How to Potty Train a Toddler

It has come to this moment. Mini Speaker7 has hit the age where he needs to find a pot to piss in or be resigned to a life full of diapers, so sayeth some parenting blog that routinely makes me feel I fail as a parent. I probably am more of a C-minus kind of mother.

Mini Speaker7 is a few months past 3. He’s a boy, and apparently boys are harder to train than girls, dolphins and some species of monkey. It has been slow-going, which I partially attribute to my laziness, but, hey, those reality television shows aren’t going to watch themselves.

For the past few months, I’ve been regaled with success stories of child-size shitting and urinating on other “friends” Facebook pages. These children–much, much younger than my son–are pooping prodigies:


This has been discouraging because while reading my Facebook newsfeed for two hours, my son shat through another pair of underwear.

I honestly have no idea what I’m doing, and was hoping that my skilled toilet use would be enough. In fact, I recently earned a doctorate in urination from the University of Phoenix.

Some potty training experts say you should just lay down some tarp and let your child act as if he was a drunken idiot at an all-day outdoor concert, glowsticks included. Others exalt the potty “sessions” where the child alternates between screaming “I’m not wearing underwear! I’m not!” and “I’m not wearing diaper! I’m not!” until you suffocate yourself with a diaper genie.

This headline is a bit of a misnomer. A better one would be “How the fuck do you potty train a toddler because, seriously, have you met a toddler? They are out of their fucking minds.”

This is what I’ve attempted:

  • A potty training incentive sticker chart thomaspeechart

My son screamed “Take it off! Take it off!” when I stuck on a sticker.

  • Bribes. At any given moment in my household, you can hear either me or my husband stating the following in a sing-song voice: “If you go pee-pee on the potty, you get a truck. If you go poopy, you get two trucks!” These are the moments you hate yourself.

My son has consistently been a late-bloomer. He arrived early, but has since taken his time in doing many tasks. He walked at 20 months. He crawled at two. He learned to jump about a month ago. He will get there. It is likely he will know how to spell “toilet” before he actually uses it. But he will get there.

As my father likes to say: “Small kids, small problems. Big kids, big problems.”

That is true, but small kids can really produce some massive turds.


  1. Speaker7,
    As much as I’d like to comment on your post, I’d rather let you know that I have defended your owner. A blogger shared a link to someone else’s parody of 50 Shades of Grey, and I quickly brought her attention to the real deal. There can only be one you, master Speaker7.
    Le Clown

  2. First of all, congratulations on your PhD in PeePee! Well done – I imagine you had to write a pissertation.
    On the subject of bribes, I’ve been going in the potty for quite some time and I haven’t gotten a truck for doing so in decades. I blame my wife for not accepting the responsibility from my parents when we married.

    1. I’m saddened by your lack of trucks and praise for you consistent potty use. We don’t celebrate each other’s victories like we should.

  3. I have three boys ages 14 months to 7….the only 2 things kids can control is what goes in and when it comes out. I fought my # for over a year and he finally decided to go potty. #2 was almost completely trained by age 2 because he suffers from a nearly deadly case of Middlechilditis.
    I read about a woman who trains her husband the way seaworld trains killer whales……PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE good and ignore bad….Good Luck-You are not alone!

  4. OMG, you could write entire posts just about the potty training videos! If you want real pain, watch the Elmo one where they discuss different names for pee and poop (urine! number 2!). Also, there are songs – so many songs. About eliminating waste. But you will do any insane thing to try to get your kid to flipping go in the toilet.

    They say girls are faster than boys, but mine weren’t. Thing One was almost four before she totally mastered it. This was partly because I was pregnant with her sister through most of her third year and just said screw it, no way can I get down that low. Also she had a verbal delay which meant potty communication was just going nowhere. I was rather certain she’d be in diapers ten years later, but somehow she finally got it. Then after working with Thing Two for months and giving up, she turned three and just started using the potty like she’d decided that was a good time to do it. (Bangs head against wall.)

    1. I’m imagining the songs are likely the word “pee-pee” sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells” and then “poopy” sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells” and then “explosive diarrhea” sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”

  5. I effing hate these liars who say their kids were potty trained at two months. When I posted my diaper changing blogpost to Facebook, one of my acquaintances from Korea (whose daughter is several months younger than C) chimed in and was like “wow how funny but good thing Daughter has been potty trained since she was nine months!!!” Lies, lies, lies.

    1. You know what’s really great? There are books that encourage you to potty train your infant. As in a baby that can’t even hold it’s head upright. Now that’s brilliant.

      1. We had a baby sitter who was determined to potty train our daughter before age 1, and I let her. I never had kids before – what did I know? I think the trauma of that early attempt is why she wouldn’t do it for years. She almost couldn’t got to preschool for not being potty trained, but got with the program the week before school started.

  6. -grin- This is going to be a long reply. My toddler is now 26 but I still remember the day I locked myself in the toilet to stop from throttling her. Why you ask? Because after sitting on the effing pot for 20 minutes I finally let her up and she peed…. right next to the potty. I kid you not.

    So, how did the miracle happen? Simple. I stopped stressing and bought one of those kiddie toilet seats that sit on top of a standard toilet. They have little steps. As soon as Miss was shown that she could use the big toilet…. the /real/ toilet… she responded with enthusiasm. So much so that she was completely nappy free three months later.

    Of course nappy free also means mad dashes to the public toilets, and once having to let her pee on the kerb, but little kids don’t have a time sense and we were both cool about it.

    Seriously, get one of those kiddie toilet seats and you should be right. You might also want to hang a plastic bullseye inside the toilet for young S7 to aim for when he pees. My nephew’s aim wasn’t great. Or perhaps he knew exactly what he was doing… 😦

    1. He already uses the detachable seat. He’s tall for his age so when he would sit on the potty, his knees would be up on his ears. I’m hoping by the time he’s 26, all will be worked out.

  7. The language of your post was remarkably similar to my latest one, which isn’t that amazing if you consider the limited ways you can say poop. Still, it appealed to my ego-centrism, and I think I’m in love with you now. In addition, the timing of your sentences left me with that rare but oft sought after sensation of “Holy shit. That was so clever that I can’t even laugh.” Congratulations.

  8. Please, tell your son I still don’t know how to jump.

    Also, maybe encourage him to shit all over Thomas the Train. It’d work for me.

    My son was potty trained by some miracle at 2 and a half because I had finally lost my mind and let him run around buck naked for three days. All it took was pooping once on the kitchen floor and he was sufficiently grossed out and was potty trained.

    My daughter? ha! HAHAHA!! OH MY GOD. I’m still having flashbacks. Why? because she was pooping in diapers until she was four and a half. Yes, that is correct. My pediatrician assured me this was “normal”. but still I had visions of me changing her diaper before her father walked her down the aisle.

    So finally after 10 plus years of changing diapers, the day of No-Diapers finally arrived and it ranked up there with the day I gave birth and got married. Actually it was better.

    1. I call my eldest “the princess” because she was quite content to let someone else feed her, change her, carry her, etc. Why learn to walk or feed yourself or go potty when someone else will take care of it for you? Like, duh. Meanwhile her sister was scaling bookshelves at one.

    2. I don’t mind when he shits in his Thomas underwear. That show is for realz the weirdest. I think I’m in for the long haul. My son didn’t seem to mind so much when he had urine streaming down his leg.

  9. I wish I had some advice for you, but the twins have been trained for 10 years and I can’t remember how the hell we did it. I’ll be relearning in a few months as we get Baby C ready to start using the commode.

    1. I guess at some point, they get old enough to realize crapping in their pants isn’t the best way to make a first impression. At least, I hope that is what happens.

  10. My daughter walked into the living room one day at about a year old and said she went potty. My wife and I were skeptical, but sure enough, she had taken her diaper off and gone in her little toilet all by her big self. Then she refused to do it again for 6 months. She just wanted us to know that she could do it and would when she felt like it I guess. #1 boy was potty trained when he was 2, and like your son didn’t walk until 20 months. Unrelated to potty training ease of success, we thought maybe he was a genius, but when we had him tested, they assured us he was fine for his age, but no, he’s no genius. #2 boy is 2 and said “poopoo” the other day so I asked if he had to go poop. He nodded yes so I took his diaper off and told him to go potty and I went downstairs. Moments later I heard the wife hollering something about who the fuck leaves a 2 year old with no diaper on to poop by themselves. He went ahead and made his business all over the carpet, but I still say it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t anticipate the last one being potty trained until he’s 8 or 9. So in short, even though this comment has been incredibly long, good luck. He’ll do it when he fucking feels like it.

    1. I’m getting that toddlers decide when they will do things. My son’s favorite new expression is “I not” as in “I not brush my teeth, I not” “I not get dressed, I not” “I not breathe oxygen, I not.”

  11. Ahhhhh, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that, but everything you said is so true and hilarious I’m selfishly thankful. I’m sure he’ll get there eventually because you care enough to post about this, which means you’re trying really hard. Also, girls generally don’t like to date guys who shit their pants. So worst case scenario, even if you give up, he will ultimately self-correct. You win!

  12. First, absolutely fucking hilarious. Second, I gave up. I tried, I really tried, but after a week of carrying around a diaper bag with four changes of clothing because that’s what I’d need for two hours of time out of diapers, we went back to diapers. I think he was three when I gave up. At almost four, we went on a family trip to an art camp. Artists are notoriously lackadaisical (that’s writer talk for lazy), so children roamed freely near deep ponds, noxious weeds and glass blowing furnaces. My son was potty trained when another little boy showed him how much fun it was to pee on a tree. I have no idea if a bear told him where to shit, but we never had a problem after that trip. Also, my boy wanted nothing to do with sitting on a potty like a girl. He wouldn’t use the toilet until he was big enough to do it standing up.

  13. Potty training is a horrible, horrible experience. It took years longer with each kid than I felt like it should.

    I mean, um, my kids were potty-trained before their first birthday, and I invested all the diaper money in mutual funds and can now retire on the dividends.

  14. Fuck it. Just wait until he’s ready. I say this as the battleworn mom who tried for two years to potty train only to have the boys just one day decide that pottying was happening and did it themselves. That was 3 months ago and they just turned 4. So talk about late bloomers.
    The moms who have potty trained children before 3 actually have children who are amenable to going on the potty when their moms sense that they need to go. Or girls. Mine were not amenable, or girls.

  15. Okay, this might be weird, but my cousin told me it worked for her. Her mom wanted her potty trained, so she made her clean her own diaper (obv it was a cloth) but maybe you could do something similar? Or would he just play with it and smear shit everywhere? Maybe this was a terrible suggestion.

    Good luck, and you totally aren’t a C- mom. The fact that you care makes you at LEAST a B+.

  16. I eventually gave up with mine and figured that by the time he began school, he would quickly drop the whole diaper bit. He actually started using the toilet the very first time that he saw a friend’s son who was only a couple of days older than him using the toilet by himself. As they grew older the two of them became very competitive and constantly were trying to outdo each other, but I never worried about diapers again!

  17. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I no longer feel so alone. My 3 1/2 year old isn’t out of diapers yet, either. Although she CAN conduct her business on the potty, she chooses not to do so. She will happily do it most of the time at daycare, but not with me. Instead, she brings her diaper and wipes to me and tells me to change her. I tell her to change herself, but then she starts whining and it’s like nails on a chalkboard, so I cave. I’ve tried everything. Now I’m to the point where… whatever. She’ll go when she goes.

    1. My son was a rock star today at day care. A rock star. Then he gets home, pees through one pair of underwear, gets changed, then promptly shits through the second one. I guess I should be happy he performs well in public settings.

  18. Omg this was so fucking funny. You may not win mother of the year but I think you could do standup. As far as toilet training your kid, my last toddler is now 16 and with all the medications I was taking so that I wouldn’t kill any of them, I don’t really remember how I did it, but since none of them are pissing their pants anymore, I imagine that I was successful. Good luck.

  19. I’m not sure how my mother survived my childhood. She had three of us in diapers at once, and I was, apparently, a slow learner, when it came to potty patrol. I distinctly remember peeing myself at school … and worse … several times … in grade school. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t know how *I* survived my childhood!

    Still, I did survive, and learned (eventually) to control myself properly. I’m sure S7jr will be well able to use the potty by himself by the time he starts dating.

    1. I marvel at those who have more than one. I’m getting by, but barely. If I had another little mouthy dictator to contend with, I would totally lose it.

  20. This — “How the fuck do you potty train a toddler because, seriously, have you met a toddler? They are out of their fucking minds.” — is an amazing truth. You should embroider it on throw pillows.

  21. This post validates why I am a non-breeder, but you do have my sympathy. I hope that your PhD in Urination pays a dividend, preferably by S7jr. in the toilet bowl very soon.

  22. potty training ranks in my least favorite 10 things about parenting. but wherever “potty training” is, “changing shit diapers after the age of two” ranks below it. with my son ten years ago i was gung-ho and bought sticker charts and a little boy potty and let him pee all over naked for a few days till he shit one time on the floor and was miraculously trained. then when it got to my fourth kid a few years back i was worn out and sick of all the parenting potty training advice. when she was two and a half I simply told her if she wasn’t potty trained she couldn’t go on vacation with us because swim diapers are disgusting and no one wanted poop in the pool.

    1. I just have to keep my eye on the prize…why three years ago, I was keeping a daily chart of his waste elimination because I was breastfeeding and completely out of my mind, and I don’t do that anymore. And at some point, I’ll be in a nursing home shitting in my own pants. It’s the circle of life.

  23. I just stuck to the idea that he would probably not go to college peeing his pants and dropped it. I acted like I didn’t care. He ran around naked a lot as it was summertime when he turned 3…we put Cheerios and Fruit Loops in the toilet. He watched his dad pee. He did not go to college, but he does not pee his pants. Something worked. I don’t know what. He’s a stand up comedian now…so I did provide him with lots of dysfunctional parenting to fuel his routine.

  24. Honestly, using the toilet is overrated. As long as he can spell it before he starts a blog, I say, job well done.

    I’d give you a sticker for this hilarious post, but I’m afraid your son with freak the hell out.

  25. When I started with my twins…I pitted them against each other…I admit it. I fully pulled the, “Hey, your brother went in the potty…” I am a terrible mother.

    1. Hellz yeaz. My son will be the first Bachelor to spray a circle of piss around the bachelorette of his choosing. It will be quite the “journey.”

  26. Typical man mentality: I’ll just army crawl instead of walk in hopes that my Mom carries me everywhere. Or maybe that was just my son?! The good news? Eventually they get sick of their own shit and handle their bidness appropriately: in a toilet with minimal wiping skills.

  27. He sounds like a genius. I’m convinced we are the uncivilized ones. If, instead of flushing it like trash, we all collected our poop in a handy wearable pocket, we’d solve the energy crisis AND sufficiently ward off vampires. Carry on, Mini S7.

  28. Congratulations on that degree, but I have to caution you; most employers don’t value those online degrees quite as much as a Doctorate in Urination from, say, Harvard.

  29. Cartoons in title = great! Plus “apparently boys are harder to train than girls, dolphins and some species of monkey” funny.

  30. Thank you for bring those useful charts to my attention. I am sticking them to my wardrobe door as we speak. I don’t have a child, mind you – they are purely for my own use.
    And, as an aside, my little sister performed a blatant disregard for potty training before her head was even out of my mother: a breech baby, her little bottom came out first and immediately shat on the midwife. Start as you mean to go on, I say. Start as you mean to go on. (That’s not to say she makes a habit of shitting on people in the medical profession. She grew out of that when she was about 16.)

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