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Potty Learning tips from a Mom of 6

By Naomi Mitchell, mom of 6 (soon to be 7) beautiful children &, owner of TomFips

Potty training seems to scare so many mothers. When to start, how to do it, why won't my toddler do anything? Frustration, tears , miserable moms and even sadder kids.

This is not how it needs to be, just like walking, talking and sleeping through the night are milestones, so is learning to use the toilet.

Potty training is a harsh word, toddlers learn to use the toilet and do not need to be trained. All they need is a little direction and suggestion when they are ready to reach the milestone.

When will my toddler be ready?

They will show you! Each child is individual , some are ready at 18 months but most take far longer, often closer to 3 years.

When I was a new mom, I wanted to potty train my first daughter at 18 months, that seemed to be the age other moms around me started and well I didn't want her to be behind so I got a potty and panties, made a star chart etc etc. Things did not go well, she wouldn't sit on it, and when she did, we could sit for an hour and nothing happened. I was getting tired and frustrated and she was getting miserable .

After about 6 months we maybe had one wee, another 6 months of tears and frustration and still no luck, really, I thought I was doing something terribly wrong. I was told to smack her when she did it in her pants or give a punishment. I probably tried it once and realised that was no good either, she certainly was not doing it on purpose. In the end, this kid needed time, much more time than I thought. She was fully off nappies at 4,5 years only. When she eventually figured it out, it took a week and we were done.

What went wrong?

In hindsight I now know I was pushing her too early when she was just not ready. You cannot make a baby crawl or walk, they get there when they are ready in their own time. I was never going to go through that same stress ever again.

My 2nd kid I still tried to train him but was far more relaxed and calm, things went so much better. He was all done when he was 3.

My 3rd kid was a surprise, 2 years and 2 months old and one week of potty learning and we had no more nappies, day or night.

​4th kid I was very relaxed, we had just moved house and I was pregnant with no 5. I just left him to figure it out all by himself. I specifically remember that from quite young( 17 months) he has some bladder control and could wee on demand, however apart from suggesting he use the toilet at bath time, I never did anything further, he learnt it all alone with lots of examples from siblings. He was 3 when he was out of nappies!

Kid no 5 took much longer again, he took ages to learn to walk(19, 5 months) took ages to say his first word, I figured that learning bladder control would also take a while too, I was right, he showed no interest at all till he was about 3,5 years old so I just left him. He eventually refused to wear a nappy in the day and so ran around without one and then he started to learn. It took time and no rushing etc from me. He had figured it all out by the time he was just over 4!

My 6th child is 2 years 5 months and is now almost completely off nappies( only the night ones remain) what did I do? Same as the last few kids, I did nothing at all. It's been a very hot summer so far, so I just started taking her nappy off and letting her run around with a panty, or leggings or nothing. After a while she started to notice every time she was wet and come and tell me. We would change and just carry on. I started to notice how often she would need to go and at what times she most often went, I also started to notice her behavior just before, (,she would hop around and just look uncomfortable). So one day I took out the potty and asked her if she wanted to sit on it and wee. She did want to sit on it, but of course did nothing, however 5 min later without me asking she hoped back on and did her first wee in the potty. We clapped our hands , told her she was clever and left it at that. Next time she did not want to sit on it, so again I just left her. The next day she did not want to use the potty but decided she needed to sit on the toilet instead, and that was the end of the potty.

She goes to the toilet when I remind her and occasionally on her own too, the accidents get less and less each day, there are no reward charts or sweets when she gets it right and no cross words or angry faces at the accidents either. Painlessly she is learning without any tears or negativity. She will eventually make no more accidents.

It may take a week, it may take a month, it may take 3 months. In the end it really does not matter as we all get there eventually. One day as an adult no one will ask your child at what age they learned to walk or talk or use the toilet, it will not be asked at a job interview and really no one will care whether you were 2 years or 5 years old.

Why do we put so much stress on this when they are little? Is it worth the tears and frustration it seems to take? My opinion, definitely not worth the struggle when they will figure it out without a struggle all by themselves.

Baby no 7 arrives in a few months and potty learning holds no dread for me, because once again, I plan to do absolutely nothing!

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