I've had people all over the blog world and in real life ask me how it is we're going about potty training a 22 month old, so I thought I'd share our secrets.
**Full Disclosure...everything I'm doing, is because my mother has taught me these tricks. She's been in childcare since I was 4 (that's 23 years people) and NO ONE knows better than she does!**
**EVEN MORE Disclosure...some of this might be a little personal...if it's too much, deal with it or hit that cute little red "x" in the top right-hand corner!**
First, we knew Malachi was ready to start potty training because he would say "potty" or "poo poo" when he was going or soon thereafter. We had reinforced that in the months prior every time he poo pooed or pottied in his diaper. He was also interested in watching Thomas or I in the bathroom and we would continually reinforce "potty" every time there was an opportunity! It is VITAL that your child understand what you're talking about if you want to even THINK about potty training. If he/she is NOT grasping this concept, it's probably not time!
Second, NO PULL UPS. Pull ups feel just like diapers to toddlers trying to potty train. They can't tell the difference between a diaper and a pull-up just because one fastens on the side and one pulls up and down like big kid underwear/panties.
Third, when you start potty training, start with thick underwear/panties and rubber pants on top. This is to prevent potty going EVERYWHERE, but still allow them to feel like they're wearing something different than diapers. (We still do diapers at nap/nighttime, even though after 2 weeks, he's woken up dry the last 2 mornings!)
Fourth, when you're ready to start, you take the child every 15 minutes. Put them on the potty. With Malachi, we would put a little bit of toilet paper in between his legs so he wouldn't "shoot through" and tell him to make "lello" because Yellow is his favorite color. No, his potty isn't REALLY yellow, but it helped him with the visual. We learned quickly that Malachi wasn't completely emptying his bladder and that he would just go a little bit and then tell us he was finished. THEN, 5 minutes later he'd have an accident. So, every time he went for the first couple weeks, we told him to "finish" or "keep going!" He didn't get to get up until there were just drops. Yes, he fought, but he didn't win. Distraction is not an excuse for your child having an accident. NOT when you're spending time every 15 minutes taking him/her! (For example, just now, Malachi wanted his book and I told him he could have it when we got back...he cried for his book the whole time, but didn't get it back until he finished pottying!)
Fifthly, once your child goes on the potty the first time, make it a HUGE deal!!! Do a happy dance, give him/her a HUGE hug and kiss, play music, even give him/her an M&M or some sort of treat. (Whatever makes them tick...you know what that is better than I do!) They get the happy dance EVERY TIME they potty in the potty for a while. With Malachi, we did that CONSTANTLY for the first week. Then, Sunday, he TOLD us he needed to go poo poo in the potty for the first time and DID so we did a MAJOR happy dance at Buns Over Texas!!! (That's a local hamburger restaurant...fitting name for the occasion, don't you think?)
Sixth, once you KNOW your child understands how to "hold" their potty and will go on the potty for you, it's OKAY to tell them or show them you're disappointed when they have an accident. NO, I'm not talking about scolding (at first) - just tell them you're disappointed and shake your head. (It's ALL in the tone of voice!)
Seventh, KEEP THEM IN UNDIES as much as possible while potty training. I'll admit that on the last 2 Sundays, we've put Malachi in diapers because he was still learning and I didn't want to put that burden on the nursery workers in Sunday School and Children's Church. However, he ended up with a dry diaper and pottied a TON as soon as we picked him up, so I KNOW he can hold it. He's ready for underwear next week.
Eighth, it's ALL about consistency. Let EVERYONE keeping your child know that you'll be doing underwear/rubber pants and that diapers are off limits except for nap/night time. Even then, put a diaper on and THEN put underwear/rubber pants on so they still have the visual. This is VERY MUCH a psychological issue!
Ninth, this is NOT something that's going to happen overnight. I think we've had it relatively easy with Malachi. But, we're ALL on board and we're ALL following the same game plan from us, to Lolli and Pops (the grandparents) to Aunt Kelly and Uncle Daniel to his teachers at daycare, we're ALL on the same page! That's KEY! Everyone reacts the same when he goes tee tee in the potty and everyone reacts the same when he goes tee tee in his underwear.
Tenth, (although I'm SURE I'll be blasted about this from some people, I said at the beginning of this post that this is OUR way of potty training. So, it goes without saying that this is MY opinion. You don't like it, that's fine, you do it your way, I'll do it mine!) - I DO believe in waiting until your child is ready. I do NOT believe in being lazy and not giving your child accountability. Malachi will get scolded if he potties in his underwear at this point. He KNOWS how to hold it, he KNOWS how to tell us that he needs to go. Granted, there are times when he'll potty because he's playing outside or has an accident. That'll happen for a LONG time to come. However, we will express our disappointment in him when that happens. Kids need to learn there are consequences.
And, for a bonus, I'll add that we do not use a potty chair. Some do. We just found that he's going to be forced to potty on MANY different toilets if/when we're out in public (EWWW, I know, it's gross, just carry lots of hand sanitizer and germ-wipes!) - I don't want him to be scared of big potties. Again, that's just our choice and it's worked so far. We also have a stool for him to use that Lolli and Pops made him so his feet are touching something when he's pottying. You wouldn't want to hold yourself up by just your arms and not be able to touch your feet for extra stability!