Four kids are a lot of work, but these older boys are starting to earn their keep. Chalk one up for the school boys who passed Tess's first of many hours on the potty by sitting and reading to her. I still owe them. But I mostly credit one determined little girl, who now is dressing and undressing herself multiple times a day. I had no idea that started this early. Lord help me.
If you're new to this potty training thing, I'll have you know that there are no magic secrets or hard and fast formulas that work for everyone. Even if you saw it on Dr. Phil, it might not work for you. My earliest was trained right at 2, and a certain boy was definitely three before we could leave the house in undies safely. Every kid is different. But, certain things have worked for us. They may not work for you, but if you're desperate, you'll try anything, so I'll go ahead and share. :)
Here are my top five "what's worked for us" in potty training (I'm so loosing half of my readers right now... bear with me for the sanity of parents of toddlers everywhere!):
1. Don't start until your child shows signs that he is ready. It is tempting to start at a certain age, or when the peer pressure builds because every other mom in your child's class at church starts, but don't do it. You will definitely see signs to let you know that your unique child is ready to give it a go.
2. When you do start, commit to it. Don't start and then stop two days into it. I promise that this will confuse your child. Be consistent, be attentive, and just do it! Training is just that... training. Training takes time and practice, and won't be over in your timeframe (sadly). That being said, if you mess up #1, there's no shame in stopping, and starting again when the time is right.
3. Don't leave your house. I have found that starting on a week when I can stay home for several days straight produces the best results. With a busy schedule and changes in location, it is very difficult for a child to get into a potty routine. Don't add more expectations and stress to an already stressful situation. Oh, and don't plan on answering the phone that week! :)
4. Don't use Pull-Ups during awake hours. I may get some disagreements on this one, but for my kids, it was one more thing to confuse them. We used undies from the start, even when going out, so they could distinguish the need to stay dry. Now naps and overnight, on the other hand, totally acceptable in my book...
5. My favorite potty training secret? Let them go naked at home. You may slightly embarrass the Schwann Man and the Fed Ex guy, but trust me, they'll live to tell someone about it. For obvious reasons, my kids were way more aware of their need to go potty when they were exposed. Many ask if I cleaned up accident after accident using this method, and the answer is surprisingly no.
That is, of course, when I strictly adhered to points 1, 2 and 3.
And by the way, you have my permission to take a picture of that too. It may remind you of sweet victory, or it may come in real handy for their high school graduation open house...