Chasing Ri and Bo

What All Those Parenting Books Aren’t Telling You About Potty Training

There should be a support group for parents struggling with potty training their little humans. I imagine it would be called Potty Training Anonymous and would consist of frazzled mothers, strung out on caffeine, sitting in a circle drinking boxed wine, while sharing war stories about their toddler’s toilet habits.

My story would go like this:

“Hi my name is Jenna and my child is almost four years old and refuses, yes refuses, to poop on the potty.”

Yes, you read that right, she is almost four. The child speaks in full sentences, tests out of her age group in almost every area, but can’t fathom the idea of pooping on the toilet, because that would be weird. No, my sweet, sweet, diaper-wearing child, you pooping under the kitchen table, while asking for privacy and milk in the same sentence, is weird.


I’ve received a lot of advice on the subject and tried many different strategies, but the truth is that it has been a really long road. A bumpy road, filled with a lot of tears, a lot of poop, sticker charts, and countless bribes and treats. Nothing thus far has proven successful, or had a lasting effect on my very strong-willed poop machine, but I will not give up. I will win this war – a victory that will ensure that my child does not go to kindergarten with hello kitty pull-ups sticking out of her jeans.

Although victory is not yet mine, I have learned a few very important things:

  1. Toddler poop is grown-up poop. “Smelly” and “disgusting” just don’t cover the grossness that is changing your three year-old’s diaper. Start your potty training early and be consistent. Don’t give up until you’ve heard the sweet, sweet words, “Mommy! I pooped on the potty.” It will feel like you won a lifetime supply of wine. Enjoy it. Savor it.
  2. Candy bribes can and should be used for your own stress eating. Hey, if your kid is eating M&Ms and still pooping in a diaper, you deserve to indulge. Do it. Do it without guilt. Enjoy it. I know I do.
  3. A plan is great, but prepare for the possibility of it going off course. A “potty plan” is kind of like a “birth plan.” You may know how you want it to go, but surprise, the baby is suddenly crowning butt first and you need an emergency C-section. It happens, so does poop, and you can’t always prepare for it. The more you can be patient and go with the flow, the better.
  4. Be prepared for all scenarios, especially when venturing out into public with your semi-potty trained little human. The horror that is public restrooms is hard to maneuver alone and 100 times more difficult with a toddler. Their curiosity will get the best of them and they will want to touch everything within reach, and I mean everything. Here is what you will need:
    • Clorox wipes – for obvious reasons.
    • Tissues- for when your toddler unrolls the toilet paper into a big pile on the floor.
    • Hand sanitizer- yep – clean hands are happy hands.
    • Extra clothes? Yes! For your toddler and yourself. Potty training is messy and not always contained. You will be grateful for the clean shirt when your other one suddenly smells like urine and has questionable stains on it.
  5. Be kind. This is a huge deal for you, but it is an even bigger deal for your child. It can be frustrating – there will be days when you want to hide in your closet with a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a sign on the door saying, “mommy is in time-out,” but it will get better. At least, I still have faith that it will.

I am committed to the process. I am confident that I will not be buying Depends for my 8 year old, while stocking up on necessities like eggs, milk and wine. It will happen and I can’t wait until it does. Until then, I will keep fighting the good fight, and I know it will be worth the wait.

This post was originally written and published for Little Things.

One thought on “What All Those Parenting Books Aren’t Telling You About Potty Training

  1. Wonderful Jenna…
    And remember, I never had a kindergartener walk in in diapers. You will survive ♡♡

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