Monday, June 1, 2009

Potty Training 2.0

This post is a bit long. You might want to read it when you're sitting on the potty (and plan to sit for a little while).


One of the enjoyable aspects of having two (soon to be three) children is the uniqueness of their development.

If you read books, you might get the impression that child development is very linear:

"At 6 months they should be able to make a tower of 3 cubes. At 9 months they should be able to make a tower of 4 cubes. Etc, etc."

The reality is that child development is discrete. All of a sudden, they can do something they weren't able to do the day before:

"Yesterday Big Brother couldn't tie his shoes. Today, he can tie his shoes and charge $500 from to Dad-E's credit card." (he didn't)

After a fair amount of initial anxiety, Mom-E and I decided that as long as the boys continue to make progress and "do new things" (and their pediatrician thinks they're doing okay), who cares whether they walk at 12 months or 12.5 months, etc.

In fact, "pushing" your child can have adverse effects. Mom-E and I probably tried to "encourage" Big Brother's walking too much. This probably contributed to him being a "closet walker" (i.e., he could walk, but didn't want others to know that he could.)


And with that background, on to potty training 1.0.

Big Brother was potty trained just after he turned 3, when Little Brother was just a few months old.

He started showing a little interest in the potty just before Little Brother was born. We figured that if we made a big effort to potty train him then, he'd just regress after Little Brother came along.

Big Brother was potty trained using the "shotgun" approach. (No, it didn't involve weapons or threats.)

One weekend, we told Big Brother, "You're 3. You're a big boy now. Big boys don't wear diapers. They wear big boy underwear."

And so, he and I gathered up all of the diapers in the house, put them in a trash bag, and threw them away in the dumpster (and I later recovered them for storage until Little Brother needed them, unbeknowst to Big Brother.)

We had bought Big Brother about 15 pairs of underwear with his favorite characters: Thomas, Bob the Builder, and Spiderman. We told him, "Your job is to keep your underwear dry."

And then we gave him unlimited access to fluids, if not "pushed" fluids on him.

Those of you who are regular readers of the blog are already laughing, as sometimes Big Brother has to pee 6 times in an hour even when he hasn't had anything to drink.

Well, Big Brother was initially afriad to "let go" of the pee-pee into the potty (he screamed so loud that we were afraid we'd inflicted permanent psychological damage.)

But he also didn't like wet pants.

And so, when he did "let go" in the potty, he liked the praise and cheers and stickers and treats A LOT. It worked.

Just like much of child development, potty training Big Brother was quite discrete (just not the part about having the whole family in the bathroom at the same time). Within the weekend, he was pretty much using the potty during the day without accident (or at least only minor dribbles.)

Nights were another story for our heavy sleeper. We decided to forgo pull-ups in favor of an extra load of laundry, as to not "confuse him." But that's for another post.


Fast forward now to the present day.

Just last weekend, Little Brother started showing an interest in potty training. And not just an "I want to stick my hand in the potty and swirl it around" kind of interest.

This is one of the nice things about having several children. The younger ones look up to the older ones, and want to copy them (at least it's a nice thing when we're talking about good behaviors.)

"My Big Brother goes potty, so I want to go potty," says Little Brother.
(Okay, not his exact words, because if they were, he'd be on tv somewhere.)

This is amazing to Mom-E and I for two main reasons:
1. He's only 18 months old, and let's face it, boys are usually a little "slower" to potty train than girls (or dogs for that matter.)

2. We're expecting child #3, and only having 1 child in diapers would be SWEET!

What's even more amazing to us is that Little Brother has not only the interest, but the ability to tell us that he's got to go potty.

Last weekend, he did just that and actually peed in the toilet 2 or 3 times. He was very proud of himself.

Thank you, Elmo potty seat!

The funniest part of when he goes potty (besides the fact that it looks like the potty could swallow him whole), is that he repeatedly asks for toilet paper while sitting. He points to the paper and exclaims, "Wash! Wash!", and proceeds to drop it into the potty (without it touching anything). Where he came up with "wash" we have no idea.

Hopefully, potty training 2.0 will be completed before Bab-E comes along.

Okay, I've been typing for a while, and now I have to pee.

Have a good week,


  1. Good luck! I hope all goes smooth and dry. One at a time in diapers is more than enough.

  2. Congrats on a great start. I foresee successful potty training as one of the greatest milestones in my life as a father. I already know it will be a great day.

  3. Potty training Little Brother at 18 months! Wow! Congrats! And yes, I was laughing through most of this post. Potty training was not one of my most favorite memories from my girls' childhoods, especially since The Oldest regressed after The Youngest was born. Good luck!

  4. I'm sure little brother is going to be successfully potty trained before bab-e arrives! Great start!

  5. That is very impressive that Little Brother is so quick with the potty training. In about 14 months, i'd like for him to come hang out with Little Cousin and show him how its done! Aunt-E