I was going to name this post “How I Potty Trained My Son in One Day,” and although kinda true, it would also be way to braggy and a wee bit misleading. Here’s the scoop:
My oldest child is compliant. He’s sweet. He’s adorable. He’s a rule-follower. It took time, but at 2 1/2 we had him more or less potty trained. He spent several days at home in a row in underwear with me hovering over him, dragging him to the potty at the first signs of #1 or #2. It wasn’t pleasant, but it worked. He wore pull-ups during naps and at bed time, and I called it a day.
I figured it would be similar with my second child. Except he’s stubborn. He’s defiant. He’s a rule-breaker. (Oh yeah, and also adorable if I do say so myself.) At 2 1/2 I didn’t even think about trying to potty train him, and then a few weeks before his 3rd birthday I decided it was “time.” I put him in underwear and hovered. He peed his pants when I wasn’t looking. I tried letting him run around in his birthday suit. He pooped in the corner when I turned my head.
When we went out he wore underwear under his pull-up so he could “feel” it. This strategy is not recommended and resulted in a very stinky pair of underwear being left in the women’s bathroom at a popular burger chain. Sorry ’bout that.
Needless to say, it was not going my way. I knew he knew what to do. I also knew he wasn’t going to cave easily. I tried positive reinforcement and rewards. We picked out toys he could have after potty success and treats he could eat for his potty-celebration. No go. I tried negative reinforcement. Pee your pants = time out. Fine, time out, he decided.
So, I did what no one had suggested, perhaps because it’s the biggest secret to potty training, perhaps because it may result in your friends calling protective services:
I locked him in the bathroom.
Go ahead, send me hate mail. But my kid is going on the potty. Sure he kicked and screamed. He cried and pouted. My husband looked at me and said, let me quote, “This is never going to work.”
After about two minutes of toddler melt-down…. silence. Which, generally, is not good when it comes to toddlers and being in a room alone. Moments later… “I did it! I put potty in the potty!!”
Jon and I looked at each other and laughed. Ain’t no chance in Hades that kid put potty in the potty. I was sure we were having a Clorox moment. Or Will was just being super spiteful. Jon and I peered around the corner and were both rendered speechless. There was potty in the potty.
We did a family high-five. Chocolate bunnies for everyone. Cupcakes – all you can eat! Toys, hugs, and smiles galore. About 45 minutes later, we asked Will if he needed to go potty. After a potty party like that, he was eager to please. No problem. The kid put potty in the potty. Again.
It’s been seven days since I locked my kid in the bathroom, and he hasn’t worn a diaper since. He’s had two accidents (hey, he’s new at this), but other than that, it’s been a easy-peasy. Yeah, I’m knocking on some wood right now in case you’re wondering.
Will locking your child in the bathroom work for you? Maybe. Probably not. If your child is as stubborn as mine is, though, it’s worth a try. When there are options (either good or bad), mine would pick the one that would make me “lose.” But when presented with no options? Mommy wins.
Regardless of whether you take my advice (and risk a call from DSS) or you go your own way, my biggest piece of advice is this: YOU know your kid best. Skip the manual. Skip the ebook. Skip the blog post from that mom that thinks she knows everything about potty training (although, she may have a point or two).
Just remember, it’s ok if you lose a few battles… you’re gonna win that war. I’ve yet to see a high-school kid in diapers.