Secret Survival Tricks for Potty Training Boys

Melissa Roja Lawlor
Dec. 11, 2012

One mom shares why you shouldn't fear this parental rite of passage as part of the Interview Series

In some cases, fears of potty training -- like getting poop and pee everywhere -- become reality. At least that's what Kirsten Oliphant can attest to. After potty training two boys, the author of the alternative mom blog, I Still Hate Pickles, took a moment to share with us her experience, which included plenty of paper towels, air freshener, and a little MC Hammer in the background. See why Oliphant says you shouldn't be scared and what her secret is to getting pee out of the carpet.

Tell us about your family and your blog.
My family is overrun with boys: my husband, two boys (2 and 4), a dog and a beta fish. I was always a tomboy, so I fit right in with my dirty pants and bare feet. I'm currently pregnant, so in six months we'll find out if the balance will be tipped with another girl in the family or one more boy for the bunch. My blog is more than just a mommy blog -- I talk about everything from roller derby to my faith to humorous and random life stories. Also, poop.

How long did it take to potty train your children?
I would say that within a week they were both about 80% potty-trained during the day. I kept them both in diapers at night until they were dry for a week or so in a row--that was maybe 6 months or so later. It took a week, but felt more like a year. Within a month or two, I could relax a bit more and the accidents decreased.

What books/resources were most helpful to teaching potty training?
I really liked The Potty Trainer, an ebook you can buy online and print at home. That was pretty much the only thing I used besides advice from friends and prayer. Lots of prayer and also paper towels.

What was your biggest fear going into potty training?
My fear was poop and pee everywhere. That fear soon became reality. But it wasn't as bad as I thought.

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you before you started potty training?
Remove all rugs and wear rubber gloves. That and don't leave the house for a few days.

Anecdotes are often very helpful for those about to get started with potty training. What's the biggest mistake you feel you made while potty training your children?
This isn't really a mistake, but just a reality. With both boys, we found that at first, there was not a lot of lag time between when they realized they had to go and when they went. Which meant that often we would be on the back patio or worse, the grocery store, and there would be a sudden need for a bathroom, which we did not always reach in time. Once Lincoln said he needed to go, stripped off his underwear and started to run. He left a trail of poop through the house on the way to the toilet. Of course I blogged photos. Also, when Sawyer first pooped on the toilet, he shouted, "Look! I have a tail!"

Tell us about a time when you realized that you might have to change your strategy with potty training.
We like to start young--when the kids are around 2. Sawyer, our first, was ready right after he turned two. Lincoln took a few months. We tried for a week but he literally couldn't actually pee on the toilet. That week was great preparation, though, so we waited a few months and made sure to talk about potty a lot in that time. When we tried again at the end of a few months, he was able to actually use the toilet. A few months can make a huge difference!

How can you tell if your child is ready for potty training? See what the experts have to say »

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently with potty training?
As it often happens with second children, I think we sort of gave Lincoln the shaft. I forgot to keep as many stickers and small toys as rewards on hand. Now he probably has the dreaded second-child complex.

Can you offer any tips for parents about to begin the potty training process?
Don't be scared! Expect to have things smelly and poopy for a while--but that's okay! Stock up on paper towels and air freshener. Be positive and forget about your desire for cleanliness for a few days. It's not going to happen. We gave small, positive rewards that were not food--army men from the dollar store and stickers. We also got the boys excited about big-boy underwear and maybe sometimes played MC Hammer whenever the timer went off for potty time. Make it fun! Also, if your child happens to pee on the carpet, pour a huge pile of salt on the spot and wait twenty minutes or so. The salt will pull the urine right up and you can vacuum or scoop the salt out of the carpet.

Kirsten Oliphant is a mother of two (soon to be three!) and the author of the blog I Still Hate Pickles. She prefers to keep things interesting -- that includes climbing trees, figuring out parenting on the fly with her husband, and skating with Houston Roller Derby. You can find Kirsten on Facebook or Twitter.

For more potty training tips, visit our Interview Series: Potty Training Survival »

Photo used with permission from Kirsten Oliphant.

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