Warning: The contents of this post might be a little graphic if you have no kids. If you are easily squeamish of bodily functions or prone to giggling out loud of embarrassment, this might not be the post for you.
A couple of months ago, I talked about being freaked out by potty-training my daughter. I'd heard my fair share of horror stories, and was not all looking forward to the possibility that my little girl would be adding to those. Right before Christmas, however, we just went for it. We hunkered down for a couple days, and, lo and behold, it was success!! I couldn't believe it. So, in the spirit of fatherhood...er, brotherhood, I wanted to share what worked for us (and what didn't), cuz, as the amazing father GI Joe said, "Knowing is half the battle!"
We did a few things to prep on the front end. I mentioned here that we got a Dora the Explorer potty to go on top of our normal toilet, which got her excited. We actually didn't buy the small potty to put in the kitchen - just stayed with the add-on. We also bought some underwear and showed that to her ahead of time, as well as borrowed some books from our neighborhood library about going to the potty. We bought an Elmo potty training book that had a chart in it, which we taped up in our main bathroom for Caylah to put a sticker on whenever she at least tried to go potty.
Our neighbor happens to be a child behavior analyst, so she actually had a schedule that she's used on her clients, but it was pretty much a carbon copy of what's in this book. Here's the deal with the schedule. It's intense, but stick with it. Dads, if you work, do it over a weekend or take some time off during the week, or else your wife will go nuts trying to do it on her own, and you definitely don't want to come home to that. Or, if you're a SAHD (and especially if you're as results-oriented as I am), you'll want to have your wife there. You pretty much don't leave the bathroom for at least the first half day.
But here's the best thing we did during this process. Admittedly, it started as a fluke. My wife threw something out about a "potty fairy" that was going to come visit our house the night before we started. We hadn't talked about anything like that, but I guarantee you it was the Lord speaking through my wife, because that got our daughter so excited to use the potty. We had a little box of small trinkets that Caylah could choose from if she actually went, not just sat on the potty, that the potty fairy had left for her. And on Day 2, the potty fairy came back to refill the gift box, and really wanted her to stay dry. If y'all don't mind bringing imaginary beings into your house (i.e., if you're doing Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc), this is a great one to add!
Finally, a couple of tips. First, there will be accidents. And it's ok. We still have accidents every once in a while. It's not at all telling about your ability to potty-train. It's a process. Second, stick with it. It will be frustrating, but coming from someone who's on the other side, the process is worth it. Lastly, encourage, encourage, encourage. It's tough not to get completely exasperated when there's a massive puddle on the carpet, but that positive reinforcement will go so much further than getting visibly upset at them. It was tough for me to separate getting mad at the action from getting mad at her, but it's crucial to the success of potty-training.
If you're about to dive into potty-training your own son or daughter, I hope this helps. If you've already gone through it, I'd love to hear some tips from you.
What else worked for you? What didn't work for your process?