10 Stages of Potty Training (Not Approved by Dr. Sears)


Potty training was not really something I was too excited about tackling. I mean from sitting on the floor of a bathroom reading the same book over and over again to experiencing the look of horror when you realize there is no bathroom around and your kid just mentioned (loudly) he needed to poop– I would much rather leave Flynn in some cloth (and occasionally disposable) diapers for life. It’s cheap, easy and a heck of a lot cleaner than any public restroom I have ever encountered.


However, Flynn decided that sitting in his urine wasn’t really his bag. And so we have been thrown in to the world of potty training. During this time, I have realized that potty training occurs in stages. Some which were a wonderful experience and some not so great. Below you will find the stages of potty training. These are not real stages. And not endorsed by Dr. Sears, or any doctor for that matter, but I have lived these stages (or am prepping for them) and figured some other poor mother out there who likes to stunt their child’s growth avoid public restrooms may want a heads up.

Stage 1. Excitement. Or maybe we can call this impressed. Your child is in the bathroom with you because you really needed to pee and the last time you left him to pee he ended up with hair lotion all over his face and hands. While peeing, your toddler says he would also like to pee on the potty. You think this is cute. You hold your kid over the potty and he pees. OH WOW! Flynn just peed in the potty! You call Dad at work. You sing a potty song. You are like Damn my 18 month old is so ADVANCED. You go out and buy a potty.

This game is going to be fun.

This game is going to be fun.

2. Stall Tactics. (Get it stall…like a bathroom. Ok I’m done) Your oh so impressive toddler decides that using the potty is only fun to do when mom is super busy or nursing the baby. He has peed in his diaper three times already this morning, but as soon as you sit down to feed the babe “POTTTTY”. You don’t want to be a horrible mother and tell your kid to pee in his diaper. I mean hell you’d feel like complete and utter crap if your kid never potty trains due to you telling him to pee in his diaper. So you stop what you are doing and go to put the kid on the potty. Except he runs away like it is some game of potty tag. Rules for potty tag: Yell potty and then run away from your mom. Another common theme during this phase is to love to potty only at night. Right before bed. Thirty minutes and sixty stories later your kid poops and all you can wish for are the days of diapers.


3. Avoidance. Similar to stall tactics except now you are the one avoiding the potty at all cost. Mom I have to pee. Great, Flynn. That’s what diapers are for.


4. Guilt. Ah the good old fashion mom guilt. You didn’t think potty training would leave this one out. You feel bad that you are hindering your child’s development and have repeatedly told your child to just pee in their diaper because you didn’t feel like reading Mater’s Birthday Surprise 13x straight. After a few texting conversations with your sister, who fears for the development of your child, you buy another potty and maybe some Lightening McQueen underwear and decide you are going to do this thing and let your kid potty train.


5. Obsession. You set timers. You plop your kid on the potty right before and right after naps. You ask your child twenty seven times an hour if they have to pee. When your kid runs to their favorite pooping hiding spot, you chase them down and force them on the nearest child-sized potty seat. Your kid is sometimes into it, especially at 2 in the morning, but more often than not decides he rather pee his diaper or pants than stop pushing some Thomas train around a track.


6. Bribery. Enter the bribes. You started this thing and you sure as hell are going to finish it. You tell your kid if they sit on the potty, they can have some not so healthy snack. Thanks to our good friend the Easter Bunny, you have some jelly beans on hand. You tell your kid they can have three jellybeans if they pee. Heck, five if they poop. You question this tactic, but it is working and you haven’t had to change a diaper in days so you go with it. You may be worrying that you are harming your kid by filling him up with dye-filled sugar laced with not so healthy ingredients. You google “potty training dr. sears”, but then decide to just accept it and just hide some extra spinach his grilled cheese tomorrow.

7.  Negotiating. Yea so it goes here. In the negotiating phase, your toddler will begin to negotiate bowel movements for bowls of candy. Your kid starts asking for jelly beans all day long. You tell him no and try to avoid giving it when they potty. Your kid starts saying if I pee can I have 3 jellybeans while making his way to the new potty you added to the mix to prevent having to lug your kid around the house quickly. A typical conversation may sound like this:

Flynn: Snack, mom, Snack.

Mom: Want some yogurt?


Mom: Oh, a big snack. How about some grapes? A piece of cheese?

Flynn: (Moves and points to hidden bowl of Easter Candy.)

Mom: No not right now, Flynn.

Flynn: Potty? Potty for five M&Ms? (Note here that Flynn does know the difference between 3, 5 or 10. He just thinks you are supposed to add numbers to this game. He’s math may be skewed some day due to this fact, but I am hoping his kindergarten teacher can deal with this in a few years).

This phase is not unique to Flynn as he has guidance from an older, much wiser cousin who likes to negotiate poops for full bags of M&Ms. Thankfully, this much older, wiser cousin (who does know the difference between 3 and 5) has successful outgrown this phase without any real damage.

If I pee on the potty, can I have a cupcake?

8. Accidents. It is in this phase, you start thinking your kid has this potty business down. Haven’t really had to change any diapers and annoyingly the kid is waking up at night telling you he has to pee.  You put away the diapers and dress your lovely, adorable, toddler in their cutest Cars/Barbie/Mickey/Elmo/Insert Other Annoying Character undies that make you gag. You figure they are ready for this step – diapers have been dry, he asks to use the potty often, even uses the bathroom at night or in public.  Well, you thought wrong. Your kid will for some reason no longer tell you they have to pee or will revert to finding their favorite secret spot in the house to take a good, old, poop. Apparently it is bigger burden to stop dropping marbles down some plastic maze and pee in the potty than changing your entire outfit after you peed yourself. During this phase, I recommend a good rug cleaner and wearing as little clothes as possible. Or perhaps throwing your kid back in a diaper and starting over at step 3.

Why stop walking around with a bucket on my head, when I can just pee my pants?

Why stop walking around with a bucket on my head, when I can just pee my pants?

9. Public. Oh lord. This is the phase where you take this training public. You throw your kid in their adorable Boden boxer briefs that you purchased because you were tired of seeing Thomas on your kid’s ass and venture off to some public arena. During this phase stuffing your diaper bag with extra hand sanitizer and if you are smart some toilet paper, a mask and a full hazmat suit in both a 2T and adult size is a good idea. Two minutes upon arriving at the public arena, your toddler alerts you that they have to go the bathroom.  Number two. Really bad. You rush to the nearest bathroom. Put on your gloves, hazmat suit, some paper on the toilet, and just as you are about to put your toddler on the toilet you realize you’re just a few minutes too late. You don’t have a change of pants. or underwear. You end up leaving the bathroom with a screaming toddler whose wearing a diaper fit for a 6 month old and a pair of leggings that say 12 months and curse the people who told you how great it is to have your toddler be diaper free.

10. Completion. Kinda. This is the phase we all hope exists and to encounter at some point. Although don’t kid yourself – this phase comes with its own challenges. Or at least dirty looks. Like when your kid learns to drop his own underwear and pee on trees, in grass or over sand. Or loudly yells Poopie while standing in the kiddie pool. Or asks to use your cup to pee in front of the other mothers at the playground because you taught him to pee in a cup during long drives. One positive note about this phase, if you make it to this phase, is at least now the kindergarten teacher only has to deal with the fact that your kid has a skewed number sense and doesn’t know the difference between 3 and 5.

So there you have it folks. Potty training Steps 1-10. If you are mom, whose really ready to get your kid of out diapers. Relax a minute. Enjoy the fact that child’s bowel movements are not a ticking time bomb that can ruin a perfectly good experience in an instant. If you are mom suffering through any of these phases, my advice to you is do not fear Phase 3. It is okay to go back and visit that phase at any moment. Huggies will thank you for your continued support. And your carpet will thank you as well.












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