5 Potty Training Hacks
A mother of twins offers practical advice
Photo courtesy of Sasenki/Shutterstock.com
I’m a “germophobe.” The last thing I wanted to do was toilet train not one, but two kids at the same time. Yes, I’m the proud mother of twins. I was fully prepared to let them wear diapers until they figured it out themselves. I definitely didn’t want to clean up urine from the floor — or use public restrooms.
They didn’t exactly train themselves, but they started taking off their diapers and throwing them at each other. At this point, cleaning up an accident seemed more appealing. It was time for me to intervene.
After toilet training twins, I consider myself an expert on the topic. And yes, it was worse than I could have possibly anticipated. I would like to pass along some tips and tricks so, hopefully, you will have better initial success than I did.
Get Toilet Training Videos/Books
Go to the local library with your aspiring toilet user and check out every video and picture book regarding the topic you can find. Look on YouTube for potty training videos or stream them online or via your local library. The idea behind this is to create anticipation, along with learning some training tips. You might also find it entertaining, since some of the videos could be a “Saturday Night Live” skit.
Ditch ALL of the Diapers
This is probably one of the most difficult tasks — and yet the most important one. You need to get rid of every diaper in your house, even the overnight ones. If you use diapers occasionally for a long car ride or other similar situation (which is tempting and why you must get rid of all of them), it will confuse your child and create bad habits, because it’s easier to just go in a diaper than hold it and find a bathroom. The more chances your child has to use the toilet, the more it will become a habit.
At first, I allowed my twins to continue wearing overnight diapers. I noticed every morning my son would have a full diaper. I didn’t think he would ever be trained during the night. One day, I put waterproof bedding underneath him and put him in underwear at bedtime. Guess what didn’t happen? He didn’t wet the bed — he got up and used the toilet.
Make It Fun
If you don’t want to toilet train your child, she won’t want to do it. If you make it fun, she will feel encouraged to try — and keep trying. Toilet training videos often feature songs. Sing them with your child before and while she is in the bathroom. Also let her drink lemonade, juice or drinks you might not normally allow to enhance her need to urinate and the fun atmosphere.
One of the most difficult aspects of toilet training is leaving the house, since you will not often have much warning before your child tells you he needs to go, or know where the nearest bathroom will be. First, I always asked my twins if they needed to use the bathroom before we left the house. Then I packed at least two changes of clothes, along with some wipes and trash bags, in case they had an accident. I ended up purchasing a small portable toilet for the car, which was helpful for long car rides or when visiting places without a public restroom.
Your child is going to have accidents. It’s part of the learning process. The more patient you are about this process, the easier it will be for both you and your child. At times you might think your child is fully trained, since she will go without an accident for weeks and then randomly have one. This is normal. Often, young children are so involved with their play that they don’t realize they need to use the bathroom — or haven’t planned enough time to get there. Don’t worry, there will come a time when they are fully trained; it just might take a while.
Cheryl Maguire has a master's in counseling psychology. She is married and the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Parents Magazine, Upworthy, Your Teen Magazine and "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings." Follow her on Twitter @CherylMaguire05.