Potty Training is Rough—Solidarity From Strangers Makes It Better

One Redditor was relieved—pun intended—when kindness from a stranger made a trip to the public bathroom with her toddler more enjoyable.

Child sitting on toilet. Feed are visible.
Photo: Getty

The end of diaper changes is a major milestone for parents. It frees up time and, if we're being honest, makes life less gross.

But you've got to earn it by helping your kid through potty training. It isn't easy. Kids may resist, have accidents, and even cry when their poop goes down the toilet. Some parents are hiring potty training consultants to help them get over the hump.

There's nothing wrong with getting help when you can. But sometimes, it's the support of a complete stranger in the stall next to you that reminds you it's all going to work out, as one Redditor recently learned.

The Reddit parent, who goes by u/Troggles86, posted about a recent experience at the aquarium with her 2.5-year-old son in the Toddlers subreddit.

"My 2.5 yo son is getting the hang of potty training, but we are still in the phase of rewards (currently, he gets a small cookie after successfully peeing in the toilet)," the Redditor explained. "I knew he needed to go, so off to the bathroom we go. Once in the stall, he became very resolved that he did not need to pee."

But the family hadn't even gotten through half of the aquarium yet. This parent knew she had to get her kid to take a leak.

"Remember, you get a cookie if you go?" the Redditor told her son. To which the son replied, "Oh. Well, that's different."

That's when the woman in the next stall piped up.

"Did he just say, 'That's different?'" the woman apparently said.

The Redditor confirmed, and the woman responded, "Cookies always make the difference."

The mom agreed.

"We were both cracking up," the Redditor said. "Kiddo successfully peed in the toilet and got his cookie once his hands were washed. I was not expecting to have shared a funny moment in the bathroom with a stranger, but it absolutely made my morning…Thank you, kind stranger, for laughing."

The thread is full of comments from other strangers who were down for a bit of toilet talk.

"Last time I was in a public bathroom with my 3-year-old, the person beside us let one go. My son says as loud as possible, 'Who tooted?' Thankfully, the culprit was giggling," said one person.

"Someone in a rest stop bathroom must have been holding it in for ages because they were going at it for an almost comically long time. My then 3-year-old said, 'That's the biggest pee ever,'" wrote another.

"My daughter apparently had a conversation with the woman in the next stall about how everyone poops, but the doggos poop outside, and that's okay," someone replied.

"Toddlers in public bathrooms are hilarious, except when it's your own, it's kind of embarrassing. My 2.5-year-old says, 'Who's there?' if she hears someone in a stall near us. And regardless of if they answer, she says, 'Are you pooping?' I'm just trying not to laugh and cry at the same time and ask her to mind her manners," another commented.

You have to love little kids. They're so observant and have not yet developed a filter.

A laugh with strangers can help. But if you're struggling with potty training, try these tips:

  • Know the signs of readiness. Kids aren't necessarily ready for potty training at a certain age. Look for signs they are set to take the plunge, including interest in potty training, hiding while pooping, and telling you if their diapers are dirty.
  • Understand accidents happen. Avoid acting upset or punishing a child if they have an accident. Play it cool and know there's always next time. If the child has frequent accidents for weeks, it may be a sign they weren't ready to start potty training.
  • Prepare for regressions. Stress, health issues, or fear are all triggers of potty-training regression. Regressions usually don't last long but can require you to go back to diapers for a bit. Gentle reminders and reward-based potty training can help you get your kiddo back on track.

Potty training can be stressful. Patience, love for your kid, and a little humor can help you tackle the toilet challenge together.

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