How I Accidentally Potty Trained My Son

Disclaimer: I am not a professional. This is not a how-to or advice piece. It is simply our crazy adventure with this major toddler milestone. 

Potty training.

I dreaded it.

Like many of you, I belong to a couple online parenting groups. And, I heard the horror stories.

The really scary ones!


So like with any big parenting decision, I got the books. I researched until I felt comfortable with the whole idea. I read blogs and PT-expert books. And by the end, I had a plan, and I was excited. There seemed to be 3 stages: accidents, learning potty cues, and then lightbulb moment. Thus resulting in a potty trained child. 

I bought and gathered all the supplies I would need (cleaning supplies, little potty, etc.), hid them in the closet, and waited for PT-day.

Now before I tell you about that first PT day, let me back up a little. I had wanted to start the process earlier and my husband was supportive, but since we were in the middle of moving, we decided to wait. But, boy, did we talk about it.

“When you’re a big boy like daddy, #1 goes in the toilet, not in your diaper.”

And following the ways of another blogger, I had started putting my son on the toilet at a young age whenever his face strained and I knew a #2 was on the way—Because first of all, stinky diapers. Gross. I hate changing them. And secondly, I heard many kids have problems learning the ways of #2 potty training so why not start now?

I knew it was time to start the rest of the potty training process when his face would start to strain, he would look at me, and we’d run to the toilet (mind you, he’s still in diapers at this point).

The big day arrived: potty training day #1. I gave the big speech about being a big boy and that today was the day to learn how to go potty on the toilet. We pulled out all the PT gear from the closet and commenced.

The book I had read said not to prompt so that the child starts to feel the urge and understands that means he or she is going. I assumed that meant a lot of accidents, so I was prepared with cleaning supplies at hand.  

So, I didn’t prompt. I just placed the little potty nearby as we played, explaining that if he needed to go, that’s where he could go. Not actually expecting him to because, you know, the book said so.

But, guess what?

When it came time to go, he just went over to the potty and went.

I thought it must be the novelty of the new little toilet.

But, no. It happened ALL day long!

No prompting. No accidents.

And the next day, the same thing!

Instead of being elated, I was disappointed. After preparing and worrying, this was going to be my our story?

After several days of successful PT, we accompanied my husband on his business road trip to Augusta.

Now, in general, public toilets are scary, no matter your age. But I had gotten around that hurdle by pure bribery.

“Yes, son, the toilet does look and sound different than our toilet at home, but after you go potty, then we can have a fruit snack.”

I’m not proud of my bribing ways, but it was working for us.

While in Augusta, we ate at an Italian restaurant. Our practice had been, whenever we arrive somewhere, first we go potty, then we continue on whatever activity. This time my son wanted to go with his daddy to the toilet.

When he came back to the table, his eyes were red and puffy. He crawled into my lap whimpering. I held him tight.

“What’s wrong, son?”

No answer. Just soft crying.

The server came. We put in our order, and I turned to my husband.

“What happened?” I asked.

“He was scared of the toilet.”

That’s when I realized I had not let my husband privy to the PT-public-toilet bribery plan.

“You mean, he didn’t go…”

Suddenly, I felt it. Warmth spread down my lap.

I ran to the toilet, holding my son, screaming, “Hold it! Hold it!”

But it was too late. By the time we got there, there was barely a dribble left.

Fortunately, in PT anticipation, I had packed an extra outfit in my purse for my son. Unfortunately for me, I had not packed one for myself.

I finally had my own PT horror story.

What I learned from all this, is yes, PT is hard. Every child responds to it differently. Did I accidentally potty train him? Maybe. But like anything in life, PT is a process. And like all things in parenting, attitude is everything!

Are you reading this a soon-to-be-PT parent? Don’t fear the horror stories parents love to tell. Prepare yourself and embrace the moment. This is just another milestone. And you know they keep coming faster and faster. Soon that toddler will truly be a big kid. And, you’ll probably even get a fun story through the process.


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