Why Potty Training Your Second Child Could Be Nothing Like Your First

As a first-time parent, I remember absolutely dreading potty training. It seemed completely overwhelming and I felt utterly unprepared. Slowly though, through a bit of trial and error, we figured it out together. It may not have been in the timing I’d expected, but in the end we got there, and it felt good.

Then, I had another baby and assumed I sort of had this potty training business down. So I went about it the same way — only to realize just how different it can be the second time. Here are a few things I learned.

1. Each child has a unique potty training experience.

Each child has a unique potty training experience and my children were no different. With my daughter (first child), she wanted to do everything in her own timing — especially when it came to potty training. I was determined that she would be potty trained by the time she turned two, but to my dismay, she had absolutely ZERO interest in any of it. Then, six months later, of her own volition, she decided she was ready for “big girl undies” and that was that. Within three days, she was fully potty trained — and less than a month later, she adamantly refused to wear her Pull-Ups at night anymore. Never had an accident and never looked back.

My son’s potty training experience, on the other hand, was a slower process. It started sooner — a bit before he turned two  but took a bit longer, with more setbacks along the way and a regression or two. We had to go back to using Pull-Ups again for awhile after he first switched over to underwear and we used them at night for nearly a year. But that doesn’t mean his potty training journey was a failure — it was just a different journey. He needed time and lots of encouragement, so that’s exactly what we gave him.He had more ups and downs and accidents along the way, but I can say that he finally figured it out in his own timing.

2. Your stage of parenting is different.


When you have just one child, it’s a bit easier to really focus in on potty training. I don’t want to scare anyone into thinking that it’s “harder” the second time around, because it’s not. Potty training your second child is simply different, because your stage of parenting is different.

With the first child, you could be more regimented and focused on potty training, but with the second, your attention is divided. You are now trying to meet the needs of your older child while simultaneously trying to keep your head in the potty training game with your younger one. It’s easier to miss those potty cues when you’re busy with another child, so there may be more accident clean up along the way. The upside is that you’ll probably be a bit less uptight and stressed out the second time around.

3. Children have different avenues of motivation.

Finding out what motivates your child is a big part of the potty training process. My first was all about treats as a reward for using the potty (dried cranberries were her favorite), my second loved a good sticker chart. Both of them were heavily motivated by praise. Whatever works best for your child, do that thing. It may take a bit of trial and error, but it will be well worth it.

4. You have much better perspective the second time around.

In both parenting and potty training, perspective is everything – and the good news for those of you tackling potty training a second time around is that you will have a much better perspective. The first time around, I stressed myself out over potty training. I worried when I noticed my daughter was taking a bit longer to potty train than some of her peers and I felt like it was never going to happen. With my second, I had the perspective that came from seeing my daughter through potty training already and realizing that potty training will eventually happen — in the perfect timing for your child. It made it a whole lot easier to let go and enjoy the ride.

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