From Prodigy to Dunce, Our Potty Training Story

I was baby-sitting a 3 year old boy when Lily was 14 months old. He was working on potty training, but didn’t want to sit on our toilet, so I stuck Lily on the potty to show him it wasn’t scary… and she peed. I thought it was a coincidence, but from then on, she would pee or poop when I put her on the potty.

I thought I had a potty training prodigy on my hands. Everyone thought she was a genius. Her potty antics were literally a party trick with our family. Everyone gathered around the toilet to see in person that this tiny baby could really use the potty.

She told us when she had to use the potty by using sign language (Word to the wise: If there’s ever a bad time to use baby sign language, it’s for this. She wouldn’t say the word potty for forever and she’s not always in my line of sight!). Within 2 months, she was keeping her diaper dry most days. It was amazing! I thought we’d be off diapers before she was 18 months old.

And then she turned 17 months old. And she learned how to say “NO!” And nothing has ever been the same.

She kept pooping on the potty, which I appreciate all the more now that I have a 19 month old who does not, but peeing on the potty became a major issue. She refused to do it and eventually apparently forgot how to tell if she had to pee. All of our attempts to finish off her potty training failed for a year and a half.

In the beginning, I was very patient about potty training, but as the YEARS passed, I grew more and more irate with her as we tried every trick in the books to get her to finish this off. Nothing worked. Most days went something like this:

I had enrolled Lily in an awesome preschool, but she had to be potty trained before she started. As the first day of preschool loomed near, I was in a panic. I was desperate for her to start afternoon preschool because she no longer napped and her little sister wasn’t sleeping so well at night. I needed a break and had been looking forward to preschool for MONTHS. She HAD to get out of here for my sanity (and I guess she’d learn something there too).

But it just wasn’t happening. I’d put her in underwear and my couches, floors, chairs, lawn, porch, sandbox, bed and swingset would all be peed on numerous numerous NUMEROUS times. I’d take her to the potty every 15 minutes and she’d pee like 3 minutes after she got off the potty. How could a kid who was almost fully potty trained at 16 months old be completely unable to put her pee in the potty 1 month short of her third birthday?!

My patience wore thin. I repeatedly did the one thing you aren’t supposed to do while potty training: I yelled. I yelled a lot. It’s a mystery to me how people make it through potty training without yelling. If you made it without yelling, you are a saint. When I’m looking at my 5th puddle in 30 minutes (No joke. How is that even possible?!) from a kid who was peeing in the potty regularly 20 months before, I lose it.

Time was running out. I actually called Lily’s preschool teacher and informed her we’d have to withdraw her because she wasn’t potty trained. The teacher said to give it one last try to see if we could make it work. I didn’t see how anything could change over the course of a few days, but I got one last potty training e-book ( 3 Day Potty Training by Lora Jensen) and used its techniques.

For us, it was a miracle. Somehow, just changing our wording from “Do you have to go potty? You need to use the potty!” to “Are you still dry? You need to try hard to keep your underwear dry!” magically made her put forth the effort to use the potty. I mean, it didn’t take only three days, but we were finally having enough success that I felt comfortable sending her to school TWO weeks later (we like to cut things close around here).

But did our story end there? Will our potty training saga ever end? No. More on that tomorrow.



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8 Responses to From Prodigy to Dunce, Our Potty Training Story

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