Transcript: Potty Training Tips – Following the 3 Day Potty Training Method
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Potty Training Tips – Following the 3 Day Potty Training Method and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: I’m regularly asked by mums for tips and help on getting started on potty training. This prompted me way back shortly after I started the podcast, to put together a short episode titled “Tips on How to Potty Train Toddlers”. I’m still regularly asked, and I’ve continued to be on the lookout for someone to interview who is an expert in this area?
Well, I’m delighted to let you know that my search is over. If you are looking for help with potty training, then you won’t want to miss this episode. I’m chatting with Kaley Medina, who is a pediatric sleep consultant and certified potty training consultant. So if you are multitasking, you’ll want to stop what you’re doing and give this 100% of your attention.
Kaley has developed a quick and really effective method to get children potty trained and during our chat, you’ll hear us talk about the 2 different methods of potty training and which one is recommended due to its quick turnaround time, the number one reason that parents fail with potty training and how to avoid making this mistake. What age should you commence potty training your little one and the 3 problems that you will encounter if you promise your child rewards for using their potty.
Kaley has put together some excellent free potty training resources for listeners of First Time Mum’s Chat, which you don’t want to miss. I’ll include links to where you can access them in the show notes and I’ll let you know where you can find them at the conclusion of this episode.
Something I’ll quickly mention before we get started. During our chat, you’ll hear Kaley refer to diapers and you’ll hear me refer to nappies. Sorry for the confusion, these are exactly the same and are just referred to differently between Australia, the UK, and North America.
Now onto the interview…
Hi Kaley, and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m absolutely thrilled to have you here today because as you know, I’ve been on the lookout for someone to talk to who specializes in potty training, so I was thrilled to meet you recently. Can you start by telling us about you and your background?
Kaley Medina: Absolutely, thanks so much for having me on your show, Helen. My name is Kaley Medina and I am the founder of Live Love Sleep. I have been working with parents over the last decade with their children, helping them to create healthy sleep habits, and more recently diving into the world of potty training as well.
So I started my career as a pediatric sleep consultant and I have a team of about 10 sleep coaches who help me with families all over the world and what I found as time went on and I had my babies who graduated, is I would get the parents coming back to me two years later saying, “Hey Kaley, I had such success with getting my child sleeping well and now we’re starting potty training. Do you know anything about potty training or have anybody that you can send me who can gimme some help or coach me through this?” I was kind of searching for people who could do that and there was not very much help out there. So I thought, this is something that kind of goes hand in hand with sleep coaching.
It’s really working with parents to create a plan that’s going to work for their child to get them potty trained as fast as possible, with the least amount of stress. I took a certification course and read every book I could get my hands on, and have developed a really effective, quick and effective method to get children potty trained, with trying to take the stress out of it for parents because it’s a little bit of a messy business.
Helen Thompson: Oh yes it is, isn’t it!
Kaley Medina: Yeah, so I’m really excited to be on here and share some tips with moms and dads who are trying to teach their kiddo how to be able to successfully use the potty and potty training actually, it’s a skill that you’re going to be teaching your toddler or your child. I really think of it as a similar journey as to learning how to ride a bike, right?
As a parent, you’re going to be very supportive and encouraging as your child learns the skills needed to push off, it’s how to balance, how to pedal and stop, and you’re likely going to be holding onto their seats and helping them balance first, so they’re not scared of falling and then you’re gonna be running alongside them and cheering them on.
They’re probably gonna have some falls along the way, but that’s just part of the learning curve, and they’re not going to learn it overnight. It’s going to take some time and it’s going to take a lot of patience on your part, but with your help and some practice, they’re eventually going to get it. With potty training, it can actually be a really wonderful experience for both you and your child. I promise that it really can be a very powerful bonding experience that you can have. That’s exactly what we do with potty training, is we really take the stress out of it and just create a much more enjoyable experience for parents than you’re probably expecting because you really are helping your child learn a lifelong skill.
You’re going to be helping them to establish a connection between the sensation of needing to pee or poop with the actual act of using the potty. That really is the ultimate goal of potty training, and I’m gonna repeat that. It’s establishing that connection between the sensation of feeling that need to pee or poop and the act of using the potty. That is our ultimate goal with teaching your child how to be potty trained, and you’re gonna help your little one to establish that connection.
So when we’re looking at how to do potty training, in general there’s kind of two different methods that you can use. So one of those is going to be child-led potty training and child-led potty training, it’s kind of is how it sounds. It’s really giving your child the lead on how to be able to do it on their own. You basically buy a little potty for them, stick it in the bathroom, and you kind of model the behavior that you’re going to be showing your child how to use the potty, not putting any pressure on them, and just letting them kind of do it as it comes.
It is an effective method, but it generally takes a very long time because when you’re giving a 2 – 3 year old the time to just kind of do it as they will, it’s usually going to take several months to get that done.
When parents call me, they’re usually wanting to do it quickly. They’re wanting to ditch the diapers pretty fast, and that’s what the other method is. It’s more of a parent-led approach to potty training. With the parent-led approach, this is when you are going to be the one who actually helps your child learn that sensation of feeling that urge to pee or poop, and connecting that with sitting down on the potty and successfully using it.
So really to accomplish this goal, the number one thing that you are going to want to do, Is to dedicate 3 consecutive days to where your sole focus is going to be on potty training. Initially, you’re going to need to be pretty vigilant, you’re going to need to be really carefully observing your child for signs that they need to pee in the potty and swiftly guiding them over to the potty.
So engaging in regular activities outside of the potty training process, it’s probably going to really hinder this endeavor. So when I say 3 full days, I really do mean 3 days where you are going to be blocking it off of your calendar and the one and only activity that you are dedicated to over those 3 days is going to be teaching your child how to use the potty. So if you’re a working mom, I don’t recommend getting started on the weekdays because you’re gonna be distracted by work. So do it probably over the weekend and maybe take a Friday or a Monday off so that you can really give it a 100%.
Cancel those soccer lessons, don’t plan any play dates within those times. I actually don’t even recommend going up together for groceries. It really is just 3 days where you are solely focused on potty training and I know that that can sometimes make parents feel a little bit anxious, feeling like, oh my gosh, I’m gonna be stuck at home with my child for 3 days, and that’s a very normal feeling.
I want you to try to shift your mindset around that and instead of thinking about it like you’re going to be stuck at home all day, like you were during the pandemic, I want you to try embracing it as an opportunity to really focus and connect with your child. When I did potty training with my daughter Evelyn, I just remember dreading the weekend and what it was going to look like but what I can tell you is I came off of those 3 days feeling closer to her than I had in a really long time.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I bet.
Kaley Medina: We did puzzles, we played those make-believe games that she wanted to play, we had fun doing play-doh and crafts. It was just such great one-on-one time that we got to spend together during that period and I just felt like our bond really grew, and that’s the feedback that I get from almost all my clients towards the end, as they say, I was just absolutely dreading that time and it really did bring us closer. So if you’re really able to dedicate these 3 days, you’re gonna find that potty training is just going to go so much faster and so much smoother than if you didn’t and I do find that the number one reason why parents fail with potty training is because they really didn’t commit to those full 3 days of teaching their child those skills needed to use the potty. They tell their toddler instead, okay, we’ve tried this for a day and we gotta get out of the house and go get those groceries or go to that play date and okay, fine, here’s the diaper. They’re just going to start to get confused and that confusion, it really is just gonna make it so much more challenging when you decide to try it again. They may even begin resisting even harder that second or third time because they learned that if they do, then that diaper is going to come back on and no one wants that.
So one other thing to keep in mind whenever you’re trying to determine whether or not it’s the right time to potty train, is that you want to do it during a time that there’s not going to be any big life changes. So if you’re currently pregnant and expecting a baby in the next few months, you’ll wanna either get potty training done as soon as possible so that you’ve got a little bit of time on the back end before that baby arrives, and you don’t have to worry about having two in diapers, or you’re going to need to just wait a few months after that baby arrives because that’s a big, big change in a child’s life.
Helen Thompson: That’s an interesting point because if you’re pregnant a couple of months and the baby arrives, would that encourage the child to go backwards as well? Say in that two months period you get the toddler used to going to the toilet and everything and they’re all fine and doing great, but then suddenly the baby arrives and the toddler sees the baby in the nappy and everything. Do you think as a parent or as a potty trainer, that it might push the child backwards again because they think, oh, well, why’s the baby in nappies and I’m not. I know from the childcare side, I’ve noticed that sometimes happens and I’m wondering what your views are on that.
Kaley Medina: That’s a really good question, and sometimes it does happen. Sometimes we do have those regressions, but I will say it’s easier to deal with a regression than it is to go on too long with those diapers and have to deal with having those two in diapers for a long time. I’d just say way more often than not, believe it or not, children generally don’t go into those regressions.
Think about, if they used to have a pacifier or a dummy and the new baby arrives, you know, maybe they’ll kind of play around with the babies, like, oh, what kind of a toy is this but they’re not going to get addicted to the pacifier again. It’s the same thing with, maybe asking for the diaper, but with toddlers, it’s just very important that we establish clear boundaries and let them know that the expectation for them is that they are in big kid underwear now and if their little brother or sister might be in that diaper, but they’re not going to be anymore, they’re in their underwear at this point.
Helen Thompson: And you don’t encourage, I dunno what you call them in America, but here in Australia we have pullups. They are a nappy, but they’re pants that are like a nappy and you pull them up. So I’m reckoning that you encourage them when you’re starting potty training that you take them out to the shops before you start and say, right, we’re going to buy you some big pants for you to wear and we’re going to take you out to get a potty, do you wanna choose it? So you are encouraging the child and you are building it up before you do that three day period so that you then don’t put on on a pull up afterwards.
Kaley Medina: Once we decide that we’re going to do potty training, we do wanna go completely diaper free, meaning no pull-ups. Just like you said, a pull-up is just, it’s just like a regular diaper or nappy but instead of having those little straps that you would undo and take it off manually, your toddler can just pull it up or down themselves.
Now a pull-up is something, once we start potty training, you actually will be buying pull-ups, but you are only going to be using them for nighttime sleep because when you do potty training, you are only going to be potty training during the daytime. Nighttime potty training is naturally going to happen on its own.
Your toddler’s bladder is going to learn how to sleep when they’re sleeping and sometimes that can be a few weeks after you teach them how to successfully use the potty. I mean, when we did potty training with my son, he just naturally started sleeping through the night without wetting his pull up anymore and I was like, wait, what, you’re two, my daughter’s four, and she’s still in pull-ups at night. For her it took several years after we did potty training with her for her to be able to go all the way through the night without it. It can be normal for children up to the age of seven to still be wearing a pull-up at night, even though you might’ve potty trained them when they were two years old. So it’s just something that’s going to naturally come with a little bit more time.
Helen Thompson: And it takes time, even as an adult, you learn, oh, I can get up and go to the toilet at night. For a child, that’s a bit harder for them to learn that.
Kaley Medina: Yeah, and as a sleep consultant, I do not want to be telling parents to be either waking their child up throughout the night to try to use the bathroom because that full night’s sleep is so important for your child’s learning and development, and it’s not something that we want to be interrupting when we know that this process is going to progress on its own.
Helen Thompson: Yeah and I like your two things that you mentioned about the the adult led one and the child one. With the adult led one, something that I always used to do when I was in my childcare and helping parents with potty training, if the child wanted to go, I’d encourage them to sit down on the potty or on a big toilet with steps and a sort of extra toilet seat and give them a book to read or give them something nice to do on the toilet so that they’re not being forced to go. If you’re doing it at that side with a parent led one, would you recommend doing that? Give them a nice book for them to read.
Do you reckon that would be a good thing or even give them a book about potty training before you start so they can build it up?
Kaley Medina: I do, that is one of the things that I recommend getting before potty training. I’ve actually got an amazing free resource that I’m gonna be giving to all your listeners. I’ll talk more about that towards the end. One of those is just some things that I recommend getting ahead of potty training and books are absolutely one of those. Books on potty training and that’s something that you can read to your child before you get started so that they can start to get excited about it and kind of know what that process looks like from start to finish. It’s also something great to give them while they’re sitting on the potty because they might not go right away, it might take them a little bit of time and parents also ask me, well, how long do I let them sit on the potty, while they’re kind of reading their book. It’s not like there’s going to be a hard and fast rule on it, but I think generally somewhere between 3 to 5 minutes and within that timeframe, having a little bit of distraction, like reading a book about potty training can be so helpful. I remember when I did it again with my daughter Evelyn, I had a book for her called Princess Potty Time.
Helen Thompson: Oh, I love that book. It’s a wonderful book that one.
Kaley Medina: It is and I think the thing that worked so well with it, it’s one of those books that has kind of the lift the flaps, or some little things that you can pull out and it’s more interactive. There’s lots more like that these days. Like Pete the Cat has one, Sesame Street has one and I think those ones that are more interactive, she was like, pulling the little toilet paper down and then she’d look in the bathroom like, whoa, there’s our toilet paper. Making that connection there, it’s just so cool to see those little gears turning in their minds.
Helen Thompson: What would you recommend to do when they’ve actually done a wee or a poo? What would you say to them once they’ve done it? Would you say, well done, let’s get a sticker, or give them a clap or give them a hug?
Kaley Medina: That is a really good question, Helen, and that’s actually the next point that I want to talk about that is kind of going to go against probably everything that you’ve traditionally heard and probably how you were potty trained, how we were all potty trained as kids. With my approach, I’m actually going to tell you that we do not need the rewards. I know, did I really say that you’re not going to be giving your toddler a skittle every time that they go pee on the potty? Yes, you heard me right! I know that you’ve probably heard it from everyone who’s offered you advice, but this is actually an outdated approach.
It’s like how your mom might have said, we let you sleep on your stomach all night when you were a newborn because that’s what the doctor told us to do to help you to get better sleep. Now we know that research has showed us that infants sleeping on their stomach actually are at higher risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), so more likely had your baby be sleeping on their back. It’s the same thing with rewards and potty training.
As a former educator myself, I’ve learned more and more about the new research that has come out over the last decade here. I just want parents to know that it is okay to do things differently than other generations or what you might’ve learned a long time ago. In fact, when I first started my journey as a sleep coach, I was trained to use rewards for toddlers to encourage them to sleep in their beds all night long.
Helen Thompson: I don’t agree with it anymore. As you’re saying, it’s not giving them a sense of independence. It’s giving them something thinking, oh, if I do this, I get that. It’s not actually teaching them the independence to know, oh, okay, this is what I do when I’m a big kid. This is what big kids do. It’s not like, well this is what big kids do they get a reward. So I totally get that.
Kaley Medina: Yeah, exactly and what I found with it with sleep is that children actually learned the skills needed to sleep well much faster. I found that this same theory, it holds true with potty training as well. So if you employ this strategy where your child is only encouraged to use the toilet, when there’s a promise of a reward, you’re going to actually encounter 3 problems and I just wanna touch on those really briefly.
So the first is going to be that you’re constantly going to have to one up that last reward because initially you might find that that little skittle or that sticker was really enticing to your toddler, but that excitement, it’s going to start to wear off pretty quickly and you’re one, two days in and they start to lose interest in that little sticker or that skittle.
Before you know it, you’re gonna have to offer a whole bag of it or find much bigger toys as the days go on there and that really brings us to problem number two is how on earth do you get rid of these rewards once you’ve started offering them? How is your child going to react when you tell them that they’re not going to be getting those skittles or those stickers anymore whenever they go pee pee in the potty?
They’re probably going to start to get pretty emotional and start to have some tantrums and meltdowns because they’re upset that that reward is gone and they’re just gonna be acting out. So that also leads to problem number three and really the most significant problem with using those rewards with potty training is that we’ve conditioned them to solely use those rewards for using the potty there, and they just lack that internal motivation to do it, and they’re just not going to be driven by that internal sensation of needing to use the toilet or just that sense of pride that comes from successfully using it. And again, once the rewards disappear, their desire to use that potty is going to start to go away as well.
So that’s why I don’t like to use rewards. Whenever they do successfully go pee or poop in the potty, we’re just going to respond to them in a nice, calm manner and just say, great job going peepee in the potty. You must feel very proud right now that you did that, good job.
Helen Thompson: So that’s a reward in itself really, ’cause you are giving them positive encouragement and giving them positive reinforcement as well.
Kaley Medina: Yeah, exactly. That can be really helpful for them. Every child’s just kind of on their own path and journey on how long this is gonna take. At the beginning, remember I said I want you to dedicate those 3 days, but does that mean that by the end of those 3 days, your child is going to be going to the potty every single time they have to go?
99% of the time, no! It’s going to take longer than that, but that’s when you’re building the foundation and after those 3 days, that’s when you’re gonna be able to dress them in their regular clothes, continue with your regular activities, knowing that you’re going to have those accidents as that first week, 2 weeks kind of go by.
It’s just gonna take a little bit of time for every child to get it. Some are gonna be fully potty trained within that first week, others might take a month or two before you’re starting to not see those accidents anymore. We’re all on our own path to get there.
Helen Thompson: Would you recommend, say if you have a 2 storey house or lots of different rooms in the house, would you recommend that the potty is always in the bathroom, or would you say, right okay, well we’ll have one in the kitchen, we’ll have one in the bedroom, we’ll have one in the bathroom, so that if he’s in the kitchen, he doesn’t have to rush to the bathroom, he knows where the potty is. That’s something I feel is important. I would probably do that. But as a potty trainer, would you do that or not?
Kaley Medina: So for those first 3 days, where you’re just completely focused on potty training, you can buy multiple ones for the house but I just like to bring that one that you have. If you have a two storey, maybe you can have one up top one on the bottom, but you’re going to be following your child around and you’re gonna be bringing that little potty with you, whatever room you’re in.
If you’re in the kitchen, the potty is in the kitchen with you, if you’re in the playroom, that potty is right there with you because you wanna be able to be watching for those signs that your child is ready to use it and be getting them on that potty as fast as possible so that they can feel the pee going into the potty and visually see it in there, and that’s what’s going to help them to start to make that connection between feeling, Hey, I’m starting to need to go, to actually seeing that happen.
Helen Thompson: So many parents say to me, oh, I started potty training my baby when they were 10, 11 months old, or even 9 months old. From my personal experience from childcare, I think that’s too early. It’s probably not a good idea because you’ve gotta watch for the signs for yourself what they are and if you start too early, it may not be advantageous to their development or their bladder. So what would you say the signs were to look for, for when your child is ready to be potty trained?
Kaley Medina: Yeah, it’s not just going to be one thing that we’re looking for, but when we are talking age, I find that the best age to get started with potty training is going to be somewhere between 22 months and 30 months of age. Anything before 22 months and your child is likely just not going to have quite the cognitive ability to quite understand what is expected of them when you put that potty out and walk them through that process and they’re probably not going to have the physical abilities to be pulling their pants up and down and following 2, 3 step instructions on what to do, whenever you’re using the potty. So, I really don’t recommend getting started before 22 months. I’ve worked with children a handful of times, maybe like 21 months or so, but 22 is usually my rule of thumb.
I say 22 to 30 months because I find that after about 30 months, this is just kind of our sweet spot. After 30 months, children are just that little bit older, that little bit more independent, and I find that it’s going to be more challenging for parents who have waited until after that time to do potty training.
Does that mean their child’s never gonna get potty trained? No, they’re still gonna be able to have success. It’s just gonna be a bit of a harder road to get there. So somewhere between that range is going to be ideal. I’ve actually got in the free resources that I’m gonna be providing your listeners with, I’ve got a little quiz that you can take to determine whether or not your child is actually ready for potty training or not. ‘Cause like you were saying, Helen, you don’t wanna get started too soon and just have it kind of blow up in your face and have your child get frustrated and you’re frustrated. You wanna have it be at the right time.
Helen Thompson: Absolutely, so you’ve mentioned this free resource, so before we finish, what free resource is it that you would like to provide for parents?
Kaley Medina: I’ve got a couple of free resources out there on my website. One is going to be the potty training readiness quiz that you can take to figure out if your child’s ready to get started. The second resource is going to be the items that I want you to start looking into purchasing before getting started so that you can have everything ready to go and the third is going to be 5 things that I recommend doing with your toddler before getting started with potty training, to make sure that both you and your toddler are going to be mentally prepared for what’s coming once you get started. So I’ve got all 3 of those resources for everybody on my website.
It’s just going to be at LiveLoveSleep.com/firsttimemum, and I’ll give you the link Helen, so you can include that in the show notes as well.
Helen Thompson: Well thank you and if anybody wanted to get in touch with you, how would they get in touch with you?
Kaley Medina: Yes, I would love to have people reach out. The best way to get in touch with me is just to go to my website, again, that’s LiveLoveSleep.com and you’ll see potty training there on my website. The first step in getting started is just to schedule a free discovery call with me so that we can get on the same page, make sure that your child really is ready to get started and just walk through to see if my program is going to be the right fit for your family.
When I work with parents, what I do is we schedule a one-on-one consultation where we’re going to be going through your child’s potty training plan in detail and making sure that parents feel very, very confident in knowing exactly what they’re going to do whenever they get started with those 3 days and what to do leading up to it.
Then once parents get started, I work with them over the next few days or the next few weeks to make sure that they feel supported and am answering those questions as they come up because the journey can be a little bit challenging and not every child’s going to follow the book or the plan exactly, and I’m going to be here to answer those questions as they come up.
Helen Thompson: Well, thank you, Kaley for being here, and I really appreciate it. I’ve learned a lot more about the potty training side from you. So thank you for sharing all these tips with me. I really appreciate you being here. Thank you for coming onto the podcast.
Kaley Medina: Thank you, Helen.
Helen Thompson: Wow, Kaley shared many great tips and suggestions, and I’m sure you’ve picked up some strategies to help you get started with potty training. I highly encourage you to take Kaley’s potty training readiness quiz, to see if your child is ready, and the free potty training guide mentioned. You’ve got access to some fantastic materials there, to help ensure that you and your toddler are both prepared to embark on this journey together.
I’ve included links to Kaley’s website and social media in the show notes, which can be found at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/136. I share each episode on First Time Mum’s Chat Instagram page, and you’ll hear me chatting live with folks I’ve interviewed from time to time. Please support me by following me and I look forward to meeting you during one of my lives.
Next week I’ll be talking about healthy eating and why a healthy environment is so important for you and your family. Be sure to listen to this episode when it comes out and please subscribe to First Time Mum’s Chat via your favorite platform so you can get quick and easy access to all our episodes when they’re live.