I was always so intimidated by the potty-training process. There were some days that I could barely get my very independent and strong-willed toddler to get in the car or pick up her toys, let alone go from using a diaper to a toilet. The mere thought of convincing her to try using the potty was already too much for me. And don't even get me started on the accidents — and cleaning up said accidents. It all just seemed so out of her comfort zone (and mine).
When she turned 2, I put on my game face and told my daughter she was done with diapers. It was time to use the potty. A roller coaster of emotions followed that week — for the both of us. I tried everything. I set a timer every five minutes so I could consistently remind her to use the potty, we sang songs about the potty, and we read too many books to count while she sat on my toilet and tried to go. One day, she'd pee in the car, and the next, she'd race to her little Minnie Mouse trainer potty to proudly poop. Every time I thought she was done with diapers completely, she would pee in her pants at a mommy-and-me class or — my personal favorite — look me dead in the eyes and pee on the bathroom floor.
Of course, I know she's only a toddler and none of it was her fault, but after a terrible week of trying, I was so overwhelmed and stressed out by the constant back and forth of potty-training that I decided to try bribing her to use the toilet instead . . . which turned out to be one of my best decisions so far of motherhood.
We rarely have candy in the house, but I went to the store and stocked up on a few bags of jelly beans — her favorite. Every single time she used the potty, I let her pick out a jelly bean. In addition to getting to choose and eat her favorite sweet, I'd jump up and down applauding her small victories. It sounded like the grand finale of a live Lady Gaga performance with every flush.
I was actually surprised by how effective this method was. "If you go potty, you get to pick out a jelly bean!" I'd kindly remind her every time I saw her wiggle. And on cue, she would run to the potty, pee, and munch on a jelly bean, and we'd clap and cheer.
Even though she mastered peeing on the potty thanks to this very clever potty-training method of mine, pooping was still a struggle. She was afraid to go on the potty, and I couldn't hold her attention long enough to get her to sit still — which both led her to go on the floor or beg to go in her diaper again.
Terrified of turning back on our amazing progress, I found myself promising a toy if she went number two on the potty. "If you poop on the potty, I'll get you a new Barbie," I said oh so slyly. Her face instantly lit up with a smile. Two hours later, and the mission was accomplished. She pooped on the potty. So right after, we went to Target and she snagged a new JoJo Siwa doll.
In exactly one month's time, my toddler was fully potty-trained.
Whenever someone asked me how I potty-trained her successfully at a young age in such a short amount of time, I didn't hold back. I told them straight up that she was bribed into it, and naturally, some eye rolling and judgment followed. But I'm not bothered by it. Yes, I gave her candy and bought her a few dolls to keep morale high. But it worked for us, and now she's an even more independent, potty-trained kid who has no problem using the bathroom all on her own.
It's exactly one year from the time we began our potty-training journey now, and things are still going strong. And no, she never asks for a jelly bean (or a toy) when she uses the potty. She just tells me she's going and does what she needs to do.