Potty Training Twins: A Series Of Stops and Starts
Prior to the potty training stage, you would have heard me rhapsodizing at length about how amazing it was that my twins were two completely different, individual little people. During potty training, all I wanted was for them to do the same thing at the same time, the same way.
My three-year-old twins could not be more different in looks, interests, and temperaments. Despite all of that I still thought that potty training would be fairly smooth sailing, with them both happily sitting on the potties while we sang songs.
The first day I was excited and overly optimistic. It had been really easy to potty train their older brother, and with him there to cheer them on I thought things would progress pretty quickly. This is what actually happened.
The whole first week R happily sat on the potty (with no result) if I offered an M&M. D wouldn’t even cross the bathroom threshold. In fact, when we tried to coax him in he went completely limp and hung like a rag doll. So I focused on R instead; still to no result.
After that first week R started refusing to go into the bathroom as well. So I moved on and decided to not press it.
Three weeks after that, D randomly came out of the bathroom with no bottoms on and loudly proclaimed that he had peed. I ran to the bathroom expecting there to be an epic mess to be cleaned up, but nope he had done it. I was elated. We danced around and applauded him for his good deed.
Things seemed to be going really well until school started. Then D proclaimed that you only use the potty at home, and never at school. Paradoxically, R started (only) using the potty at school. I was baffled but decided to just roll with it.
Then, of course, D stopped using the potty at all, anywhere, and no coaxing, treats, bribes or promises could change his mind. I brought up all this in one of my mom groups and advice started coming out of the woodwork; each person swearing that such and such method had worked for them. I figured that I had nothing to lose so I decided to try the least time consuming one first.
The Cold Turkey Method
A mom told me that this method was so easy that it should be the gold standard. She claimed that her daughter was potty trained in 48 hours.
I was told to let my twins pick out an egg timer (so they were excited about using it) and set it for every 30 minutes. When it went off I was to race my twins to the bathroom to sit on the potty. The theory behind this is that with sitting on the potty so often they are bound to go on it, rather than in their pants, that it would somehow turn a switch in their heads and BAM they would be potty trained.
By the second day, I was literally dragging D and R into the bathroom, no one was going (they were holding it and going in their diapers in-between the timer going off) and I was so tired of singing, clapping and cheering them on that I was losing my voice.
This method is absolutely great if you have 5 days where you are able to spend 24/7 with your kids and won’t lose your mind spending the majority of that time in the bathroom singing, dancing, and cheering your twins on (or your bathroom has a wine fridge).
The Naked Method
I decided to try this one next. Parents just let their kids run around without clothes the entire day and have a potty chair handy at all times. I was told that it usually takes 3+ days and is relatively easy. That is not at all what transpired.
I realized early on that you can’t let your kids out of your peripheral vision. It seemed like it was just the cold turkey method without clothes; except that with no clothes there was no safeguard in place. The moment I turned my back I ended up having to clean up a few piles of poo from behind the couch.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend this method unless you are a glutton for punishment, have wood floors covering every inch of your house, plastic covers on your furniture, a housekeeper and/or you happen to be going on vacation; leaving your partner behind to hold the line.
The Bribery Method
Before having children I used to down my nose at people who used bribery to either keep their kids in line or get them to do what they wanted them to do. Then I had kids…enough said.
This method was my last resort and appealed to me more than others because I could implement it anywhere. It also didn’t require a carpet shampoo or any choreographed dance routines.
I was told that I needed to find what my kids were obsessed with and dangle that in order to get them to use the potty. It took me a while to figure out that R is obsessed with sour candy and that was the one thing that he would do anything for. For D, I created a tricked out rewards chart in which he was able to earn Thomas the Train items.
R went for only one day and then went back to proclaiming that you only use the potty at school, but D was doing really well. I was ready to break out the Thomas the Train underwear and then D started refusing to go anywhere near the bathroom again. I took a deep breath and threw up my hands.
Here is what I learned: they will go when they want, where they want, and how they want. All of that stage-management on my part was just an over-orchestrated, gimmick-riddled production that never reached its target audience. My advice is to keep it simple and roll with the punches.
Destiny Effertz is a stay at home mom to 3 boys under 5. Prior to having children, she worked as a paralegal in a large civil litigation firm. Now she uses those research and organizational skills formulating new pie recipes and planning family vacations. For more articles by Destiny on Twiniversity, click here.