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5 Things No One Tells You About Potty Training

04/22/2015 04:19 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015

There are hundreds of how-to potty training guides out there, many of which boast results in the space of a weekend. "Do A, B, and C and your toddler will be potty trained in three days!"

Before I began my torturous journey, I scoured the web for any advice I could find. I was looking for a no-fail, easy-on-the-mom, tried-and-true method, and there were plenty to choose from. But, once I actually started the potty training process, I realized that it was exactly the opposite of what I was expecting.

So let's be real for a second. I think we'd all agree that potty training is the worst. Personally, I'd rather walk through hot coals than desperately coax my child into peeing on the potty. But it has to be done.

Before you start the process, you need to know what you're getting yourself into, and I'm here to lay it out for you:

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1. You might have to wait until they're 3 or 4.
Gasp! 3 or 4? Not my child! But, alas, it's true. Everything I've ever read says you have to start when your child is 2, but I didn't find either of my children to be competent enough at only 2 years old, and they weren't interested until after their third birthday, anyway. And, guess what? They are happy and well-adjusted!

2. It will be a struggle.
It's gonna take loooong days of consistent prompting and constant cheering. Some of my worst memories include holding my screaming child on the toilet, trying to convince her it was OK to poop there. Be prepared. It's physically and emotionally exhausting work, and you won't be able to call in sick.

3. Sticker charts don't always work.
I can't complete a sticker chart for myself, let alone my children. I think we started three or four before finally realizing we hated them. I like using fruit snacks (or gummy vitamins) as an incentive for my kids and that has worked for us. I do know a lot of people who have done well with sticker charts, but it may not work for you, and that's OK.

4. You will probably have to physically handle poop at some point.
Getting a little person to understand their bodily functions is difficult. While they're trying to figure it all out, you may happen upon a log of misplaced feces in the middle of your freshly-mopped kitchen (true story). It will astound you how up close and personal your relationship with fecal matter will be.

5. It will take longer than three days.
You'll probably get your child familiar with the potty in three days, but they definitely won't master it in that amount of time. Unless you're raising a certified genius, you can pretty much plan on potty training taking a few weeks. You'll want to give yourself daily recovery time after the escalated power struggles.

Yep, potty training blows. But take heart! The key is to find what works for you, and not determine your successes or failures based on someone else's opinion of how potty training should be. Don't stress yourself out with how everyone else is doing it or how quickly someone else's child was potty trained, it will only result in unnecessary anxiety.

Trust me when I tell you your kid will not go to college in diapers. And one day, when he does finally graduate, you can remind him how you used to wipe his teeny, tiny tushy and embarrass him in front of his friends. It's small, but ultimately a nice reward for having to endure the nightmare that is potty training.

This post first appeared on Melanie Meditates.
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