Potty Training in Two Households

Updated on October 31, 2008
D.D. asks from Fresno, CA
12 answers

My son is 26 months old and I'm considering starting potty training. I hesistate because he spends one day a week and every other weekend with his dad......who is not really prepared for this. I'm first seeking advice from mother's of boys.....did you start with a potty chair or use your toilet? Did you have them start with peeing sitting down? I'm seeking advice also from parents who had shared custody during this time? What advice would you have for me?

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answers from Fresno on

The potty chair was a disaster because he would always pull the pee catcher off and then go all over the place. The best thing is the seat that goes on the regular toilet then place him backwards so he can see when he goes. AThats what works for us. All kids di ir at different ages but boys seem to be more successful closer to 2.5 or 3 yrs old.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi D.,

I have only one boy who is now 7 yers old. What I can remember is he was interested in the toilet thing and this was at approx. 19 months, but when his father and I , who was in a shared visitation situation like yourself, decided we would both start, the child did not respond. I do believe that boys will potty train themselves when they are ready. As terrible as that sounds, our son potty trained himself at daycare when he was about 4 years old, he came home to me after work and said, "Mommy I went potty on the toilet" and has been doing it ever since. When his father and I tried it didn't work and both of us were frustrated. He then began to rebel at the wholeidea of the toilet thing. For our son, stickers ,reward calendars and stuff like that just did not work.

Good luck, but don't become discouraged, it will work itself out!! Children often progress only when they themselves are ready!



answers from Sacramento on

My son is 34 mos old. I have been trying to potty train him for the last 4 mos. He started becoming interested at two, but with him in preschool and my husband and I both working, it didn't seem practical. I quit my job in June and have been trying every since. I now realize he's going to do it when he's ready. One thing I remember is what goes in must come out, so a little after breakfast I tell him he has to sit on the potty and go, most days he does, but he won't sit on his own. He has told me a few times and also told his grandmas when he is in their homes. My son does not seem concerned with being "dirty." He would rather play.

So my point is...wait. I think in your situation, it will just become frustrating for all parties. As mentioned previously, if he is in any kind of preschool he will probably watch the other children and do it on his own.



answers from San Francisco on


I'm sure you have a gotten a lot of great advice. My only advice as a mom who potty trained a boy. Is to breathe!! No really Breathe! It took us a long time to train our son, partly because we started too early. If I could go back I would have waited until he was three. We started at 2 1/2 and it took almost a year (including nightime). Had I waited it would have taken half the time. I know that all boys are different and your son might be easy and it might be quick.

We used a potty chair from Boon and he went pee sitting down and still likes it that way (he's now almost 5). It also took him a long time to poop in the toilet. The doctor told it was like fish and liked to be in the toilet and flushed to be with it's friends, strange I know. But it worked!

I recommended breathing because I was more frustrated than my son and as soon as I relaxed into the process he went easily and many less accidents.

About the custody...I can't speak to that other than get a potty and a potty chart for both homes. And let him take the chart back and fourth to show each of you.

Good Luck,



answers from San Francisco on

The most important question is -- is YOUR SON ready? Is he asking about using the toilet? Is he getting up on your own?

If not, given the custody arrangement, save yourself and your child a whole lot of heartache and wait until he shows real interest in using the toilet.

Otherwise, it'll fail, and your child will be miserable.

WHEN he's ready, get a potty chair, have him pee sitting down, get lots of books to put by the chair for him to 'read' and have lots and lots of patience! You'll need to ask him about 20 times a day if he has to go potty, and reward him with hugs when he goes.

Dad has to be on board with this complete regime -- down to the same potty chair -- or you'll have a struggle.

Good luck!




answers from Redding on

Dear D.,
I also have a little guy who went back and forth between me and dad. He was only 1-1/2 when I had to have his dad removed from the home.
Different rules, different parenting styles etc, can be confusing to children. If you and dad aren't on the same page, as my ex and I weren't, consistency can be a difficult thing to achieve. However, my son was actually quite easy to potty train. I had already started well before the break up. Even though dad felt it was much easier to just deal with a diaper, I did things my way, as I had always done, at home and my son basically potty trained his dad. Let's put it that way.
My first baby was allergic to disposable diapers so I used cloth. But she rarely had a diaper on because of her sensitive skin. She was either completely bare bottomed or had cotton training panties on. I did the same with my son. He had a potty chair, and loved it, but mostly for dragging it around the house and hiding toys in it. My dad made a little wooden stool to sit by the toilet so getting up was easy. I let my son see me go potty and I put him on the toilet every time I had to go. I held on to him and even if he didn't go, he wanted his turn to sit. He started out peeing sitting down. I found out the hard way to teach him to point his winkie down. It might sound horrible, but if we were outside, we had a place in the yard that he would go to pull his pants down and pee outside. He thought that was great fun. Typical boy.
Fortunately, neither of my kids could stand being wet or poopy. Once they made the connection that people pee and poop on the toilet and don't have to have it in their pants, it was easy. Yes, they had some accidents and yes I put diapers on them, especially at night or if we were going out somewhere. But at home, for the most part, it was training pants or nothing. From the time they were quite little, I took them in the bathroom with me and let them sit a bit, then we did the hand washing thing. It helped that his sister is 10 years older and he always wanted to do what Sissy did. Even if it meant having a hair clip in his hair from time to time.
I know how very tough your situation is. I've been there myself. If you ever want to talk, let me know.
On one hand, you need to be sensitive to your child and aware that things being different in two houses may be difficult. But, on the other hand, you have an opportunity to do things in your own house now. Your way, without arguing or father's interruption. I don't think it's too early for your child to understand that "This is how we do things at Mommy's house". Don't ask questions about Dad, don't say anything about how it's different at Dad's, just kind of ease him into it.
Like I said, my little boy is the one who told his dad....No more diapers. I'm a big boy now.
You don't want to be too pushy, but by all means you don't want to keep from doing what should be the natural progression of things, if Dad was still there or not. You have to be a strong woman and let your kids know that the world has not ended. People still have fun and birthdays and take baths and get dressed and go bye-bye and they also use the toilet.
The other thing I wanted to say is that I transitioned my son to a sippy or a regular cup. No more bottles. He never asked for one, it was done, I had long quit sending one for him and told Dad that he didn't take bottles anymore. I brushed his teeth every day. When he was about 3-1/2, the ONLY time my ex and I went to a dental appointment together, our son was getting tooth decay. The dentist asked if he was still on the bottle and I said no...that he hadn't had a bottle in almost two years.
Dad popped off and informed me and the dentist that his son loved his chocolate ba-ba's and he was given one every time he was with dad....as many as he wanted, and especially to TRY to get him to sleep at night.
The dentist ripped Dad a new one. I didn't have to say a word.
My point is, do what you know to be right in your own home.
It sounds like you are just starting this "shared" journey. You can still provide stability. Your son needs that from you. They can learn soon enough how to play both sides. Don't buy into that. Be sensitive, but have structure.

My son is 13 now so introducing your son to the joys of the toilet is just the tip of the iceberg. But you can do it! My son still goes with his dad, but he always says, "Thank God I have at least one parent who teaches me the right thing." Kids know. They are smarter than we think.
Best of wishes!



answers from San Francisco on

I agree w/ everyone else... biggest question is "Is HE ready?" Is he asking to use the potty, does he recognize when he has to go? Can he dress/undress himself? My son is turning 3 11/11 and we have started training but he is nowhere interested in really being independent w/ the potty. He'll go maybe once a day in the potty (we have little ones in each of our bathrooms w/ removable seats that can be put on the the big potty and used as a stool). He has yet to poop in either potty. We've done the naked time and he pooped on himself and the ground. He had no idea it was coming, it totally upset him, so I know it that regards he is not ready. Boys vary so greatly in age w/ potty awareness. My next door neighbor is 5 months younger and totally trained, in underwear. He is also the youngest of 3. My nephew didn't train until almost 4. So it really depends on the child. And both parents need to be on the same page. Consistency is the key. If you really wanted to get started, you can always get a little potty and just start w/ familiarizing him w/ it and let him check it out. Just try not to put too much pressure on him and let it be at his pace. If he's at daycare, you could ask if they do any training in conjunction w/ you and what their policy/plan is. Also, a really good book for you to read, if you want, is "The No-Cry Potty Solution Book" by Elizabeth Pantley (http://www.amazon.com/No-Cry-Potty-Training-Solution-Good.... Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

We started potty training our son a few months before he turned 3. I would have liked to have done so earlier but he wasnt ready. He would use the potty about once a week or so but their was no consistency. This past August we got him a little toilet which he still uses to go #2 in. We taught him to pee standing up in the big toilet. It does help if you can get dad to help show him how to do so....(pee together). It makes it more fun for the child. For at least a month, our son would not go #2 in the toilet...he had to have a pull-up on. Said he was too scared to go in the toilet. He is over is now and doing great with the toilet. Play it up with the big boy underware too!
Your son may be too short to get himself up and over an adult size toilet. If so, just stay with the little one. Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

My day care provider is on board, so we tag team. She has 3 boys of her own, so I relied on her knowledge and experience. My son is 27 months and has been interested in the potty for 6 months; he has a 4 year old sister that he watches. When he showed he was ready, we began facing him backwards on the toilet, it seemed to be less of a chance he would pee on the floor that way. Now that he has some experience, he likes to take himself to the bathroom. He faces the forward and drops his bottom into the bowl a little (not touching the water)to make sure he pees into the bowl. I have noticed that when his pants and underwear aren't completely off, it is more physically binding for him, then he pees all over everything, so there are no shortcuts when you are in a hurry ; )

A couple weeks back we visited the pumpkin patch. I had him in a pullup so we didn't have to deal with nasty port-a-potty's; but he stayed dry for the entire time. I changed his dirty clothes and he wanted to pee, so I stood him up in the field next tot he car and he peed like a big boy. He was really proud of himself, and I guess I was a little impressed too. It was much easier than I anticipated. I got the BabyBjorn potty chair, it looks kind of like a urinal and he is enjoying standing from time to time, but not always.

Good Luck with it. I think the key is consistency, so even if have no control over what happens when he is out of your care, make sure you are on top of it when he is with you. I think you will find that one day a week won't prove to be a setback for you or your little man.



answers from Sacramento on

We started potty training our son around that same age. However, with him I think it was too early. We started him on a potty chair sitting down. He wasn't quite tall enough to stand at the big potty and was too afraid to stand on a stool. A year later, now that he is 3, we are more assertive about the potty training. He does very well, however he won't poop on either potty. He has to have a pull up on or he goes into full freak out mode. One day out of the blue he decided he wanted to go pee pee on the potty like his daddy does and now he stands at the big potty. It's a bit messy, he still needs aiming practice!! lol. When he feels he has to go potty he will run into the bathroom and do everything himself. He gets a candy reward for a job well done if his underwear are dry and he washes his hands. The candy is usually something like a starburst, tootsie roll, a dum dum lollipop or jelly beans. This works really well for him.

On the shared custody matter, this is the only thing I can offer you - which really isn't the same. Every month I take my son to my parents for a week. We bought the same potty chair we have at home for him to use there. He uses the same pull ups when he sleeps. And, even though I am there during that week with him, I made sure my parents are on the same page as I am with the rules to which my son knows from home.

I hope I was able to help you in some way. Good luck!


answers from San Francisco on

I am a mother of two boys and have a stepdaughter(during potty training with her my husband shared custody with his ex).

For boys, My 1st son didn't potty train until he was about 31/2 yrs. However, my 2nd son was potty trained fully(underwear only) by 2 1/2 yrs. It just depends on if your son is ready to potty train. My 1st son was reluctant, but very capable of doing the deed, however, we couldn't force him and he had to do it on his own time. We started with a potty chair we changed to pull ups, and him sitting on the potty. This worked fairly well, but we had a lot of going back and forth. Eventually we had him peeing on the potty, still sitting, but he would not go number 2 on the potty. What eventually worked was I bought a book Potty train in one day. Because both me and my husband were beyond frustrated. The book instructs you to buy a doll that can wet itself. Find a day that you can devote strictly to potty training (the whole day ) you put your son in underwear give him lots to drink, make sure you have his favorite drink on hand so he wants to drink, have hime feed the doll, and when the doll, ask him if he thinks the doll has to go potty,(the dol always will) tell him we have to hurry to go to the potty and the doll potties on the toilet. DO this about every 15 minutes or so, and what he is doing is teaching the doll to go on the potty and then have him see if he has to go potty, and usually they do. A couple of times let the doll have an accident. When the doll wets its diaper have your child run with the doll to the potty sit the doll and the potty repeat this 4 times. Each time you repeat go back to what you were originally doing have your son stop playing and run with the doll to the potty. After about an hour of doing this my son was done with the doll, but he never went back to pull ups again.He didn't fully train on that one day, but he was going on the potty regularly. By the end of the week he was fully potty trained.

This would work since you have a shared custody arrangement, If you have him your weekend to potty train and then the week, you can pretty much have him potty trained by the end of your week before he goes sees dad., however, dad need to be on the same page or your son will only regress.

For my 2nd son. He was 18 months when I was doing the doll potty training with my 1st son, and he too wanted in on the action. He grabbed his bear and had his bear potty training. And honestly, if I wanted to put forth the effort, I could of had them both potty trained that day, but I was like One child is enough for now.

I started both of my sons sitting on the potty and then one day my older son said, I want to go potty like daddy and I said okay. My husband began taking them into the bathroom when he had to go potty to show them how to stand. So honestly, he hadnled the standing up part. And they have beend standing since to go pee.

For my stepdaughter, my husband had an on and off weekend arrangement with his ex at the time. His ex was not into potty training their daughter and my husband with help from his family put fort as much effort as they could, His daughter didn't potty train until she was 4.

Again, it is importnat for your sons dad to help to potty train.One last thing, I bought potty training books for boys off of amazon.com that I could read each night to my sons before they went to bed. This was a really big helper. That is the only books that we read until they were potty trained. event still they are 5 and 3, they want to read the potty training books.

I hope this helps, good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

I've potty trained 3 boys and have another who is 24 months. Although they showed some signs of readiness before 30 months, I did not have any real success until 33-37 months for the three. It just takes those boys a while to be really ready. I'm sure you could do it before, but I didn't want to spend my days cleaning up and doing laundry. Don't push your son or yourself too hard --it will make you both miserable. I had the most success starting with them sitting down and offerring a lot of rewards (one M&M for peeing and two for poop). None of them wanted anything to do with a potty chair or seat --they wanted to go on the real thing. Sorry, I can't offer any advice about the split household. Good luck!

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