The first day of potty training did not go well. My wife and I told my then two-year-old daughter that we felt like she needed to walk over to the toilet, pull down her underwear and use the bathroom.
For us adults, it seemed incredibly simple. To a toddler, not so much. Despite asking my daughter almost every five minutes if she needed to use the bathroom, she said she was okay. She would then pee on the floor. It was an imperfect process that showed its flaws.
When we asked my daughter why she didn’t use the toilet she simply said, “I forgot.” In the early days of potty training, we found that she would become easily distracted. Sometimes she would be caught up in a television show, other times she played with a fun toy, while others the idea of using the potty simply slipped her mind.
While using the bathroom has become commonplace for adults it is still new ground for children. They have never used a toilet before, so it is hard to imagine they would do it right the first time. The key to teaching her, and really how we teach her anything important, is to keep a calm and consistent message that she could easily remember. Hopefully, after enough repetition, the message would become so ingrained it would be impossible to forget.
Repeating Our Process
We tried to keep things simple for our daughter. After our early mistakes, we started to find a routine that worked. Whenever she felt like she needed to go, she would simply walk over to the toilet, pull down her underwear (if she had any on) and go to the bathroom. We kept the toilet in the same place at all times so she would know where to find it. If she had an accident, we would clean it up without making a big deal. If she had success, we celebrated.
By keeping things the same way, it was easier for her to learn. We tried to take as many factors out of the equation as possible. At first, we had her wearing her normal clothes but quickly found that was too much to take care of at one time.
That is not to say that our way was perfect. Every kid will learn at their own pace and in their own way; my daughter had her challenges. Like with other aspects of parenting, though, my wife and I always tried to stay on the same page. We taught potty training the same way, had the same reactions, and attempted to keep things as consistent and repetitive as possible.
No matter what method you choose with your child, try to keep things the same. These patterns still exist today. When my daughter says she needs to use the bathroom, we drop everything and take her. We don’t want an accident, but we also want to be consistent. There have been many times where I’ve been in the middle of something or running late to be somewhere, but potty training always came first. Potty training is difficult, but by repeating the same message, keeping things consistent, and staying on a clear message, your child will learn.