• An Ordinary Mother

Potty Training can be Pants!

I am not going to lie to you, potty training has not been my favourite part of parenting!

I was lucky enough to attend a session with Sue from Little Life Steps. I found it so informative and I felt really confident I had the right stuff and the right attitude for when my child was ready.


It was that bit I struggled to judge! He clearly knew when he needed to poo as he hid, and he was starting to grab the front of his nappy when he was going for a wee. We decided to go for it around 2.5 in lockdown as we figured that we’d benefit from not having lots of events to attend. But he made absolutely no attempt to communicate his needs, cried whenever he was placed on the potty, and didn’t seem to be learning from his accidents.


We were still working throughout ‘lockdown’; the inconsistency between the weekdays with Nanny and the weekends with us – and between myself and my husband – set us up for failure too. We would forget to remind him; we were frustrated with accidents; we resorted to the nappy too many times. I found myself getting cross with my husband if our son wet himself, assuming he’d missed cues or not tried hard enough to sit him on the potty – but I didn’t want to push him on there either when he was crying!


I don’t know if he just wasn’t ready, or whether it was that WE weren’t ready. Either way, we decided to go back to nappies for a while and focus on embedding the building blocks.


I was incredibly surprised that the first day we started trying again when he was nearly 3, he did all his wees and a poo in the potty. Considering this was the child who hid for every poo since he could walk, the fact that every poo that week was on the potty was quite a feat! He was really pleased too. Our son responded well to praise and celebrating successful trips to the potty, but I know from our session with Sue that some don’t like to make a big deal of it. He liked ‘flushing Mr Poo into the loo’, although was less impressed with sending Mr Poo to Pooland! We all work hard to be positive about poo as he did have one weekend where he held it in and we wanted to ensure that we were encouraging him as much as we could.


However, sometimes I feel less like I’m training my son and more like I’m training myself to remember to prompt him! I spend my time clockwatching because his answer to ‘do you need a wee’ is always no and if left to his own devices, I’d be doing a lot more washing! Instead we have ‘potty time’ and there are no histrionics now when we ask him to sit on the potty, and then he’s pleased with himself when he realises he has done a wee. He’s starting now to say that he wants to sit on the potty a bit longer if he knows he still needs to go. When he does start to have a wee or a poo with his pants still on, he tells us and we quickly finish on the potty at least. I’ve learned to believe him if he pulls his pants back up and says he doesn’t want to go at that time.


I was right all those months ago that in some ways, lockdown has been a good time to tackle this because we can’t go anywhere. We have time to establish this at home before we stress ourselves out with lots of trips. We risked a quick visit to the park a couple of weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised when we dropped some presents off to the grandparents this weekend that he was able to hold it all the way there, during a quick scoff of a biscuit on the drive (can’t break tradition!) and all the way home. Even then, he didn’t go immediately when we got back so I know we’re making progress with how long he can hold it.


One thing I definitely wouldn’t recommend is physical rewards for every wee or poo, or you may have some tears when he does a wee and you seemed unimpressed! We certainly didn’t have a good reason why that particular trip to the potty wasn’t deserving of a reward, and so we phased that out very quickly – although it was useful to get him started. Stickers may be better for a cheap, easy and manageable alternative, and Sue had some themed reward charts that celebrated all the different stages like pushing down their own pants and washing their hands afterwards.


As with everything in parenting, there is no hard and fast rule book with potty training but make sure you are in the right head space, and don’t obsess over doing it before a set month if you don’t have to. Don’t compare to the child who was potty trained by the time they were two as that pressure will only negatively affect you. They all get there in the end. As Sue told us in on our top tips page:


Be patient = a relaxed child is more likely to wee and poo.

Be prepared for some accidents = learning

Make some time = less stress

Have a positive attitude = enjoyment for child

No major events coming up = more likely to succeed.


For more support with potty training, follow Little Life Steps on Instagram and check out the page from Sue.

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