Chapstick Potty

Potty training is a necessary evil in every parents life. I don’t know anyone who would describe it as fun but then again changing your child’s diapers for their entire life isn’t going to be fun either. At some point, sooner or later (hopefully sooner) you will potty train your child. Sometimes these things go well, sometimes they go crappy. (That was a dad joke)

When we only had one child it wasn’t so bad changing his diapers. Now I’m not saying it was fun but only having to deal with one child wasn’t the end of the world. When we had our second child, our first was only 22 months old, so now I was having to change two diapers. The motivation to get one of these kids out of diapers grew strong and shortly after his second birthday we gave our eldest son a 3 day potty training crash course which involved a jar of M&Ms and it worked wonderfully. Back to only one kid in a diaper. Life was relaxed again. (Except the part about our second child being crazy)

Some time passed and we had our 3rd child, a girl. At this time our second was only 16 months old but again the motivation was there and shortly before his second birthday we gave our other son our 3 day potty crash course and once again it worked beautifully. We were back to being a 1 diaper wearing family. Fast forward a few more months and our 4th child was born. Our daughter was around 16 months old at the time but since we heard girls were easier to potty train we figured she would be a breeze.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. Shortly before her second birthday we gave her our 3 day potty crash course. She wanted none of it. She wasn’t ready. Right at her second birthday we tried again, she still wanted nothing to do with it. A few months after her second birthday we had a 3rd attempt, to which she again wanted nothing to do with. It didn’t bother her to walk around with wet or dirty pants, she never even bothered to tell us when she went, we’d have to notice for ourselves, and the thought of getting an M&M clearly didn’t excite her. She never went into the corner and squatted, or made a funny face or went off to be alone. She just did her business and no one was the wiser. We needed a plan B.

We just kept her in pull-ups for a while hoping it would one day magically click. It never did. Then my wife had one of the most brilliant ideas the world has ever known. To understand this idea you first need to know that somewhere along the line our daughter had developed a slight addiction to chapstick. She wanted to have at minimum one chapstick in her pocket at all times. She would refuse to put on pants or jackets that didn’t have pockets to house her chapstick and she would reapply roughly every 5 to 15 minutes. She was going through entire tubes in just a few days. Family members had purchased her tubes and tubes for Christmas so we had the stuff to spare.

Getting back to my wife’s great idea. She took all the chapsticks and put them up on a shelf and told Ela that she could get a chapstick if she went to the bathroom on the potty and would have her chapstick taken away if she went in her pants. I kid you not when I say that Ela was potty trained by that afternoon. It turns out she only needed the right motivation.

If you think about it, we’re all kind of like that aren’t we? We can do just about anything if our motivation is right. Are you struggling to potty train a child? Are you struggling with accomplishing something yourself? Maybe what you need to do is take a look at what’s motivating you, maybe you just need the proper motivation.

As for us, we’re back down to a 1 diaper family. As our youngest is approaching his first birthday soon I’m already starting to look for his motivation. What’s your motivation?

11 thoughts on “Chapstick Potty”

  1. So true! With the right motivation, we can achieve anything! I’m like your daughter too in that chocolate doesn’t thrill me, but beauty products do! I’m glad it all worked out in the end…
    Cheers and happy weekend!

  2. Chapstick potty! Sometimes we think that because our parenting techniques are the same we will always yield the same results from our kids. We forget to take into account how different our children are. This is such a great lesson of parents potty perseverance (nice alliteration huh). good work sunshine mom and dad. Good luck with potty training the baby. Sometimes it’s crappy. Haha nice dad joke.

  3. i 100% LOVE how well motivation and incentives work for kids. i use all sorts of tactics similar to this. on the note about potty training, what about while sleeping? norah is 4.5 and still wears a diaper at night, and with the volume of pee that’s in there when she gets up, i can’t imagine her making it through the night without it. did all of your kids go to diaper free sleeping easily too?

    1. Night time has been more challenging. Cooper kept dry through the night after a week. Greyson at 3 and a half still wets himself about once a week. And Ela is dry in the morning about once a week.
      It’s hard to motivate an unconscious kid 🙂 The only thing we have found that seems to encourage dry beds is to limit liquid intake in the evening.

  4. You and your wife have probably helped many couples struggling with the evils of potty training with this post. Tip of the day is to buy stock in Chapstick, M&Ms and Huggies.

  5. Dealing with girls is just a bit different you think? They beat to their own drum. What worked in my household is outright bribery. If Stella would make it a whole day without an accident she would be able to give dad a makeover with mommy’s makeup. Fun in a weird kind of way. Good luck on your diaper free journey.

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