There are just some parts of parenting that you don’t hear about, that just isn’t talked about by other parents. Spreading butt cheeks to wipe clean a poopy bum is one of those things. You know in a roundabout way that potty training will be messy, but I’m not sure how prepared we are.
It’s a very different story from using nappy, where is everything is in there. But no nappy means little piles of poop on the floor, a bit running down the leg, and then the discomfort that comes with pooping for all to see.
It’s like your children know through instinct that it’s not right to poo on the floor and are a little embarrassed by it. There is no getting around it, there will be excrement on the floor, on your child, and most likely on your person.
After our diarrhea filled failed foray into potty training, I was a bit nervous about getting going the second time around. This time I made sure I was prepared, and I had help (well for some of it). It still hasn’t gone quite how I expected, but this time we’ve had a few success along with some funny disasters.
Stickers, Stickers and More Stickers
As an ex-primary school teacher, I am a big fan of the sticker chart. It’s a beautiful way to provide motivation and track progress. Stickers are cheap, easy to use and kids love them. My last sticker chart was a fail as I couldn’t find stickers and my alternatives were a poor substitute.
In my scooter travels around Bali, I managed to find some beautiful stickers, there were cars, buses, trucks, bikes, motorbikes, fire trucks and more. I knew my wheel obsessed boys would be super happy. The evening before we began again I sat up making a sticker chart for the boys. You can find some on google if you prefer to download one and print it out.
There is something beautiful about a personalized chart though, and it gives your child a sense of ownership over it. I made the chart and then in the morning I let the boys decorate it. That was fun! They did a great job, and then we also ended up with a marker on the wall.
How to use a Sticker Chart Properly
I often hear parents say, “I’ve tried to use a sticker chart and it didn’t work.” While it’s true that some children are not motivated by sticker charts at all, they are often misused, rendering the chart useless. I’m guilty myself of having used the chart in the wrong way and seeing the kids quickly lose interest.
Make, Download or Buy a Sticker Chart
For a potty training sticker chart, your child is probably not old enough to help in the creation of the chart. However, when using sticker charts for other goals with older children, such as bedtime, behaviors, or chores, it is a great idea to include your child in the process.
Let them come up with some of the targets. In this instance, my boys are too young, so I made the chart myself, and then I let them decorate it, and I talked to them about the sticker chart.
This way they still have some ownership over the chart, and it means something to them. I kept our chart simple, but you could add more sections for sitting on the potty, doing a wee, doing a poo and washing hands. You can be creative.
Introducing the Chart
If your child wasn’t involved in the chart making process hang the chart somewhere that they can see in the morning. When the boys woke up and noticed there chart they were excited.
Something different always sparks a toddlers attention. I made sure to act very excitedly about the chart., “Wow look at that, what is it?”, “It’s your sticker chart for going to the potty.” I showed them the stickers, and we were all very excited and very interested.
I got the potties out, and we practiced sitting on the potty. Every time they sat on the potty I made a huge deal and gave them lots of praise and then a sticker. They walked over to the chart and put their sticker on. They got the idea quickly, much quicker than I would have expected.
I let them sit on the potty as many times as they liked to get as many stickers as they liked. It went on for a good 10 to 15 minutes. But they got the idea, they had a great time, and it was an enjoyable and positive experience.
Positive Reinforcement not Negative
Sticker charts are all about positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, such as using the potty. We want to reward and praise our children for doing a wonderful job with their new skill. It shouldn’t be in any way seen as negative. Once your child gets a sticker, don’t ever take it away. He/she earned the reward.
Sometimes we think as parents that we can also use the sticker chart as a form of consequence and take stickers away for negative behavior. It will work oppositely and stop your child wanting to earn stickers, to see them taken away. Keep consequence and rewards separate from each other.
Rewards Not Bribery
We all know bribery can work like a treat with kids, we’ve all used it, all feel a bit guilty and have all read that we shouldn’t do it. I laughingly joke with my husband that, “It’s all about bribery and corruption!”
Let us be realistic we cannot be perfect all the time, and I wouldn’t feel ashamed for occasionally saying “If you go and clean your room we can go the park for a play” I think on the odd occasion a little bribery can work a treat. However, I would say you don’t use it with the sticker chart.
Sticker charts are working to create a habit, behaviors that your child will continue long after the sticker chart has finished. We don’t want to inadvertently create a situation where our toddler will only go to the potty if they get a sticker. The sticker is an incentive with, a reward, but not a bribe. It’s a subtle but discernible difference.
Bribery – “If you go to the potty mummy will give you TWO stickers!”
Reward – “Well done for using the potty, let’s go give you a sticker. Look, you only need one more sticker, and we can have ice-cream before dinner! Great Job”
Make it Achievable
The reward needs to age appropriate and feasible for your child. Getting 20 stickers might seem impossible to a two year old, difficult to imagine or obtain. If they can never reach their target or it doesn’t seem obtainable, they will quickly lose interest in getting stickers
I found with my boys once they got the idea they weren’t that interested in the stickers anymore. After two weeks, it had served their purpose, and now the boys go to the potty when they need too. The sticker chart should be a short term incentive to help them get the idea of what to do positively. Once it’s no longer need, pop it away.
Week 1 – Ready to Begin Again
I’d heard stories about fabled parents who potty trained their kids in three days. Not so mythical, I have a friend who potty trained her daughter in three days. We’ve not been so fortunate, but that is ok we are each on our journey, at our pace. But thank god for living in a tiled house. I’ve never been more thankful not to have carpets.
Armed with my sticker chart, potties, undies, and potty training books I was full of anxious positively. I couldn’t find the books here in Bali, but thank goodness for youtube. We could watch a reading of the books. My husband was home, and we were ready to go. I was praying that we wouldn’t succumb to another bout of diarrhea.
In the morning we got acquainted with our sticker chart, which was very exciting and we got reacquainted with the potties. The boys were sitting on the potty, getting their sticker, putting it on the chart, and then going to sit back on the potty to get another sticker.
We had a great time, it was a very positive experience, and we were ready to go sans pants for the day. Every 10 to 15 mins you could my voice calling out “Do you need to do a wee?, Do you need to do a poo? Do you need to go potty?” Over and over and over, all day long.
We got a wee each on the potty and the rest on the floor, quite a bit on the floor. Every time the boys had an accident I tried to be positive. “It’s ok, and it’s a just poo don’t worry.”
We had to leave the house!
I realized that expecting two two-year-olds to stay at home for 3 or more days consecutive days was mostly torture for them, and us. Even with daddy home and fun activities, their attention span is just so limited that the days with no pants began to feel long. We had to get them out of the house.
The new rule was no pants at home, but nappies for outings. It worked well for us. Every day the boys were able to do more and more wees in the potty, and we could still get out for lunch or dinner or a play here and there. We even got poop on the potty one morning when video-calling Nana and Pa.
This was great as my son got so much praise and attention for his first poo on the potty. It was a momentous day in our lives as parents.
We kept pants off for the morning, stickers for trips made to the potty and reassurance when accidents occurred. In the afternoon we took a break to head out for a play. Not only did I need a break from the clean-ups, but the boys needed a break.
I found they were beginning to get a little distressed, especially when I noticed that Son 2 was standing quietly by my side of the bed, looking a little guilty. I walked over to see little plops of poo, and some fingers smear on my side of the bed. Beautiful, keep fresh, keep calm and patient.
Poor thing he was looking a little distressed. My boys were not going to on training in three days, and I’m ok with that. Every child is different, and their timing and development is not a reflection of ability as a mom.
The Rest of the Week
The rest of the week the boys had mornings at day-care, and I put them in nappies. I didn’t feel we had enough success over the weekend. We still went sans pants in the afternoon with growing confidence, success, fun times of the potty and attractive toilet sitting aerobics.
The husband was back at work, and I was on my own again. I was determined to keep going. It would be fine. We spent the next three days at home with no pants on, and things were progressing pretty successfully.
I had read that is good practice to get your child out of their night-time nappy and onto the potty first thing in the morning. Easier said than done.
I don’t know what it is about that first nappy change of the day, but my boys do not want to part from their sopping wet nappy they have been wearing for the last 12 hours. I cannot understand this attachment. Wrangling them from the pajamas and nappy first things has become my morning exercise. I still haven’t gotten them to sit on the potty straight away either. But, one step at a time.
Everything was going smoothly, and we were getting more wees on the potty than not. But not the poop, it was still landing firmly on the floor and down legs, but I held onto hope. I also knew that doing a poo on the potty was harder than a wee and sometimes the boys were still taken by surprise at their bodily functions.
Then was Saturday
It’s like, they just forgot everything. Not one wee, not one poo on the potty all day. I don’t know what happened and I was more than a bit discouraged. The worst was when Son 2 came running from their bedroom saying “poo, poo, poo.”
He held his foot up for me to see and sure enough, there was the poop. Then I walked into their room to find that one of my beautiful boys had pooped on the floor, partly on their rug and then they had decided to run their trucks through the poo and laid smelly tracks of excrement all over their bedroom floor.
Really, how can you be positive in these moments? I start yelling “No, don’t touch the poo, don’t touch the poo” They looked a bit shocked, I’m not a yeller, but I was more than a bit horrified at the scene that lay before me. I pulled the trucks out of the poo, moved the boys and went for a bucket of hot soapy water continuing to say “Don’t Touch the Poo!”
So, I cleaned the mess up, cleaned the boys up, washed the floor and took the rug outside to dry in the sun. Then one truck with poop all over the wheels I went out and threw it in the bin. I couldn’t clean it anymore.
What was going on??
The rest of the day was not much better. But I tried to not lose hope.
Then came Sunday
Trying not to feel defeated from the day before, we began again. Today was amazing, every wee on the potty and one poo. That was even more amazing because one of my sons took himself to the potty did a poo, pulled out the container took it to the toilet, emptied the poo and then flushed all before I even realized what had happened!! Horray, wonderful success! I was feeling much more optimistic and thankful. They were doing a fantastic job, and so was I.
The Rest of the Week
This time we headed to daycare wearing undies. A significant occasion. I packed two extra sets of clothes and lots of extra panties. They all came back wet, and Son 2 came home wearing only undies as all his pants had been wet.
It’s so much harder to go at daycare, they might have to wait their turn, they are involved in playing and activities, they have to get their shorts and undies off first, and it’s a new environment and new helpers.
Tuesday and Son 1 came home in only, and there were lots of accidents. I feel blessed my sons go to such a fantastic daycare as they ladies were pleased, laughing and saying “don’t worry they are going well.”
At home in the afternoon without pants and potties close by we are having tremendous success. Wees, poos, and even farts are all on the potty, except for an accident here and there. They seem to have gone the idea now.
Potty Training Twins
So far I don’t think there has been an extra challenge to potty training two at a time. I guess there is double the excrement to clean up, but honestly, by now I’m used to doing double of everything, so it is not much of a shock. The only problem I did come up was when Son 2 wanted to do a wee on the toilet, so off we went.
Then Son 1 came in saying “poo poo poo” and ran off. I quickly looked around, and he hadn’t done on yet. So encouraged him to sit on the potty while keeping an ear out for Son 2 sitting on the toilet.
Son 1 does not want to sit on the potty, and I go back to check on Son 1 who has now dropped into the bowl (he didn’t want to use the potty seat). I help him up and then head back to check on son 2, who has now pooed all over the lounge room mat. Wonderful.
Other than that disaster I think potty training two at once is actually easier. It’s like a reminder when they see the other one go and an incentive when they see them get their stickers.
Not Wanting to be Naked
The other deterrent to our progress is Son 2 likes his clothes and doesn’t like to go around naked or pant-less for too long. He has always shown an interest in clothes and likes to pull out his clothes for me to dress him. When he realizes that he’s got no bottoms on he pretty keen to get some shorts on. When I have put short on him, he couldn’t get them off in time. It is the next stage of our adventures in potty training.
Boy’s and Standing to Wee
I read that boys learn to wee sitting down first, but my boys want to stand, and I just let them go with it. We’ve had a few timing issues and standing at the potty is a bit awkward because they haven’t figured out they need to hold their willy and aim yet.
However, they are standing with their legs bent and to the side of the potty, and they are getting the wee into the bowl pretty successfully, so I’m super happy for them to wee standing up. They are also sitting on the potty back to front, but it’s working ok. I think seeing there daddy wee means they already know they need to stand.
After having great success this past week, we could try an outing in our undies. I was nervous, but we stopped for a smoothie on our way to daycare. Then, I went to our local café where I know the owner and girls who are working. I tried to take the boys to the toilet as soon as we got there in the hopes of avoiding any accidents. They did not want to go to it, and new bathrooms are scary.
Trying to wrangle two toddlers into the toilets was not working. My boys are strong, and I couldn’t leave one outside on their own. We sat down, and I kept asking “Do you need to go wee?” “no, no, no” they forcefully reminded me.
Happily sucking on smoothies, I noticed Son 1 looking far away into the distance. He’s going to wee, and he’s going to wee, He’s weed already. I looked down at the gathering puddle on the floor. Trying not to be frustrated, I said not to worry.
I told the girls who worked there, and they laughed and said ‘Don’t worry, it’s ok. By this stage, we had also spilled berry smoothie everywhere and not armed with my usual nappy bag I had no wipes to clean it up. Note to self even without nappies I still needed a nappy bag.
For us, it seems to be two steps ahead and one step back. But isn’t this the way any of us learn something new.
I believe that we still have a very long road ahead of us. I’m yet to venture out for a play with the boys in just underwear. I’m am thinking this weekend coming I will put them in undies and shorts at home and get more practice asking to go to the potty and more success taking their shorts off. Overall I’m pleased with their progress we have less and fewer accidents every day and it wonderful to see my boys continue to grow, mature and gain even more independence.