Seven Days to Successful Toilet Learning
7 days. That is how long it took our daughter to learn the art of using the toilet.
Did we use candy? NOPE.
Consistency and Celebrations? YOU BET!
We owe the success of her toilet learning to her readiness and some good old fashioned consistency and dedication on our part.
I’ll be honest. We didn’t feel ready. We didn’t want to take on yet another task that needed constant support. The thought of more messes and even more laundry made me cringe at my core, BUT we did it anyway. We followed our child because SHE was ready and that meant more to us even if we weren’t and even if that meant more laundry.
It all started with the book “Toilet Learning” by Sarah Moudry. I read it a few months back to gain an understanding of what “readiness” meant and what to look for. One of my biggest aha moments was that I quickly learned that we were not going to “potty train” our daughter but yet we were going to let her experience “toilet learning.” This phrase, we soon found out was also commonly used in the toddler classroom at her Montessori school as well. We weren’t going to train our daughter, we were going to allow her to learn the process on her own. (with a little guidance from us along the way, of course!)
Was it perfect? NOPE. Were there accidents? ABSOLUTELY!
Let me share with you how we turned 7 days (that is just one week, my friends) into a toilet learning success!
Here is what worked best for us…
- She was ready. (Even though we were not.) We never said by the age of 2 she will be going to the bathroom by herself. We followed her as she grew interested when we went to the bathroom so, we bought her a child-sized potty. We never forced her or demanded. She started using it when she felt comfortable which many times was when we were modeling it ourselves.
- We established a routine. The first two days we would set a timer for every hour. (this was merely a reminder for us to ask her.) Honestly, she rarely went with the timer. We then set the routine that we tried after meals and additionally when mom or dad went themselves, she would receive an invite as well. This worked well for us. It became our routine and in seven days it became what we can accredit our success to.
- We gave choices. Simple- big potty or little potty? book or no book? we wipe or you wipe? we flush or you flush? All of it gave her the empowerment to own the process with us guiding her along the way but allowing her to make the decisions.
- We celebrated successes. Most often she would shout “I DID IT!” (and then my Montessori mama heart would explode…EVERY. TIME.) We often would give high fives and hugs until it became just another routine in our day and they became obsolete. However, if she was excited, so were we. Of course, there would come disappointments of near misses as well, we embraced them and explained to her that accidents happen and what to look/feel for so they don’t happen in the future. (yes, we truly did this with a two-year old-they understand more than we give them credit for, I promise!)
- We used books to initiate patience. In the beginning, it was a drop pants, sit down, and stand up routine. Nothing would happen but the steps were in place. In order to initiate patience of sitting, we introduced a book. Not a book about poop or the potty. Just a book that would hold her interest. (following the child’s interests, how Montessori, right???) We chose one about animals that could be manipulated with various flaps. This often held her interest in the beginning and is still the book you can find next to our potty for those rare circumstances when it is needed to help facilitate just a little bit more wait time. Ironically, it is also the only book we have ever had in the bathroom.
- We let her choose her underwear. Let me tell you, this may be the biggest nightmare of the whole process. My tip: DO LAUNDRY DAILY! The hunt for Elmo, Minnie Mouse or just the right colored purple underwear would sometimes consume our morning routines. They had to be just the right ones for that moment. Ultimately, it became her choice so that she felt that she owned the process.
So in 7 consistent days filled with dedication on our part, we did it! She did it! We celebrated her success with high fives and encouraging words but not once did she pop a skittle, M&M or sucker into her mouth our put a sticker on a chart for using the toilet. She was proud and so were we.
I encourage you to follow your child and create the best routine that works for you and your little one. I’ll be honest, I was amazed at how natural it has become for our family.
In just a few short weeks, we have been able to take car rides without accidents. She has grown to understand the concept of holding it until we can make it to a bathroom. Diapers have been eliminated completely from our daily lives however, we continue to use Pull-Ups at night because let’s be honest, mama doesn’t want to wash sheets and blankets should there be an accident.
Oh, and if you asked my daughter the best part of the whole process, it’s the foamy soap. Definitely the foamy soap.
Do you have a toilet learning success story or tip to share? I would love to hear from you!