Real Moms' Potty Training Advice & Stories: Chapter One

Filed under: Potty Training

In our continuing quest for the most comprehensive potty training information around, ParentDish reached out to some of our real mom friends to get their home-spun, tried-and-true advice on potty training, as well as their stories. Here's what some of them had to say...

*Diana from Valhalla, NY:
  • When I was toilet training my oldest son, we had little presents wrapped all around our bathroom. When he went in the toilet, he got to choose one to open. He is almost 5 now and when he 'poops' on the toilet, he still gets bubble gum.
  • Another time, I had put him on the toilet to urinate and he didn't go. We had a play date that day, and he decided to pull down his pants and pee in the corner instead!
*Karen from Malvern, PA:
  • In the beginning, we went everywhere with the portable potty seat in the trunk of the car. Fond memories of pulling over on the side of the interstate and setting that up in the woods!
  • I, along with probably every toddler parent in the world, have toured every public bathroom. In the beginning, I think it was more my idea to try them -- but after awhile, it became a game just to go see the bathrooms at the Acme, Home Depot, you name it! By far, the best public bathrooms remain the "family" ones in Disney World!
  • My oldest daughter had an obsession with Elmo. When she was training, we would call Elmo on the phone to celebrate. By the way -- Elmo was my mother or my sister and they knew that if they answered and I said, "Hello, Elmo!" that their voice should suddenly change. Elmo even called her a few times to tell her how proud he was of her.
  • My youngest daughter has an obsession with Spiderman (yes -- she LOVES Spiderman). So, when it came time to pick her underwear -- the princesses, Elmo and Dora panties -- well, she had no issues getting them wet. So out of desperation one day I bought her Spiderman underwear for boys. And yes, Spiderman NEVER got wet! Amazing what kids can do if they want to! Mind you, it was slightly awkward to explain to the daycare teachers not to react to her boys' underwear -- but I actually learned that they (the teachers) prefer boys' underwear when training the kids, as it was much thicker and absorbent. No worries, we did finally get her to switch to girls' style underwear...but only monkeys and Mickey Mouse -- no princesses for her!
  • It is truly possible for a child to hold in her BMs/poops for days. My daughter proved you could go 5 days, despite Mom giving her all the fiber in the world. My daughter refused to poop in the toilet, and we literally tried it all -- over-the-counter laxatives, prescription laxatives, fiber bars, apples galore. In the end, we discovered all natural Juice + Fibre juice boxes. They worked! She called them magic drinks and within minutes of drinking them, she could no longer hold it in. Of course, the celebration included candy, stickers on the reward chart and an occasion phone call to Grandma to share the news! To this day, I still have the letter I wrote to all the teachers in her daycare asking them to watch and if they see her hiding in the corner or sitting on her leg in an odd position, it was time to take her to the bathroom. And be sure to tell mom at the end of the day, so I didn't overdo the fiber that night!
  • Moral of the story -- I tried it all (when it came to potty training) and nothing really worked until she was ready for it! Bribery helps though!
*Jackie from Brooklyn, NY:
  • My daughter is not even a year old yet, but I heard some advice that I think is great for little ones being potty trained who are scared of toilets that flush automatically. I remember my niece, even at 4 years old (potty trained at 2), was scared that the toilet would somehow how suck her down. Someone told me to carry Post-Its and place them over the automatic flush sensor until your child is finished and safely away from the "toilet monster". A Post-It...so simple and so genius.
*Carrie from New York City, NY:
  • For potty training boys: Drop some cheerios in the toilet for target practice.
  • Also a tip for potty training boys: It's good to wait until the warm weather, so they can pee outside on a moment's notice without freezing or having too much stuff to take off. But, be prepared for them peeing places that you may not be thrilled with. In the case of my son: (a) At a friends country club. I turned around when I heard some gasps and he was peeing on a golf green. Not good. (b) At a playground in the Hamptons on Long Island. He found a drain meant for a sprinkler and started peeing into it. (c) In an NYC playground, he got up on the perimeter of a sandbox and started peeing. Luckily outside of the sandbox and not into it! I heard a mother saying, "Well, at least he's not peeing on the other kids."
*Dina from Tenafly, NJ:
  • With my older daughter, I promised her a Pee-Pee Potty Party. We had cake and gave her underwear as presents.
  • With my younger daughter, it has been longer process. She is the youngest one in her class. So, I have the teachers take her to the bathroom any time one of her friends has to go. She used to just watch them, but now she tries going too. I also bought her underwear with her favorite characters on it (Strawberry Shortcake and Dora the Explorer) and show it to her from time to time. She knows that when she is ready, she can wear them. Also, I bought a Tasha doll that is hiding in my house. She knows when she is ready, she can have it. My younger one has a fear of pooping in the potty that my older one did not have. From what I understand, I cannot force the issue and that time is the only thing that will help. We'll see. As of now, I am trying to bribe her with anything I can think of.

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