around your neck.
“I had an accident.” A small, pale hand grips the inside of your door frame.
“NOOOOOOOO!” you scream, but it’s already too late. The beast has returned.
Back to reality now.
This is going to happen. You’re going to grab the kid, change them into dry clothes and put a diaper on them. You’ll tuck them into your bed and go gather the sheets and cover from theirs. Once everything is cleaned up you’ll head back to bed yourself and get back to sleep wondering where you went wrong.
The truth of it is that night training takes more time but will be much easier than day training. Your child can tell you when they need to go during the day but has not honed their skills enough to make it through the night.
But there’s good news:
The fix is simple. At night, before bed you’ll put a diaper on your kid and they will wear it all night. Over time they’ll get more and more used to using the toilet, until the urge to use the restroom either wakes them up or they learn to hold it all night. The litmus test here is dry diapers. Not one or two, but consistently waking your child up and finding a dry diaper.
It may take a week or a month, or maybe even longer. That’s up to the child and each one is different. The key to this final stage is, as it was in the previous posts: patience. Getting mad at your child will do no good. It will just stress you and the kid out before it’s all done and may even delay the process. Be patient. Give them your time and work with them. When the time comes you’ll finally get to hear your child say those magical, precious words: “I can wipe my own ass.”
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