Potty Training: Ready Set Go

Back in July last year I wrote about ‘The poop monster‘ where Aviana wanted to sit on the potty.  We decided several months later to try potty training at 22mths.  Aviana had shown a lot of interest so we bought a book called “Ready Set Go: A gentle parenting guide to calmer, quicker potty training” by Sarah Ockwell-Smith author of ‘gentle parenting’, we geeked up and decided to give it a go.  Half way though day 2 we realised Aviana wasn’t being herself and she actually fell sick so we decided to stop the potty training.  Since then there hasn’t really been a good time to start the potty training – work travels, vacations and a new school have delayed us starting.  But we finally planned it for the Presidents day weekend!

Ready, Set, Go focuses on the importance of readiness and the parents role to gently guide and the lead the way at a ‘mindful pace’, it’s the children who are in the driver’s seat.  The book is based on four principles:

Teamwork: Gentle potty training is based on the connection between parent and child

Compassion: gentle potty training is considerate of the child’s needs and feelings.  There is no punishment or chastising.

Being informed: gentle potty training is based on scientific knowledge and is as evidence-based as possible

No rewards: gentle potty training is achieved without chocolate candies, stickers or heaped-on praise.

Sounds ideal?  She doesn’t promise that your child will be dry in a week, but that it will be stress free.  And our experience has been just that thus far.

Pre P-Day (AKA Potty-Day)

The book explains the importance of talking to your child about what it is going to happen – no surprises – before you actually begin the potty training.  We taught Aviana the correct words for her body parts and encouraged her to come into the toilet with us to pee and poop.  We explained what it all meant and why we were doing it.  We did this over a period of months.  The day before P-Day I took Aviana to pick out her own underwear (even though the first time we did potty training we had bought a whole bunch, we still let her pick her own).  She picked out Moana underwear – of course the most expensive ones! We bought two different types of potties.  One that was a mini version of a toilet (Summer Infant Potty My Size) and one which converted into a step stool (Munchkin Arm and Hammer multi stage potty).  We also bought a toilet seat converter (Baby bjorn potty seat).  We had options!  The other thing we did include potty training proofing our furniture.  We used puppy training pads and waterproof picnic blankets on the sofas.  We removed some of the rugs to make it easier because we have hardwood floors so there was no worries about her peeing on the floor.  The night before we told Aviana we were going to throw away her pull ups and she was going to wear her new underwear.


We chose a long weekend to start so on the saturday morning we got Aviana up and made her throw her pull ups away (but not her night time nappies/diapers because she we aren’t ready yet to throw those away!).  She was excited to start potty training.  On day 1 the book says the child should not wear any underwear and must go bare bottom for at least a day to allow the focus on feeling what happens when they do go and not go in the potty.   The book highlights the importance of the parents confidence.  This time around I felt very confident Aviana was ready and could do this.  We asked Aviana to tell us where she wanted the potty in her play room.  She put it in a certain place and was happy about that.

The hard but good thing about this potty training method is no rewards.  It states that if your child is ready, there is no need for a reward, ever.  In addition it calls for not heaping on the superficial praise, rather provide effort based, specific and descriptive praise.  Eg. “I guess you didn’t need to poo after all, but sitting there waiting for a poo to come was a great idea” or “I saw that you took yourself to the potty when you need to pee; that made me really proud that you listened to your body” or “wow that’s a big poo.  I can see some of the corn you had for dinner yesterday in it: can you?”  admittedly it’s hard to not use excessive praise because really I was genuinely excited when Aviana did get her pee and poop in the potty!  So yes, we did give her some well dones…but used these types of praise and statements as well.  It effectively ‘normalised’ her actions.

Of course the book also describes what to do when the child does have an accident….stay absolutely calm!!!! OK easier said than done.  But being prepared for accidents made it easier to stay clam as well as understanding how normal it is to have accidents frequently.  Especially in the first few days being part of the process.  “Next time you will know to go a bit earlier and we will get it in the potty!” Inviting the child to clean up their accident without talking about it being a mess or dirty to prevent shame.  I actually found this to be relatively helpful and keep me calm.

The book is a little confusing on to how much you remind/prompt your child to go to the potty.  It makes it sound really easy like your child will always sit on the potty whenever you suggest it’s time.  Aviana really DID NOT want to sit on the potty whenever we suggested it, and we can’t force her to sit on it or even bribe her.  So for example, the book suggests prompting/reminding every hour or 20 minutes after a large drink.  It was really hard to get the balance right.  But we had to trust the process and not bug her by telling her every 5 minutes she should go.  It was also our duty to spot when she wanted to go but perhaps wasn’t thinking about going so we could help her get to the potty.  She definitely has a little potty dance.

We decided to not put a diaper/pull up on for naps because she has been waking up from her naps dry for quite some time now.  She was a trooper and did not wet the bed!  Winner!

Day 1 the book expects most on the floor, not in the potty.  Well day 1 was awesome…Aviana had just 3 accidents, 7 pees and a poop in the potty.  Most of those she even took herself and didn’t need reminding.  It looks like she had remembered from her previous first start of potty training.  She knew just what to do.

We went to bed feeling pretty chuffed – may be it would be easier than we ever thought!

P-Day + 1

This was a little more of a stressful day.  Perhaps being stuck in doors for 2 days in a row didn’t help and we had used up most of the exciting new activities the previous day!  Never the less…we had several accidents.  One on the sofa that seemed to be purposeful, and of course she did it right in between the waterproof covers we had placed on the sofa!  We thought as it was going well in the morning to put her in underwear…that was when it felt like we were going backwards and maybe had introduced underwear too soon.   I was also starting to feel like I had a cold coming with a very runny nose. I was feeling disheartened, I worried we had blown it, until the last pee of the night she took herself and was perfect.

The book states a 60/40 floor/potty ratio for the second day…we were falling a little short on that ratio, but at least the poop was in the potty!

p-Day + 2

Chris went back to work, but I had the day off with Aviana for presidents day.  The third day is supposed to be another day inside close to the potty!  I really was beginning to go a bit stir crazy from being stuck indoors and I think Aviana was feeling the same.  I also started to get a fever with chills in the afternoon, it looked like my cold was turning into a sinus infection.  gross.  I turned to the help of my facebook mom group for ideas on keeping a toddler busy indoors and was reinvigorated to keep going with some fun things to do – we even baked some biscuits.

The book states to expect on day 3 a 50/50 floor-potty ratio.  In general, the day was much better than the previous with just 1 accident and 4 wees in the potty.  But no poop to be seen.  She was clearly a little constipated as she attempted to poo several times.  Aviana was doing awesome.  I however was feeling ROUGH and needed my bed!

p-Day + 3

I woke up feeling very sick after a rough night’s sleep.  I called in sick at work.  We sent Aviana into school with several changes of clothes and shoes.  Just as well because she came home with three sets of dirty clothes after her accidents, including a poop in the pants.  Whoops!  However, the teachers did say she had been taking herself to the potty on occasion.

p-Day + 4

Aviana woke up with a temperature and clearly had caught whatever I had.  So there we were both of us at home, ill.  Chris took the day off work to look after us both.  We thought potty training would go out of the window but overall she did really well.  We had a shower together and she pooped right at the end in the shower.  It was gross and we were rather surprised it seem to come from no where!  Luckily it didn’t get washed down the drain and was easy to clean up.

After several days of a temperature we took Aviana to urgent care and it turned out she had the flu….so I must have had the flu too.  But our symptoms weren’t so bad so I didn’t believe we had the flu, however, we both had the vaccine so we were probably fighting it.  Chris managed to avoid it completely!  So we survived the flu and potty training.

By Day 7 Aviana had managed her first day completely dry with no accidents!  The book suggests day 7-14 will be a 10/90 ratio of floor/potty, and will continue for a month or two with the odd accident common for the first year.

As soon as Aviana went back to school we worried she would regress, but she had just one poop accident on her day back….it is likely this will happen for a little while longer whilst she figures out the pooping thing and how comfortable she is pooping at school.

We have even left the house and taken our foldable potty seat (it’s a pink owl shape!) with us and she has peed in public toilets. Whoo hoo!!!

Night time potty training will come something up to a year later when Aviana is physically able to hold her pee through the night (around 3-4yrs old).  We won’t be in a rush to night time train and we decided we won’t be doing the method of waking her up in the middle of the night thing.  We will follow her lead on that.

Was it gentle potty training? Yes, absolutely.  Was it easy? Well it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

We have to remember that our job isn’t over yet and she is still learning to understand her body, so it’s not over quite yet 🙂




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