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As a parent to 3 year old twin boys, I can tell you that potty training is a real beast. I’m a little embarrassed to admit we’ve been casually working on it for about six months and now that we are 3 weeks away before the start of preschool, I’m really feeling the pressure.
I know that the timing is beyond my control; children will reach this developmental milestone only when they are good and ready.
Having said that, I do believe there are lots of great tips to help encourage potty training with twins when it’s apparent that they are ready to take on the challenge.
This is my fourth rodeo in the toilet arena. There’s no sugar-coating potty training with twins, it is as difficult and stressful as anyone could imagine.
There’s a lot of advice circulating around the internet, believe me I’ve read just about everything I could find. I’ve settled on some methods that are finally working for us.
I hope that the advice I’m about to share will help you too. We’ve got to have each others’ backs, right mama?
When to Potty Train Twins.
The best time to begin potty training twins is typically around two years old, when they reach certain cognitive and behavioral milestones.
In layman’s terms, this means they’re talking about it and showing you they know when they’ve got a dirty diaper.
This doesn’t mean you need to wait until they’re two, certainly there are exceptions and children may be ready before this.
Here are a few signs that your child is ready to start using the bathroom:
- Grabbing at a wet diaper
- Hiding or squatting when they need to go
- They are able to pull their clothes on or off.
- Understands toilet talk
- Interested in copying you or pretending to use the potty
- Having fewer or predictable dirty diapers
- Starts to show interest in private parts
- Let’s you know when they have to go, or after they’ve gone potty
- Has dry periods around 2 hours during the day or naptime
Don’t Rush Things.
I have to constantly remind myself not to rush things, though we are all anxious to be rid of diapers. With twins it’s not only financially hard, but physically draining with double diaper duty.
There are good reasons not to push potty training prematurely though. Kids need plenty of time to eliminate their bowels freely while they are still growing and developing. If forced to train early, you may end up with more accidents, and they can other problems, such as constipation, from holding their bladder too long.
Pee and Poo is Not Equal.
You will quickly learn that getting your kids to go pee pee (#1) is easier than getting them to poop in the toilet (#2). It certainly is exciting to watch their first successes, but don’t get discouraged if number two takes longer. It’s all a matter of bladder control and recognizing those feelings which is harder for kids who are just learning how to use the potty.
Predicting the best time to start potty training also depends on whether you have boys, girls or both. There are differences between the two that may affect when and how boys and girls begin potty training. For example, I hear a lot of parents say that boys will take longer. Oh boy!
Keeping a Positive Mindset.
With a pair of little stinkers on hand, you know you’ll be spending more time in a bathroom than you’ve ever imagined possible. The potty-training period is going to be the ultimate test to your patience as a parent, and if you want to survive with your sanity intact, you absolutely need to keep a positive mindset.
A positive mindset is not only going to create a healthy dynamic between you and your tots, but it will help keep your stress levels in check. Don’t forget to let your partner and anyone else involved for the sake of consistency.
Prepare the Kiddos Ahead of Time.
Before you get started with potty training your twins, it helps to prep them with stories, songs and conversations that get them excited to be a big kid.
Make a big deal of the big kid panties so that they view it as a privilege.
Show them how you do it, and make a fuss of it to help create positive excitement about using the potty.
You may even begin introducing the idea around 18 months old so that when it comes time, they will be even more excited to get started.
Once it’s begun, you can include these activities in a morning ritual, since children thrive on routine and predictable activities.
Try your best to avoid negative responses when one of your twins have had an accident. Even if your laundry pail full to the brim soiled underwear, take a deep breath and try your best not to express any displeasure. For example, don’t comment: ‘this is stinky’, ‘yucky’, ‘that’s dirty’ etc.. Instead, reassure they can try again.
Why They Don’t Get it.
You may be wondering how you can possibly get your twins to do what you want them to do. It’s obviously gross, the idea that they repeatedly poop and pee in their pants, so how come they aren’t on board with potty training?
The reality is two or three-year-old children do not always understand the connection between their actions and the consequences. This is something they will have to learn as they begin to mature developmentally.
Two for One.
Twins are share many similarities, especially if they are identical. Identical twins are a bit more predictable in their routines. I know that my boys are more likely to use the potty (or have accidents) around the same times. However, you cannot expect them to be on the same schedule all the time.
Respect their Individualality.
You may find that one twin is having more success with their potty training while the other is a little behind (no pun intended). Don’t keep both in diapers just because of the one who needs more time; that will only put a damper on what you are trying to accomplish and discourage the child who is doing well.
Reward Systems for Potty Training.
Ordinarily my go-to system would include lots of rewards and incentives. As an experienced mama, I won’t judge if you need to do the same.
I think it’s best to avoid reward systems for twins, it doesn’t work the same as with singletons. The same goes for sticker charts or other visual reminders that could cause one feeling overshadowed or left behind by the other.
I will occassionally pull out a bribe card, but reserve it for the most desperate situations (think public restroom tantrum).
On the other hand, you try to create a positive competition, in which they can encourage each other. For example, verbally praising one while the other listens.
My boys are definitely competitive. As an example, if one is refusing to use the potty, I’ll start calling the other and that is enough to change his mind. Just use this carefully because it could easily backfire or create more resistance.
Do continue cheering every time they make in the potty, create a fuss, give “high fives”, sing a song, and dance it out. My twins absolutely love it and they never refuse a good party.
Potty Training Hacks
Here are some really clever potty-training hacks that will give you a leg up with your twins:
- Easy clothes – This is not the time to razzle and dazzle. You’ll be changing those bottoms frequently so grab some loose-fitting pants.
- Naked Time – Yup, take those bad boys off and let them run free like the wind. Even if you can set aside a good block of time (4-5 hours) every day, this will help them become more aware of their bowel movements if and when there’s an accident. Hopefully you’re one of the lucky ones without carpet.
- Sync it Up – Help your twins get on the same potty schedule by keeping two toilets available in the same bathroom. That way you can narrow down the number of daily trips.
- Keep them Occupied – Toddlers have a very short attention span, so expecting them to sit for any length of time is like expecting pigs to fly. You can try giving them a book to read when they need to do the doo, or even put them on the toilet backward with washable marker so they can doodle on the back of the toilet seat!
- Watch Out – If you want to get fancy, try using a Potty Training Watch. This will sound off an alarm every interval of time as a reminder to head to the loo. Sounds fun but I’m not sure how long this will keep them entertained. I’d say it’s worth a try.
- Potty Poms – If you feel your twins respond better with a reward system, you can put together a pom pom jar in place of candy or sweets. They will enjoy seeing their jar fill up every time they use the bathroom.
- Target Practice – Try using cheerios for target practice in the toilet. Boys will especially like playing this game.
- Food coloring magic – Wow your twins with a little food coloring in the caboose and let them do their unicorn business.
- Puppy pads – Have you noticed how expensive baby products are? Why not grab some puppy pads or bed wetting pads and use it for nap time training when they are ready for it.
Share Your Thoughts!
I hope receiving tips from a fellow twin mom – in the trenches – has been some help and encouragement to you. I would love to know about any other hacks you have in your mommy tool kit you think I should include in this article (just leave a comment). Good luck to you!