As parents we see no wrong in expressing our displeasure at the smell, mess and inconvenience of changing a poopy. We'll say things like....."I can't wait until you are a big girl and can help Dad by using the toilet. Then we won't have to stop our fun to clean such messes!" or "This sure does smell yucky, if you put this in the toilet it is so much nicer (pointing to the toilet)!" Let's be honest with our children, it smells!

From our vantage point as parents, here are the developmental steps we have noticed to potty training.
1. Does not care if they are wet or yucky.
2. Shows concern or draws attention to themselves after they have wet or yuckied by crying or being naughty.
3. Shows brief interest in the toilet. Not in disappearance of the sock or wash cloth, but in what it is actually used for.
4. Can sit on the potty seat for brief moments, but hops off rather quickly as interest in something else takes their fancy.
5. Next comes the heart's-in-it-but-bodies-not-ready-yet stage. Tries hard, can even sit on the potty seat for 10 minutes, but never pottys with success when placed there.
6. At last the big day comes when a success actually happens. What a wonderful day! Although this is not regular...but a suggestion of things to come!
7. Frequently now pee-pee's in potty chair or toilet (although a percentage may hit the seat!).
8. Now comes the dawning light as they will come alert you when they have already gone potty in their diaper or training pants and not made it to the toilet.
9. Usually makes it to the bathroom to go peep and has a few accidents, especially when outside and being lazy, not wanting to come into the house, interrupting their fun. This is the stage when they wait until last minute running or hollering to the toilet.
10. Tries to use toilet paper by themselves, but either wads up half a roll and doesn't get the job done, or uses 2 squares and makes a mess. Better to help at this point using verbal instructions each time. Next, overseeing the process while they try is a good next step. Always stress washing hands when finished. Later this will rest your worry about what is on their hands when they come to help with dinner!
11. The grand finally, of course, is that they remain dry all day and all night.
Success is a good feeling...just ask them!

Keeping a sense of humor is one way of keeping our sanity. There is truth in the statement the bigger the boy...the bigger the mess! Finding reasonably priced, big diapers that work on big, active children can be some what of a chore. It can be disheartening to feel like this stage may never pass.....but truly worse things could befall us.

Tom and Sherry Bushnell are directors of NATHHAN, the National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network. You may contact them at