1. This is war. Your child's act of using the potty is the enemy, you are the good guy.
2. You cannot allow your opponent to detect any weakness. Therefore we have an ongoing persona of, go potty or don't, I could not care less.
3. Your best weapon is realistic expectations. My expectation is that my child will continue to not use the potty for a good two weeks, but will continue to do his business all over my house instead.
4. I continue using cloth diapers to clean up what just happened in number 3.
5. The child has to be ready. I was in the mood for potty training about three months too early with my fifth child, Rebecca, who was about 20 months old. After two weeks of her never once interacting with a potty, and everyone in my house was weeping and gnashing their teeth from constant accidents, I knew to stop and try again later.
6. Rebecca picked the absolute worst time to display that she was interested in some potty action: a few weeks before I was about to go out of town with my husband. She had just turned 2. I am sure it could have waited, but I decided to roll with it because a child might give you this teensy short window of opportunity where he is interested in going potty. I did not want to pass that up and have Rebecca cop a 'tude later. She is successfully potty trained now, although she still wears a diaper at night. Fist bump.
7. Gracious mercy on my soul. I am essentially taming a wild animal. Heaven help me.
8. I try to pick two weeks if possible where I can be home a lot and basically stare at my child's undressed bottom half for the better part of the day. Yes, I let them walk around bare bottomed. We try not to go out in the front yard like that, and never out in public. Girls are easier because they can have on a skirt. It is a full time job to stalk your child in this way for two weeks, without their realizing you are doing this. When they begin to have an accident, I say in a friendly way, "Uh-oh" and bring a potty seat over to them to finish what they were doing. Or I take them to the potty seat. I put potties in my living room and hallway because it's tough at first for them to make it all the way to a bathroom. Generally I am very pleased if 10 percent of the potty matter actually goes in the potty at first. We are going for anything greater than 0 percent.
9. I have never used rewards like candy or cute games, but if they work for you then go for it. You're the one doing all the work, not me. I just figure, hey kiddo you get the same reward as everyone else does: pants that are not messy. I do say, "Yay, good job," after they've gone potty.
10. The most effective potty training is, in my opinion, very messy potty training. They will go on the carpet. They just will. Dreft laundry detergent is a magical, heavenly substance that will clean any bodily fluid including mischievous pet residue. (You don't even want to know how I know this.) I also sprinkle baby powder on wet areas after drying them as best I can.
11. It ain't no shame in public. My older children find it less than charming, but I am not afraid to walk from my car to the park holding a portable potty seat. Plop that bad boy down by a park bench. This potty training thing is not neat and tidy, and leaving the house without a diaper is big time advanced mode. This is not a drill, this is not a drill, this is real. Code red. I am not taking my potty to the White House formal dinner, just the park, where other moms always understand.
12. I hold a tiny dollhouse-sized potty seat, and a tiny little bear and show my child that bear going potty. The mommy bear comes over to the little bear and says, "My aren't you doing a lovely job of going potty today dear?" I leave that sitting around where they can pretend themselves.
13. Your child will, in all likelihood, embark on a covert operation that threatens to sabotage the potty mission. After stellar performance for weeks or even months -- after you have announced to everyone that your child is potty trained -- he will have lots of accidents all over the place as if he had never used the potty in his entire life. This comes when you least expect it. But now you do expect it, so you're golden. You knew this harmless ambush was coming, it is only a bluff, and it will last just a few days or weeks. So you rally your forces and start all over again with number 1. He's still potty trained, he's just running some tricked out interference.
14. A more adventurous potty trainee will, unbeknownst to you, wander off and go number two on his own, on the big potty. When he does this, your bathroom will look like someone has been murdered.
15. Look at it like this: you are taking a child who has been trained to go in his diaper all this time, and teaching him to do something else. He will eventually catch on. Girl you got this.