Friday, November 2, 2012

Potty Training is a Bunch of Crap

Censored Potty Photo
Yes, that's an iPhone. She takes after her dad.

We have two weeks (maybe less) to hopefully finish potty training The Duchess before baby number two gets here.  After that I'm on my own. Stevie will be preoccupied with healing from surgery and feeding The Captain and all potty training duties will fall to me. This is not a skill I possess.

This is my impression of me potty training my daughter:

"Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" "Do you need to go potty?" (Look away for five seconds) OH NOOOOO!!!

I don't actually yell at her. To a two-year-old, I'm sure I'm kind of scary when I yell, and the last thing I want to do is make her poop more. I just don't know what I am doing wrong.

She is almost there. We send her to day care without diapers - just an extra pair of pants in case of accidents. Most days she comes home wearing the same pants we dropped her off in. Her teacher tells me how smart she is and how she had 0 accidents. I tell her teacher that she must be some sort of crazy magic baby whisperer to achieve such success, because before we even get home The Duchess will have somehow bent space and time and already peed all over the living room floor.

My wife is a potty training genie too. Here is my impression of her potty training the Duchess:

"Duchess, do you need to go potty?"

"Yes, mommy I do. Please excuse me while I pull my own pants down and do it all by myself without getting any poop all over myself, the toilet or you… OK I'm done now AND I've washed my hands. Would you also like a back rub?"


Like I said, soon enough my wife is out of the equation. Then it is is just me, The Duchess  and the poor poison control operator who has to listen to my questions on what I should do after somehow getting poop in my eye. IN MY EYE!

So I turn to you dear readers. What am I doing wrong? Is it me? Why will she go for Mom and Ms. Lupe, but "Daddy-Daughter time" has become "Let's-Ruin-The-Carpet time"?

Here's my process (which is the same as the daycare and my wife's process)
  • Take her to the toilet every ten minutes.
  • Talk about potty ALL OF THE TIME (seriously, it's all we talk about)
  • Celebrate success. (I basically act as if she's been accepted to Harvard every time there's even a drop in the trainer.)
  • Give encouragement when mistakes happen. (I don't get mad. I explain that poop goes in the potty, not on the couch and gently carry her to the bathroom.)
  • We've also tried rewards (Sticker Board, M&M's) – but honestly, she gets a bigger kick out of flushing the toilet.

Anyway, chime in with critiques, advice, personal success and/or horror stories in the comments.  



P.S.   Just want to thank you all for the amazing response we received from the My Friend Liz post. We raised a ton of money (leaving out dollar amounts for privacy reasons). Just know that you all made a huge and wonderful difference for a family going through a really hard time. Our local ABC Affiliate even did a news story about it! So bravo. You all are the best readers a dad could ask for!!!


  1. Oh wow... First & foremost, toddlers are each different. As you will soon find out no two kids are alike. The minute you think you've got it figured out b e w a r e. Potty training 101 - focus, but NO PRESSURE. I've potty trained 3 boys. Each was different, each ready for big-boy undies, by the time their training kicked in (they were between 2yr and 2yrs/4mos). Our middle sons training was initiates because his little brother was soon to be born and, to be perfectly honest, we planned it so we would be dealing with only 1 in diapers. So here's what we did...we sat him on the toilet and s a n g his favorite Rafi songs. No drilling him with questions about having to go potty or poop. Just invited him to have a seat every-so-often (the obvious times like after he'd wake up from a nap, after a meal, after a snack/drink, after playing outside for a while, before heading off to run errands, etc), and we'd sing fun songs. Soon enough, once he made a deposit, he'd be so excited with his accomplishment. Then he began recognizing the sensation and initiate things himself (which in the beginning meant making a 'mad dash' to the bathroom!). However it works for your sweet dutchess, make it a no pressure event. It is inevitable and all will work out perfectly fine. I promise. =)

  2. I've heard of pink eye?!?!?!.........Hehehehe....I think these wonderful little creatures sense stress and it seems like this has become a stress for you....although is it any wonder after the incident we shall now just call "brown eyed boy" ?!?!? Ewwww....anyhow I digress.....

    Sounds like its just the last stage of toilet training and with the BIG steps "walking,crawling,sitting etc" we put heaps of pressure on ourselves.....I used to say to myself "If there is not a physical/intellectual reason for them not getting it...chill they will! There aren't many older kids walking round in nappies, using a pacifier or bottle it will happen!!! ".....Maybe it was wrong that I talked to myself?!?!?

    Anyhoo, having said that my 11 year old still makes a trip to my bed a few nights a week and when she rolls over and king hits my sleeping face it never fails to make me think (after the adrenalin from being attacked in my sleep subsides).....AAARRRGGGHHHH why is she coming into my bed, whats wrong with my parenting, bad mother, bad mother!!!

    1. There may be High School students wearing diapers. We would never know!

    2. We would, because they like wearing their pants below their butt! Not sure seeing a "Huggies" label rather than a Calvin Klein label, would get them in the "in group" though : )

  3. John be aware that even if you have the Duchess completely trained before the Captain gets here the Duchess may regress. This is all part of the sibling adjustment to the new baby. Aunt Brenda

    1. Aunt Brenda! Do not speak such lies on my blog. You take your "science" and your "facts" and leave me alone. I will not hear it!!

      (But really, yeah I expect that. I'm kind of hoping she regresses to calling "strawberries", "saw-babies". That was super cute and I miss it.

    2. Sorry to disappoint you with my complete truth about what to expect. The Duchess is very smart and you are an amazing dad. You both will get this figured out. I love the saw-babies and I can see why you would want her to regress in some things. :)

  4. Maybe since it seems she ONLY does it to you then perhaps creating a ritual that is only for you and her. Make a game of it. Maybe make a door chart on the bathroom door showing the days of the month, etc. Give her some small reward every time she does it right. Then if at the end of the week she has enough stamps let her choose to do an adventure with you. It could be as simple as letting her choose which way you go on a walk. My dad used to do this with me a lot as a kid, to give our mom some time out. Or let her help you make cookies/pancakes with you, choosing the toppings/ingredients.

    What I've learned is that kids love ritual, with my son basically we bribed him with life savers. Terrible I know. But every time he went to potty he got to have one. Lucky for us he never figured out that it also increased how often we were making him brush his teeth. lol

  5. Oh dear Lord, I totally had these same challenges with my son.

    We started training just after he turned 2, and tried EVERYTHING (sticker and candy bribes, constant asking, several different potty seats, books about potty training). He'd have successful days, and days when I cleaned 5-7 pairs of underwear. It took about 6 months to get to where he'd consistently pee in the toilet with zero accidents. Then another 6 months to get him to poop in the toilet. I swear, one day around his 3rd birthday, he just seemed to decide that he was ready to use the toilet. My takeaway...we started potty training before he was ready.

    Clearly, I have no great methods or advice, other than this: she'll get it soon enough. Just do what you can to stay sane.

  6. I have nothing constructive to add I just wanted to say that I love your blog. Your sense of humor reminds me of my husband, who is currently deployed, and believe me that's a huge compliment. :) Good luck with the potty training.

  7. I don't have children of my own, but I was old enough to still have memories of it by the time I was completely potty trained. This is why I'm commenting as Anonymous today.

    I was five years old before I fully learned to take care of my own bodily functions. I peed just fine, but for some reason I couldn't get the pooping thing down. Mostly with me it was just...I don't know...laziness? I wouldn't go to the bathroom if I needed to poop because I didn't want to leave whatever activity I was doing. And because I didn't really know how to hold it, I ended up with poopy pants far too often. I finally realized that it was easier to go use the toilet than change my clothes all the time, and then I just started doing it.

    While this may not be extremely helpful to your situation, I just wanted to reaffirm that, at least for me, when kids are ready they'll do it. Until then, sorry about the mess.

    P.S. My older brother was also a late potty trainee, but none of my other siblings ever had problems. I guess we're just gifted.

  8. Repeat this mantra: Every kid is different. And if some twat tells you their kid potty trained in a day, you've got the permission of 95% of parents to smack them. Also, tell them ponies learn to walk the day they are born; did their kid do that? huh? huh?

    Also every kid plays the adults in their lives like fiddles. She'll do things differently for the daycare teacher, for her mom and for you. So, relax. She's playing you, Dad! The only deadline you have is one you set in your imagination. She has no such deadline in her head. Just roll with it. Yes, the accidents suck, but it's not life shattering.

    She'll be fine, she may even regress when the baby is born, but unless something awful happens between now and her prom, you will not be asking her "Do you need to go potty?" in front of her date.

    The best advice we got? TAKE THE POTTY EVERYWHERE. Our son was not confident about sitting on big toilets, so the potty went to his auntie's house when we visited, it stayed in the car when we went to the mall and it was used in the back of the van when we shopped for gardening supplies (driving a van that smells of poop ensures that any road-side stops by the police will be short lived, a theory I've yet to test). AND as we have only one bathroom in our house, that potty lived on the main floor where our son had easy access to it.

    Also: Once you've had poop in your eye, you're immune to everything else gross in the world.

  9. I watch my grand daughter during the day while her parents work and I guess I forgot how hard the potty training was.. But we have it down now, I did the mistake by yahooing and kicking up our heels and doing the potty dance when she went in the potty instead of her pants, dumb me and now every time she goes we have to do the yahoo potty dance. So if you happen on us at Walmart or Smiths, NO I am not crazy.

  10. I have to say, I feel your pain Brotha! I have gone through pretty much everything you have with a similar result. The term "awe maaan!" in a disappointed tone has worked its way in to her vocabulary. We tried everything, treats, songs, a special trip to her favorite places,etc. Nothing was working, it was almost like she had no interest in the potty. I started to get the impression she was just lazy and liked me to clean up her mess. HAHA! Then one day we sent her off to Grandma's house for a whole week. My Mother vowed that she would be trained by the time she came home. I was like "YEAH RIGHT!" Then BAM! She was into it! What THA? What did my mother do? She has this big giant grandfather clock in her living room and every time the thing would go off she would tell my little girl, ITS TIME FOR POTTY!!! And she would race in, pull down her pants and GO. By the end of the week she was asking Grandma if it was time yet and telling her if she had to go. Needless to say, we do not have this giant potty training grandfather clock so we had to implement a system using our cell phones. We let her pick the song she wants to hear as an alarm an then when it goes off we sing and dance all the way to the potty. This has worked well and she has had a few accidents but is well on her way to just doing it on her own. Hope this idea helps.

  11. My mother said that I was potty triad withing the first year, her secret? Fabric diapers! yes, it is a bit of a hastle, cleaning wise, but she said that the reason it worked is because unlike regular diapers, which absorb, cloth diapers get wet, and uncomfortable. so, I apparently wanted to be out of them as quickly as possible. maybe some advice for little one number 2? :)

  12. It would be joyful for the parents to bear the responsibilities of bringing up the child together, so they must not hesitate to get the necessary tips for potty training and play their role as good parents perfectly.

  13. Then it is is just me, The Duchess and the poor poison control operator who has to listen to my questions on what I should do after somehow getting poop in my eye. IN MY EYE! How to potty train your baby

  14. daymm baby too young for iphone .. give a her a samsung galaxy instead

  15. This post really did make me laugh. Some daughters just like to push there dads buttons. I know I did, I put a banana in my dads VCR to see if it would come up on the screen when I was younger.