Real Life Potty Training STories

About This Series

This is the ninth installment in our series of real-life stories about how real parents helped their children move from diapers to potty trained. We created it in recognition of the fact that all kids are unique and that no two potty training journeys are exactly the same. There truly is no better way to grasp what needs to be done (and to motivate yourself) than learning how other parents tackled this major milestone!

Introducing Kate

Our ninth story is from Kate. Let's find out how she potty trained her two sons, William and Owen!

Question #1 - Please Tell Us About Yourself and Your Family!?

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Hi! My name is Kate, professional napper and lover of wine turned mama to two, soon to be three, tiny humans! My husband and I met at Penn State where we also had our dream winter wedding. We currently live in New Jersey, halfway between Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Health, Human Development and Family studies and put my skills to use as the Director of Education at the leading premier private preschool in our region. However, don’t let my professional background fool you—parenting is an entirely different ball game and I frequently find myself lost. Last fall I ran my first (hopefully first of many) half marathons and fell passionately in love with running. Additionally, I am a freelance writer and books are my long-lost best friends. The babies came, and the books started collecting dust, but I still get lost in my writing. Finally, we are pumped to welcome our third, surprise-gender, baby to the family this December!

Question #2 - When Did You Start Potty Training?

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Both William (soon to be five) and Ownen (now three) started potty training right around 24 months of age. Coming from the early education world, I wrongly assumed that I had it all figured out. However, once the adventure of potty training was bestowed upon us, I quickly realized that there is no rhyme, reason, method or book that fits all. Each kid is truly different. With that said, I really let my sons guide the process. When they started showing interest in the potty, I let them lead the way. The first thing I did after they expressed interest was to let them try going potty right before putting them in the bathtub. Being that they are boys, they ALWAYS seemed to pee right when I put them in the bath. With that being a consistent shenanigan, I figured it would be a good time to give it a try and it worked!

Question #3 - What Helped You The Most?

Hands down, my mama! I am an only child and girl, but she was still super knowledgeable, supportive, and reassuring when I was going through the process with my two boys. The most important advice that she gave me was to remain consistent and have patience. The adage rings true, “mama knows best.”

Question #4 - How Long Did It Take to Click?

The definition of click most likely varies from parent to parent. For me, it meant significantly limited accidents, and consistently using the potty. I would say things began to click for both of my boys quickly. Within a week of very diligent and consistent potty focus, we were well on our way to being fully trained and were comfortable with less reminders and more self-driven pottying.

Question #5 - When Were You Really Confident They Were Trained?

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Ooo this is a great question! If you see my answer to Question #7, you’ll see that I’m a believer in trusting your kids. It is our parenting nerves rather than their potty abilities that cause us to pause. With that said, I found myself confident and trusting them pretty early in the game—I'd say after about two weeks. "Accidents happen" (and did occasionally happen for us after that two weeks), still keeping that in mind I was able to trust my kids and have grace as they continued learning.

Question #6 - How Did You Tackle Poop?

Fortunately, my sons both had rather regular bowels! This made it a bit simpler as I understand this area can be a problem for a lot of "potty learners." When I knew they were due for a doo doo (see what I did there lol) I had them sit and try. I didn’t make it a big thing when they were trying but really pulled out my inner actress when they’d done the deed, going above and beyond with praise. I also let them run around naked for the first few days of potty training. While this did result in a few poops on the floor, it was easy to quickly pick them up and move them to the potty mid-poop. Limiting the poop potty pressure and just letting it happen worked well in our house.

Question #7 - What About Training Outside Your Home?

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Kids are really great at rising to the occasion and meeting the expectations that we set for them. As parents, we don’t give them enough credit and so often it is our nerves that put the public potty pressure on them. We fear a public accident and take all these added, and usually unnecessary precautions to avoid the hassle. I just decided to chance it. We started small, I had them try potty before we left the house, and we went about our outing. To my pleasant surprise, we were accident free. The errands slowly increased as my confidence grew.

Question #8 - How About Nighttime Training?

Ugh, so daytime potty training in my house was fairly painless. However, nighttime training has been a different story. Ironically enough, my younger son (he is three) and my older son (soon to be five) were both “night-trained” at about the same time. Still, my older son has far more frequent night accidents than my younger son. With that said, I firmly believe this is very child specific—I don’t think there are any tips or tricks to get your kid to stay dry through the night. My husband and I will even wake him before we head to bed to have him go potty and sometimes he stills has nighttime accidents. We’ve also tried limiting his drinks closer to bed time. I suppose he will grow out of it eventually, and if not, I won’t have to worry about girls when he goes to college ha!

Question #9 - Any Potty Training Hacks You Can Share?

Yes! I love a good parenting-hack! A few things that I swear by when it comes to potty training. First, use a timer! Set it for 15 minutes and then slowly start to increase the time. Don’t pose a question “do you have to go potty?” but instead, when the timer goes off make a statement “it is time to try potty.” Personally, I’m also a fan of good old bribery. Get a jar of M & M’s and start out giving one for each attempt, then graduate to each time they go, and finally you can dish out the candy for a "number two" on the potty.

Question #10 - Any Last Words For Parents Just About To Embark On Their Potty Training Journey?  

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Keep reminding yourself that every kid is different. There are no right or wrong answers to the process, unless of course you’re shaming your child, which is a big no-no. There is no denying that it can be frustrating for everyone involved but remember that when it come to toddlers it is our job to share our calm, not join in their chaos. Be supportive, understanding and consistent.

More Interesting Reads

smiling toddler showing diaper bum happy

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The seventh installment in our series. See how this fitness coach embarked on her daughter's potty training journey at 13 months old!

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The eighth installment in our series. See how this mom blogger is potty training her son at his own pace using the 'gradual parent-led' method.

toddler sitting on potty chair

Real Potty Training Story No. 10

The tenth installment in our new series. See how this expecting mom potty trained her son while on bedrest, doctor's orders!