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My son, Cam, is now 20 months old. He is showing a lot of interest in potty training but of course everyone is telling me he is too young. That doesn’t mean he is too young to introduce him to the first 3 steps of potty training! I like to think of these steps as the introductory period of potty training. It is not serious potty training – yet. I am not actively encouraging him to go into the bathroom constantly, but am introducing him to these three things.
Step 1: What Happens in the Bathroom
It is no surprise to any mom that we never get any privacy in the bathroom. Only my 4 year old daughter gets privacy because she insists that no one can be in the bathroom when she is. I agree…so why don’t I get privacy?
So when Cam decides to follow me into the bathroom, I always verbally tell and try to show him what I am doing in there. From talking about the toilet that I am using, to showing him his very own mini potty and very own potty training seat for the big toilet, I am letting him know the truth about what happens in the bathroom.
It may seem weird, but I let him know that I am peeing so he can hear what it sounds like. I let him look into the toilet when I am finished and he flushes. If you are constantly shutting your children out of the bathroom, trust me that they are going to be nervous when they are being told to now go in there all of the time. Make your bathroom at home a safe space. Teach your children that being in the bathroom is 100% natural and normal.
Step 2: Learning The 3 P’s
I like having options available when introducing children to potty training. My daughter preferred to use the mini potty when she was potty training. She also had her own potty training seat for on the regular toilet, but it never fit the toilet right so it didn’t get used. I wanted to provide those same options for Cam so I set out to find a potty training seat that would actually fit my oblong shaped toilet. I found out that this potty training seat made by Jessa Leona works best for my toilets. Cam is comfortable on it! It doesn’t wiggle around, the inside ring isn’t slippery like a regular toilet seat, and it has a lower urine splash guard so he won’t have to jump over that hump before sitting down.
Cam knows the American Sign Language signs for poop and pee. I show and say both to him when I am doing either. I also sign to him when I believe he is doing either in his diaper. There is always talk about his poop and pee when changing his diapers (and has been forever!) because it is important for children to learn what is in their diaper and why it is being changed. Listen, if you’re a parent, this is just every day chit chat with your kids. If you aren’t talking about poop and pee, go ahead and start because EVERYONE does it and it is better to teach your children about what is coming out of their bodies earlier rather than later.
He is also starting to hide when he is going poop. A lot of people have told me that this is a key sign that he is ready to be potty trained, but let’s remember that he knows what his body is doing (pooping). For Cam, he shows me the ASL sign for poop AS he is pooping. GREAT! Good start! But the difference is that he needs to recognize that he has to poop PRIOR to actually going so we can make it to the bathroom in time. This is why I don’t think it is time to actively potty train. But I am saying and signing as he is trying to hide and poop that we need to be going into the bathroom instead. I also try to get him to run to the bathroom if I think he hasn’t finished in his diaper yet. Sometimes, even if he did finish in his diaper, we go into the bathroom and put his poop either in his mini potty, or I put his potty seat on the toilet and put the poop in there so he can see where it is actually supposed to go. Bye bye poopy!
Step 3: Proper Bathroom Etiquette
It is never too early to teach your children proper bathroom etiquette. If you are going into the bathroom, then you should be washing your hands before you come out. So even if I am just running Cam into the bathroom to put his poop in the potty, I still help him wash his hands before he leaves.
Additionally, other bathroom etiquette that I believe are important are:
- Always flushing
- Putting the seat down when you are done (we’ll get to that when Cam is tall enough to stand and pee)
- Never leaving an empty roll of toilet paper on the hanger
- Hanging up the hand towel after you are finished drying your hands
A lot of those things come with age, but it is never too early to talk about them since you are already in the bathroom anyways! Cam loves to flush the potty, and I encourage him to do it after he checks out what I did or if his poop is in the potty. Of course we wash our hands and I hang the towel when we are done. His sister is even starting to tell him what she is doing and encourages him to sit on his potty. She praises him, tells him good job and claps along with him when he does sit down (even if his pants are still on!) It is all a process and we are going one step at a time!
Potty Training Takes Time
I am a firm believer that potty training just doesn’t happen overnight. It took my daughter months before she was 100% pee potty trained. It was a breeze getting her to poop on the potty because she hated that in her diaper, but pee was another story. I didn’t even worry about nighttime potty training until she mastered daytime potty training. But if you are interested in how I helped her out with that, you can read my post about when to start potty training and the trick I used for nighttime potty training.
My goal is for Cam to be 100% daytime potty trained by December of 2017. That gives both of us a year to master it. He will be 5 months shy of 3 years old by then. But you never know. Every kid is different! I won’t be upset or mad if he isn’t 100% trained by then. At least I know that I am trying. We are eventually going to master this skill.