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Potty Training Success!

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After unsuccessfully cajoling Emily to write about Seth’s potty training success here at the Fun House, I decided to give my shorter, less compelling recount of that experience.


Many of you may remember a post back in July of last year discussing our potty training attempt with Seth. Seth wasn’t ready then and he made that quite evident through his vehement opposition to even the thought of sitting on a potty upon request. (This stubborn defiance, we believe, is about 50% a uniquely Down syndrome characteristic and about 50% Seth just reflecting the personality of his wonderful parents!) Additionally, we weren’t sure he was putting together the bodily output and the feeling that came right before it. Finally, our frustration and expectation levels were way out of sync with where they should have been. But, this is not unusual with Emily and me both being “bottom line” achiever personalities. We aren’t the type of people who typically just “enjoy the process” or “ease our way into things”. We like formulaic (A + B = C) answers and will carefully follow the process to ensure we get to the result on time and under budget, so to speak. I confess that I naturally fall into that camp even more than Emily.

The Keys to our Success This Time

  1. We desperately prayed. And this is not an overstatement. After experiencing Seth’s fierce opposition to new things and the potty in particular, we were sure that success on the potty would be yet another miracle from God. Our prayers would simply be, “God, we know we neither have the patience nor the wisdom to make this happen, and we will be sure to give You the glory for getting Seth to successfully use the potty.” Now, that he’s using the potty (both #1 and #2) and it all happened within one month’s time with amazingly little stress and few significant accidents, we can say, “Praise God!” We know that God is infinite in His wisdom and power, but we also know that, amazingly, He cares for us and loves us intimately. Believing God cares about Seth using the potty doesn’t make God small, rather it proves Him faithful to be who He says He is. We glorify Him for what He has done. He deserves all the praise. This #1 probably deserves to be 1 through 5 for what we think made the biggest difference, but in the interest of organization it will simply be #1. 
  2. We used miniature stand-alone potty chairs. These guys were less intimidating for Seth and were more mobile. We had one upstairs and one downstairs.

    This chair was less intimidating and more accessible

    We have now transitioned to this set up to get him ready for a more traditional potty experience. He’s taking to it well so far. We still sometimes have to pull the small potty back out to get him to go #2.

    This is the next phase in the progression

  3. We used M&Ms as an incentive. We had tried this a year ago with little impact. However, once Seth was at least willing to sit on the potty, these little guys were helpful in reinforcing the right behavior.
  4. We cheered and danced. If you ready many other posts, you’ll notice that Seth enjoys a good celebration. So, we had two or three minute long celebration parties for a good time after he first started going. Emily is a great encourager as is Ella.
  5. We watched Potty Power. A couple of weeks before our training began, we had Seth watch this show as many times as he wanted to encourage and instruct. Once he started going on the potty, we would all celebrate by saying, “Potty Power!!” It  felt a bit strange, but you can just add it to the list of things you do that are strange when you are parenting.

Where We are Now

With a little practice, Seth is doing great standing up and going #1 into the potty like a big boy. This was huge for our recent trip to Sea World where I was able to take him quickly into a public restroom without much fuss. It’s amazing how freeing it is for us to be able to take him just about anywhere and know, that if nature calls, he is able to take care of business. The next step for Seth will be for him to consistently tell us when he needs to go and become more independent with pulling down and pulling up his pants. For the most part we are reminding him to go, and most of the time he’ll need at least a little assistance getting pants back on. The whole experience with public restrooms has made me appreciate establishments that have a toilet low enough to the ground for a four year old to stand and go #1. I’ve cursed many establishments for tall toilets. Seth wants no part of sitting on a standard sized toilet seat right now. I can’t blame him. I’m sure he feels like he’s going to fall in. We thank you for your prayers and encouragement regarding the potty. I hope this summary helps someone else.


One handsome boy

Let us know your best tips for the potty in the comments, and feel free to show Seth some love for his BIG accomplishment!

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6 Responses to “Potty Training Success!”

  1. Matt Powell August 20, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    CONGRATS! What a great win… I still like to dance a little after I potty…

    • Joel August 20, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Sometimes it deserves a dance

  2. Gina Webster August 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Seth! Way to go, big buddy! That picture of you is so handsome, it made my whole day. Mmmuuah!

    • Joel August 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

      Thanks Gina. Your little CJ is pretty handsome too.

  3. Jennifer August 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    YAY Seth!!!!!!!!!!!

    I used to let my boys stand on my feet to use those tall pottys. I would also hold their hands, so they didn’t fall over and touch the toilet seat.

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