Are you like me? Have you suddenly found yourself reaching the end of your cloth diaper journey with your child? Have you gotten to this crossroads where diapers meet underwear and you’re not sure what to do? I have to confess that this is the one thing about parenting that has terrified me since I was a little kid. How on earth do you teach a child how to use the potty? I mean, I helped my parents with all my siblings (4 of 6, that is) and I was an old pro at the mother thing when my daughter came along, and yet, the potty training years loomed ahead of me like Judgement Day and I was terrified.But I’m finding that it’s not that awful. It’s difficult at times, but not impossible. And, believe it or not, there are days where it’s actually FUN! Yes, fun. As I’ve been figuring out this new stage, I’ve found a couple of things that you MUST HAVE when potty training, and some other things that aren’t a necessity, but they certainly make things nice! Let’s start with the intangibles:
My suggestions on what you should have:
- Clear expectations. We have clear expectations that our daughter is well aware of—You don’t put your poopies or pee pees on the floor or in your underwear. You put them in the potty. We reiterate them over and over again. We repeat them when she does what she shouldn’t, and repeat them again when she does what she should. It’s to the point that our daughter beats us to the punch line and just tells us the rules as soon as we put a pair of underwear on!
- Clear consequences. There are consequences for both negative and positive behavior. Here are the consequences we enforce for our daughter:
- Putting pee pees or poopies on the floor or in the potty means that you will have to help Mommy and Daddy clean up the mess, you won’t get to wear your new big girl underwear, and you might get time out.
- Putting pee pees and poopies in the potty means that you will get a couple of chocolate chips, you can also have a sticker if you want it, and you get to continue to wear your big girl panties.
Then, of course, there are the material necessities, and the material niceties. There are some things that you obviously need to make potty training successful.
- Reassurance. Finally, we feel it is very important that our daughter knows that no matter how long it takes and no matter how many accidents she has, we love her unconditionally. When she makes mistakes, we make it clear that there are negative consequences that naturally follow, but this is always followed by lots of hugs, kisses, and continuous expression of our faith in her. We are tough but toughness is coupled with copious amounts of love. We want to instill that our arms are always here for her even if she does the wrong thing.
- You definitely need a child potty. You can get a little potty to put on the floor, or a child’s potty seat that fits to your toilet. If you go with the latter, a step stool might also be necessary. It’s not that you can’t get by with just the adult potty and a pair of strong arms to support the little one who’s sitting on it, but this doesn’t promote independent potty usage well when an adult is necessary for every trip to use the bathroom.
- I feel that training pants or underwear are a must. Diapers definitely must go so that the child can gain the independence necessary to take the training pants on and off when he or she needs to make a trip to the potty—though I’ve found that some cloth diapers can be worn loosely at the waist making them easy to pull on and off like underwear. Rump-a-rooz work well this way. You may find, as we have, that naked time is very helpful in the potty training process, but eventually, underwear must follow.
The next list of things I have for you aren’t really necessities, though they sometimes feel as such in my house. They are niceties. They definitely can make the potty learning experience easier on every one, but it can also be done successfully without them.
- I also feel that a reward is a really wonderful motivation for potty training. In fact, I feel it’s almost imperative to have one—at least to get the ball rolling. Whether it’s something tangible like stickers or chocolate, or something intangible like some time with finger paints, or a special story on Mommy’s lap, kids need something to motivate them to leave the safety net of diapers.
So have any of you started potty training? What are your “must haves?” when it comes to motivating your little one to do the “doo” like a big boy/girl? What are things that help you but you feel you can also do without? Please do tell. I’m still learning this whole thing and as much advice as I can get would be infinitely helpful!
- Elmo’s Potty Time has been a VERY wonderful learning tool when it comes to potty training. I know that there are other potty training DVDs out there as well, but Elmo is who we turn to in our household. He’s someone that our daughter loves and identifies with. When we gave Bunny her first pair of training pants, she was so excited because Prairie Dawn gets to buy her very first pair of underwear in this DVD. When she has an accident we sing Grover’s “Accidents Happen” song. And when she doesn’t feel like sitting on the potty, we remind her about how Curly Bear used the potty for the very first time. Yes, judge me if you’d like, but sometimes an educational DVD is just the trick to help a small child grasp the concept of using the potty.
- I don’t know how I’d survive cleaning the bowl of the potty every time without our diaper sprayer. It takes two seconds to rinse out pee and poop from the potty between uses, and I feel certain that the potty is clean enough that it won’t cause a health hazard then to be left in the middle of the living room floor for easy access.
- I am very thankful for wood and linoleum floors when it comes to taking my daughter’s diaper off. It gives me a sense of peace knowing that accidents will be wiped up with ease.
Guest Blogger:Becca G is a guest blogger for the Cloth Diaper Blog. Becca is a part time Spanish Teacher, a part time stay-at-home-mom, and the wife of the best husband imaginable. Becca’s absolute favorite thing to do is to spend time with her little family. She also enjoys doing anything crafty – from making jewelry, to writing, to sewing, to photography.Support a fellow cloth diapering mom! Becca’s etsy shop: Cloth Diaper Mommy or you can visit her blog, Makin' It.