I tried to potty train my son at various stages, and it never worked. I finally adopted the attitude that he would eventually “train” himself, or let me know when he was ready. Days passed. Weeks. Months. He was almost three. I got pregnant with my second. The notion of two in diapers began to overwhelm me. Something had to give.
He showed all the signs of being ready. He slept through nap time and night time, waking up dry. He liked “big boy” underwear. He knew when he was pooping and peeing. What he needed was motivation.
I didn’t set out to be a parent who used bribes. My counselor even told me about how she used a reward system of toys with her son, but I wasn’t so sure about the idea. I could see my son just grabbing a bag of toys and running away, naked.
One night, after changing yet another diaper, I concocted a plan. Now, there are potty fairies on the internet but I swear mine came to me independently (I only discovered the potty fairy books, which I have not read, after inventing my own fairy and then googling pictures to show my son).
Not long ago, Jett woke up super excited to see what the Easter bunny had left him. This inspired me to create a character that he could get excited about for potty time. I also liked the idea of a fairy rewarding him, not me.
I decided that the fairy would leave a few gifts just to welcome him to the club, and then a bin of small toys with instructions on a sign. I knew Jett would need accountability, and he loves signs (he always asks me what they say).
The night before the fairy came, I told my son that when big boys and girls are ready to use the potty, the potty fairy visits the smallest potty in the house. She leaves gifts, and toys to earn. I looked up pictures on my phone to show him what the potty fairy might look like, but I told him that she’s very fast so it’s hard to know exactly. He was pumped!
The next morning he ran to his little potty. There were packages of underwear, socks, and even a new hat. Then he saw the bin of toys! I read him the sign that said, “Jett is now a big boy! When he pees he gets one toy. When He poops he gets two toys. Learn to potty and enjoy!”
I can’t even tell you how many times he peed in the potty that first day. He was amazed! He spent a long time going through the potty fairy bin and choosing each toy. When he pooped and was allowed to choose two toys it was like Christmas. I was almost worried that he was forcing himself to go. The fairy worked too well.
He had zero accidents the first day, and only used the potty (no diapers). By day two he wasn’t forcing himself to go. Things evened out. He still wanted the toys, and went on the potty, but he wasn’t obsessing over the fairy.
On days three, four, and five he kept going strong with no accidents. We never even used diapers or pull ups at snooze time. He forgot to ask for a toy about half the time. We started leaving the house, and he peed in public with a small, fold up seat that goes on top of big potties.
He did start a bit of potty resistance, and has brought up diapers a few times. We just reminded him that he was doing a wonderful job learning to use the potty, that the potty fairy knew he was ready, and that we would be patient with him.
It’s been a week now without diapers, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself to say that he’s “potty trained,” or done “potty learning.”
I think that this method worked for us because it consisted of things he loves: holidays, socks, stories, a rhyme, and toys that are interactive (like play dough). I’m not saying the potty fairy is right for everyone, but I am saying that when I got creative and stepped outside my box a little bit to cater to what my son valued, I had pretty much immediate success in an area where I had struggled for 11 months.