9 Potty Training Activities That Helped Train My 3 1/2 Year Old
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Don’t judge me and my potty training activities. My son was not potty trained until he was just over 3 1/2 years old. That is a long time to change diapers, in my opinion!
But alas, when all seemed lost, it was possible to potty train the little rebel.
But it wasn’t easy.
For many months I heard opinions from all different angles. Yes, I knew it was about the time for a normal kid to be potty trained, but I also knew that each toddler is different.
That’s when I realized that my son wasn’t ready to be potty trained. So for at least 4 months, I backed off before diving in again.
And that’s when everything clicked. My son was starting to notice all of the stories, heart-to-heart talks, YouTube videos, toys and other potty training activities that brought us to this point. And in the end, every single one of these was well worth the investment, whether it was time or money.
So, let’s dive in and talk about the 10 potty training activities that helped me potty train my son once and for all.
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10 Potty Training Activities for Kids
Kids need help understanding potty training. In their little minds, sitting on the potty when they could be playing or making a mess just doesn’t make sense. That’s why it’s crucial that we help children learn to appreciate potty training activities – because changing diapers isn’t exactly fun for them either.
These potty training activities and products are ordered from most to least helpful and I explain how each one played a part in our daily potty training lessons.
1. Frog Urinal
Yes, you read that right. If you’re trying to potty train your little boy, buy a plastic urinal. For less than $10 each, I “invested” in one of the best potty training activities for boys that possibly exists – target practice. Apparently, peeing in the “adult potty” is just not nearly as exciting as peeing into the throat of a wide mouth frog to make the tongue spin (sounds gross, I know, but you need to see it to truly appreciate this one).
2. Potty Chair
I also purchased a nice little potty chair for our son. It’s perfect for girls too. This helped with the “pooping stage,” plus it was mobile and I could keep an eye on my son as he “tried” to go. But here’s the catch. Try to avoid setting your child on the potty for extensive periods of time. I found that the less time my son spent sitting on the pot, the less he hated the deed.
3. Positive Rewards
Positivity and reward was crucial in the final stages of potty training my son. For a short period of time, I promised my son two M&Ms if he peed in the potty and three if he pooped. He just loved getting his M&Ms. I think it was more than the little bit of chocolate – it was the fact that he felt rewarded for doing the right thing. Though if potty training takes more than a few weeks, perhaps sugar is not the best reward. Try little plastic toys or better yet, surprise eggs!
4. YouTube Videos
Potty training all clicked with my son when he started watching Nina Needs to Go on YouTube. In fact, after watching just a few episodes, he was running to the bathroom to pee saying the show’s motto, “Don’t wait to go.” I was amazed to see how cartoons could really help my son learn to go to the bathroom.
Similar to videos, potty training stories also help children learn to use the toilet. A favorite in our household was A Potty for Me by Karen Katz. I started reading this book to my son long before it was time to potty train. By the time he was ready to learn, he was reciting the book himself, page by page. Yes, reading really can teach kids to use the potty!
6. Big Boy Cups
This was a hard habit to break. My son loved his tall no-spill sippy cups filled 2/3 with water and 1/3 with apple juice. In fact, I loved them too. But these cups made it far too easy for him to drink all day every day. He was peeing more times than I could keep up with in order to properly potty train! So when I switched him over to open toddler cups, he was no longer carrying around a sippy all day long. He learned to drink when he’s thirsty and not just when a sippy is conveniently in his hand.
7. New Pull-ups / New Undies
Kids are enamored with new things – when they’re older, they even notice when the prints on their diapers change. That’s when I realized that purchasing “fun” pull-ups and then underwear was a must. Be sure to choose a character that your son or daughter loves – or better yet, let your toddler choose. Then remind your child not to pee on his/her friends!
8. Potty Time Watch
The potty watch worked fast, but sadly I lost momentum when we went on a 10-day vacation out of state. But here is how I know it works. The first day I decided to pull out this Christmas gift and dust it off, my son was already running to the potty every 15 minutes! It literally worked that quickly! I then changed the setting to 30-minute reminders then finally to 60-minute reminders. Had I stuck to it through vacation, the potty watch would definitely be at the top of this list.
9. Potty Talks
Every so often I had to have some heart-to-heart talks with my son. I needed to understand him and find out if he was ready to potty train. Now, before you get the wrong idea, I don’t allow my son to run this household. But when attempting to potty train a child before they are ready to do so, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So have those talks and remind your kiddo why it’s important to obey and use the potty.
10. Get Others On Board
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have your spouse, mother-in-law, older children, etc. on board with potty training. If you do this alone and then hand your child over to be taken care of by another for a few hours, your work can be undone quickly. Thankfully I had my son full-time at home potty training aside from visits to his grandparents’ house. As long as I stayed consistent, he couldn’t help but learn.
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The Potty Training Problems Will Pass
Potty training is not as hard as it sounds. Yes, some days you will want to pull your hair out and throw in the towel. But at the end of the day, you can rest assured that your son or daughter won’t be wearing a diaper in 6th grade. In other words, keep at it momma, you can do this!