Potty Training Update: Six Incredibly Important Lessons Learned

After two years of "gentle encouragement" my son wore his big boy pants to school today. (Of course, I packed a change of clothes right down to socks and shoes.) We've tried this before, and failed miserably, but after two weeks of no accidents in his pull-ups, it's time to big-boy-pant-it for good!

My friends, this road to big boy pants has been hard fought, filled with many wrong turns, dead ends and piss covered feet and floors; both mine and Ollie's. Thankfully, it led to the point we are at now; a nearly 100% potty trained three year old rocking spiderman big boy pants with pride.

As some of you already know, right before Ollie's first birthday, my Mother in-law dropped the bomb that FTD was out of diapers by his first birthday. (My theory was that since they lived high in the bush of Australia, FTD spent his days free-balling in the sun.) In honor of his miraculous potty-training, my MIL sent Ollie a potty training package for his first birthday, complete with big boy training pants and his favorite, Thomas the Tank briefs. Being that he couldn't talk or really understand what all of it was for, our first round of potty training at 12-months old was a total fail!

At 18-months we picked back up the potty training with good old fashion tactics, letting the kid watch daddy pee. This too failed to encourage him to give it a try. So, being that we'd been warned repeatedly not to push potty training too hard, or risk pushing him in the wrong direction, we let it go.

At 24-months, I was determined to get the job done!  I was determined to not have a child in diapers at two, plus my mother in-law was watching... I made it my job to train this kid! Unfortunately, the more I offered the potty, or let him wear big boy pants, the more accidents he had. Again being warned not to push or freak out, I smiled through cleaning up every accident. (While screaming F*ck This shit! in my head!)

The entire ride from 24-36 months was a battle of taking a few steps forward, then a few back. Somewhere along the way, I realized this was going to be 100% on his terms. Ollie was in complete control of potty training. I took a step back when he really began to regress and let him lead the way.  This was probably my smartest move since beginning potty training at one.

After many failed potty training attempts a home, a few trips to school in big boy pants that ended in diapers and tears, and me throwing my hands up, Ollie turned a corner. Like magic, after his third birthday, he started using the potty on his own 95% of the time.

Today, at three and two months, he pretty much always uses the potty. It's absolutely wonderful!  We still do pull-ups at night, but even then he wakes up and goes right to the potty. We also still use a pull-up when we run errands just in case.  Pee in the grocery is not awesome!

Along the way I learned Six incredibly important lessons:

1. Start as early as you want, but if your kid is not interested, there is nothing you can do about it. Pushing is a huge waste of time.

2. Potty training is not an event, it's a process. Potty training takes a long time, and potty training at night takes even longer.

3. It's just as hard on the parent. In my naive mom mind I thought Potty training would mean saying, Hey buddy, crap in the can. And that would be that. WRONG!  It takes just as much work and commitment from the parent as the child.

4. The potty training game changes when your child learns to take off and put on their clothes.  Ollie loves being able to go on his own without help getting undressed. I cannot recommend enough teaching your child to at least be able to take off their pants and pull-up/diaper while potty training.

5. The kid is the one who is in control. Potty training is so on a child's terms it's crazy.  You can't make them pee! So, I finally learned to stop trying, and only offer the potty before leaving the house and when out. The rest of the time, I let him decide.

6. Eventually, it happens and you are not a potty-training parent failure until that point. Being that potty training is on a child's terms, you can't beat yourself up for not meeting your own goals. Thankfully, they get as tired of peeing on themselves as you do cleaning them up.

Do you have any tips, lessons or stories to share???  Please do!

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com