Potty Training Times Two

My three-year-old twins are in the throes of potty training. This is definitely harder on me than it is on them! My paranoia that they’ll have an accident is upped by the fact that I just bought new living room furniture, so I’m constantly imploring, “Do you have to use the potty yet?” “Are you still dry?” We’re using a combination of techniques: reward (animal crackers for each tinkle; chocolate candy for each poo); nudity (leaving their clothes off entirely while they’re in the house); threats (“If you mess your pants again, you’ll have to clean it up yourself!”); and frequency (having them sit on the potty every half hour). With twins, needless to say, this is a very time-consuming process!

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for potty-training any child. And, with twins, you have twice the guesswork because the method that works for one might not work for the other. One of your kids might prefer the big potty, while the other prefers the child-size one. One might be motivated by Elmo’s potty video, while the other one isn’t interested at all. It’s all trial-and-error. If one method doesn’t work, move on to the next.

With twins, one child may be ready to be potty-trained before the other. That’s okay. Focus on the child who’s ready and don’t worry about the other one for now. Chances are, once one is trained, the other will follow quickly thereafter. Try not to get angry with your kids when they’ve soiled yet another pair of pants (or bed or new couch!). Believe it or not, very few children enter kindergarten not potty-trained! But, naturally, we’d like it to happen a lot sooner. (The cost of diapers for parents of multiples consumes a huge chunk of their income!) In our home, the pressure is on because the boys can’t start summer camp at the end of May unless they’re fully trained . . . so the clock is ticking! Sometimes it takes a deadline to really motivate Mom and Dad to get the kids trained.

Here are some tips from other twins parents to help take the agony out of potty-training multiples:


· If you decide to purchase child-size potties, most parents of twins suggest that you get two. Oftentimes, twins like to go at the same time, or you can have a potty in two different bathrooms. Some parents move one or both potties into the twins’ bedroom(s) at night so they’re close at hand in case your twins need to make a “midnight run.”


· To give little boys more accuracy when they stand up to pee, throw Cheerios or a square of toilet paper in the potty and make a game out of aiming for them.


· Never compare your twins’ potty-training progress. The child who’s more difficult to train may become even more stubborn just to prove that he wants to be different! Let each child train at his or her own pace.


· Bribery is not a bad word when it comes to potty-training. In this case, it’s called a “motivational tool”! Try stickers, treats, special pants, colorful toilet paper—anything that might motivate your twins to train.


· When you ask your twins if they have to go to the bathroom, they’ll often say “no” and then have an accident two minutes later. Instead, just tell them, “It’s time to go now.” Don’t offer a choice. Keep up a regular schedule of taking them to the bathroom.


· If your twins attend preschool or daycare, coordinate your potty-training techniques with their caregivers. It’s important to maintain consistent techniques in potty-training.


· Once your children are potty-trained during the day, it’s perfectly normal if they still need diapers at night. Some children’s bodily systems just aren’t mature enough to alert them they have to “go” when they’re sleeping. Once they start waking up with dry diapers on a regular basis, you’ll know they’re ready to sleep without them.


· If your twins are experiencing a major transition in their lives—a move to a new house, a new sibling, a new preschool—it might not be the best time to introduce another new thing like toilet-training. Postpone it, if possible, until they’re not distracted by other stressors in their lives.


· Never leave your children in soiled clothing to punish them for having an accident. This can result in a sore bottom or rash, which will make them even more resistant to using the toilet.


Copyright ©2007 by Susan M. Heim. Susan is the author of It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence and Twice the Love: Stories of Inspiration for Families with Twins, Multiples, and Singletons .

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About Susan Heim

Susan M. Heim is an author and editor, specializing in multiples, parenting, women’s and Christian issues. Her books include "Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power"; "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More"; "It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence"; "Twice the Love: Stories of Inspiration for Families with Twins, Multiples and Singletons"; and, "Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year." Upcoming books include "Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family," "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Women," and "Moms of Multiples' Devotions to Go." Susan's articles and essays have appeared in many books, magazines and Web sites. She is a member of the National Association of Women Writers and the Southeastern Writers Association, and has a degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. Susan lives with her husband and four sons (two teenagers and twin grade-schoolers) in Florida.

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