I had a nightmare the other night about the time that I tried potty training my son. Not a dream…a nightmare! It was basically about the whole potty training process and what struggles we went through. I remember this time so vividly. I recall every tactic and every fail…

At the time, I was a teller for a local bank. One day, I was waiting on this woman who was bragging about how she got her granddaughter potty trained by 18 months old. I was amazed and just had it in my head that I would be able to do the same thing. With the price and demand for diapers, I was excited that I might be able to get him potty trained and saving money.

So, I started with small steps when he was 18 months old. First attempt was just simply introducing the potty seat to him. It was a colorful potty with a fun face and played music when you “flushed”. Honestly, he just used it as a chair to sit on while he watched Cars Movie. I figured this was a good first step, especially since he seemed to have an interest in the real potty. I knew that I wasn’t going to potty train him overnight, even though that would of been helpful. Spending approximately $40 on diapers every week was insane!

What I didn’t realize was trying to get him potty trained too soon was the folly of first time parenting. Especially, since I saw no other signs of wanting to be potty trained, I did back off some. In fact, I went back and forth about it several times. I would think of a new trick and then try it. I first tried the pull ups diapers. That was pretty much a bust, because even though he could independently put on and take off his own diapers, he was not getting the reason of why he needed to. They still felt like diapers, so to him they were. Which also made this clean up even more messier. ugh!

I was very grateful that I had his paternal grandmother to help me in these efforts. We worked as a team to come up with ideas and ways to getting him potty trained. Now, every time he made a mess in his pull up, we always showed him to the potty to explain to him that’s where he needed to go instead. He did start using the potty once in a while, and he would tell us sometimes when he needed to go. What great progress! However, whenever I would start getting excited about his progression, he would revert to acting like he didn’t want to anymore. I gave up sometimes and then when he started showing interest again then we would start back up. I just didn’t want to force it onto him, especially if he wasn’t ready.

We tried many ways to encourage and remind him. One of my tactics was keeping track of how many times he used the potty with a sticker board. He was obsessed with the Cars movie at the time, so I got a whole booklet of Cars movie stickers to put on his board. It worked only for a short time, before he gave up. Then, I tried giving him a small treat or toy whenever he went in the potty, and just like everything else, that fun faded as well. Then, at one point Huggies used to have potty training watches come in the box of pull ups. The watch had the Cars movie theme on it. He was excited, it would go off every few minutes asking whether he needed to go potty. This was working really well until the watch stopped working, then we got a new one from the next box of pull ups. Once he got the new watch, he was over the idea. He started ignoring his beeps and kept breaking them…The frustration.

We tried many tactics to get this mission completed, but we kept running into issues. When we felt like the pull ups were probably too similar to diapers, we thought we would try actual underwear. It worked sometimes and then other times, we just had a big mess on our…floors. That got old real quick for me. Our other tactic was using his older niece to help observe and watch the signs of needing to go potty. The ultimate sign that he needed to go was when he was hiding behind the sofas. We would ask him if he needed to go and then we would try to rush him to the potty. His niece did help out a lot actually, but every try lead us to a dead end.

This point in the process, I didn’t want to give up on his potty training, because he was creeping up to his fourth birthday. I was not trying to have a 4 year old still in diapers. However, we were at our last stage – let him decide on his own. It was that one moment where my son walks up to me and says, “Mommy, change me”, and throws himself down on the floor, smiling while having his arms crossed behind his head. What the hell! He KNOWS how to go potty, but now he is just CHOOSING not to! Oh, now I was definitely over it! I felt completely defeated at this point. So, I completely gave up. His grandmother kept asking me when I was going to try again, and I would nonchalantly respond, “I don’t know”..

A month passes, it’ s almost his fourth birthday and he’s still in diapers. Then, my son walks up to me and says, “Potty mommy”. Then, he walks right into the bathroom on his own and goes on the potty all by himself. I was super proud, yet very reluctant due to our past trials. However, he continued to go to the potty on his own from that day on. I was extremely excited and proud. I was also feeling like I just got fooled by my 3 year old. I knew that he knew how to do it, he just didn’t want to. Once, I quit pushing him to do it, he just decided on his own to start doing it by himself.

Can you see why this was a nightmare? Only advice I have is don’t push too hard, always encourage and they will do it when they are ready. If I could do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t really change a thing, other than not starting too soon and not listening to that woman about how her granddaughter got potty trained at 18 months. All children are different, they go their own pace and it’s honestly not worth the headache. I’m sure those parents who are dealing with this stage can relate to this experience. For those that don’t have children in this stage anymore can THANK THEIR LUCKY STARS!!


Written by J. Marie

Founder/Owner, Perfectly Imperfect Parents - Single Mom . Blogger . Photographer . Bar Marketing Manager and Bartender . Artist of Frame Design . Part-Time Student to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

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