Kathy Peel's Potty Training Advice

Filed under: Potty Training

At Potty Training Central, our mission has been very clear: to get our community the very best tips and advice on potty training. So to help us reach our goal, we turned to our very own ParentDish contributor, Kathy Peel -- also known as America's Family Manager. Kathy is the founder and CEO of Family Manager Coaching, as well as the author of several books, including "The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home: Fast Solutions to Hundreds of Everyday Dilemmas" and "The Family Manager Takes Charge: Getting on the Fast Track to a Happy, Organized Home." Our ParentDish editors interviewed Kathy to get her wisdom on the potty training process.

Kathy Peel: When our first-born son reached the happy-toddler age of twenty months, I launched into senior manager mode, scanning current literature and surveying carpool moms about potty training. I sorted through a growing pile of sources (colored tabs were involved) sprouting tips, methods, and child-rearing philosophies all the way from Dr. Dobson to my most opinionated single girlfriends.

After a couple of weeks, I forced shut my three-ring binder and told my husband that many sources I'd read said that girls mature earlier and are easier to potty train than little boys -- and I was out to prove the experts wrong. I was dead set on potty training John by his second birthday. I shared with Bill two important points parents need to discuss before potty training their child.

First, they need to decide what terms they'll use in the teaching process -- and my research varied wildly. Some experts approach potty training quite seriously, suggesting moms not use terms such as "pee and poop," "go big potty," or "number one and number two." I just couldn't buy their hard-line method because, to me, there's something about hearing a two-year-old say he needs to defecate that doesn't sit quite right.

Bill and I decided to go the initials route: "T-T" and "B.M"-and now that our sons are grown, responsible and well-rounded young men, I know there was no harm down. The only glitch was when our third-born son didn't pronounce consonants clearly for a while. He could pronounce the term "T-T" just fine, but "B.M." came out -- so to speak -- "Mia" (pronounced: me-a). This proved to be confusing to babysitters when James would repeat "Mia! Mia! Mia!" They wondered if this might be his grandmother's nickname or if he'd been watching Italian movies. And one time the term caused unnecessary trauma on a family vacation when we stopped for the night at the Casa Mia motel in west Texas. James feared we were staying in a big bathroom.

The second point that parents must decide is what type of reward system they will use when the desired behavior occurs. When I canvassed preschool moms on the topic, one said she kept candy jars in their bathrooms and another confessed that after weeks of frustration, she offered a trip to the toy store for cooperation. Their methods sounded unhealthy and expensive. But the prize for the strangest strategy goes to the mother who told me that she moved their pet bird into the bathroom to give her son some company while he sat. (Stool pigeon crossed my mind, but I kept silent.)

I tried playing mood music and letting the faucet trickle. I promised John that he could wear special Incredible Hulk underwear for a successful bathroom visit. I even bought the lauded Tinkle Star potty chair which played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" upon victory. Except for the times we poured in water to test it, we never heard the song. After two frustrating months, I threw up my hands and decided that if John wasn't potty trained even by time he turned three, so be it. As it happened, about six months after his second birthday, he decided that he was tired of diapers and wanted to wear big-boy underwear. He had a few accidents over the couple of months, but all in all, he did a great job of potty training himself.

It was then that I recorded in my notebook a third point that I wanted to remember next time around: Don't make a big deal about potty training or try to push a child before he's ready. This saved me a lot of angst the next two go-'rounds.

**Be sure to check out more from Kathy at FamilyManager.com and read all of Kathy's blog posts here on ParentDish.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.