A friend of mine was recently rejoicing that her daughter was potty trained. YES!!! Such a huge milestone for child and parent!!! It reminded me of my days of potty training and what I learned from it.
My mother-in-law had often shared how she potty trained her sons. Man was the oldest so he was trained first but his brother was close to follow as they are only 14 months apart. As their 2nd birthday approached she prepared them that when they turned 2 they would no longer wear diapers. When they turned two they would be big boys and would start to use the big boy potty! It was made to sound like something they would want to do and very exciting. (Note: boys/men never want to go in the potty. Trees, bushes, off a cliff, yes but a potty is never their first choice.)
When My Man was 2, My MIL took away diapers. Her children were never allowed sweets but as incentive she offered them an M&M every time they used the potty. The method worked quickly, as she recalled, but I also have learned that people don’t really remember these things quite clearly… Like child labor, we know it was hard and painful but if we REALLY remembered we probably wouldn’t do it again.
When Buddy was a baby there were two other methods that I had heard of at that time. One claimed that you could potty train your infant. Basically every hour or so you took your baby to the potty and held them over the potty. If they didn’t go, that was fine but if they did….Looky! Baby peed in the potty!! This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. Baby is not potty trained. Mom and Dad are. I was a slave to my baby enough as it was, jumping to tend to his every need with every fuss or cry, not to mention singing and dancing to keep Buddy well entertained. I was not about to add Potty Time to the repertoire.
The other trend was to potty train your toddler in one day. I’m sure there is more to it than this but the basic gist was that you spent a day roped off in the kitchen or some other tiled area with your tyke. They are naked from the waist down and the potty is there ready for them to use. You can also have a baby doll that you can sit on the potty to demonstrate/encourage use by your kid. By the end of the day, your little genius is potty trained!
And what does that mean exactly? To me it means your kid uses the potty all day during the DAY. Lot’s of kids have a harder time with night time but that does not mean they are not potty trained. I also think it means that your kid is using the potty with out you having to take them every hour or so. That is training. Not trained. There are always the requisit reminders to “go” before we leave the house but to have to take or ask your child to “go” every hour or so is not potty trained. In my opinion. Consider if they are not with you, say at a sitters or in school. Will they have an accident? Will they listen to their body and respond appropriately on their own? That’s trained.
I decided my MILs way of potty training was the way I would go. I mean, who doesn’t want quick and easy? This sounded quick and easy. As Buddy’s 2nd birthday approached we got excited about The Potty! He watched others use the potty and we all patted each other on the back whenever we made it to the toilet. For his second brithday I got him his very own potty and all kinds of cute new undies with his favorite characters on it! (My mom claims I was potty trained by simply buying me pretty panties. I didn’t want to mess them up and so I used the toilet. Maybe? Doubtful.)
Finally Buddy was two and I had the M&M’s ready! He was not enticed by the candy though and I found myself stuffing hand-fulls of them in my mouth as comfort food while I washed load after load of soiled underwear. We tried different incentives to try and up the ante. Didn’t work. After a couple of months of that I was done with wet and muddy underwear and switched to the glorified diaper: Pull Ups. We kept on with the bribery tactics but with out me having the messes we had before. Still Buddy would not go in the potty.
Then I tried taking away inventives and tried punishments. At 2 1/2 he should know better now! Now fun things were taken away or time outs were enforced when he went in his pants typically paired with a scolding. I cringe to recall that… Poor Buddy! I later learned that a child’s bladder muscles are not fully developed enough to hold urine until they are about 3 years old. Obviously this is different for every child, just like when they start to walk, talk, etc. but MOST kids are not physically able to hold their urine until 3 years old. Learning this and then looking back at punishing my son for something he couldn’t physically do is heartbreaking.
Great article on potty training:
I particularly love the line: “If you start at 2 you’ll be done by 3; if you start at 3 you’ll be done by 3.”
I remember visitng our pediatrician and he had Buddy stand on one leg and then the other to test his balance. Buddy did great!
“He’s ready for you to take the training wheels off of the bike!” the doctor announced.
We would never sit an infant or a one year old on a two wheeler with out training wheels and then shake our heads in dissapointment for their not being able to ride because they are not developmentally ready but society has lead us to believe that potty training is an exception. I know a lot of preschools or mother’s day out programs require that your child be potty trained before being able to attend. If your child is not yet 3 I would bring in articles or even a note from your pediatrician explaining to them how this requirement is WRONG and hurtful to our children. I would also find a place that understands child development and accepts them for how they are. It’s also not nice to pressure your child to be potty trained because you are having another baby. That’s not your kids fault. If you want to avoid double diaper duty, go for 3 years apart instead of two. Of course, sometimes when the sibling arrives is out of ours hands. Just remember it’s such a short time that you will be wading through poop and pee! It really is!
About this time Bug had arrived. I was really not liking the double diaper duty. I remember changing Bug one day when Buddy walked in with no diaper on and proudly announced that he had pooped! Indeed he did. On the floor. I was furious! We were trying to sell our house and I was trying to get the boys out because a realtor was about to show the house. Something about making my little boy cry made me realize I had to change my methods. I dropped potty training completely until the move was complete.
Once we moved I started Training again but this time with a new reward system: Hugs and Kisses. Every time Buddy went potty in the toilet (whether prompt or on his own) I dropped everything I was doing and chased him all over the house cheering wildly! Once caught I kissed him from head to toe and toe to head! When he went in his pants, I did nothing. And I mean NOTHING. No lecture on how he needs to go in the toilet, no words of encouragement either, i.e. you can do it! Maybe next time! I quietly would remove the soiled clothes, changed him into cleans ones and sent him off to play. Not to say I didn’t say anything, just nothing about potty training. I ignored it.
Others in my life disagreed with this method. After over a year of prep and practice the boy surely must know what he should do. I don’t doubt that he did know. He just wasn’t physically ready. I can’t remember when it finally happened….before 3? After? I just know it was in the vicinity of 3 that Buddy was finally trained. It wasn’t until after his success that I learned about the physical development required for a child to be trained. It’s not just something they learn but something that their body has to grow in to.
Knowing that made things much easier for Bug! As his 2nd birthday approached there was no talk about the potty. No underwear purchases made. Not even Pull Ups. A few months after 2 I think we did finally switch to Pull Ups because I found them so much easier to just rip off when dirty and have him step into clean ones then trying to get a moving little boy to lay down for a diaper change. We took a road trip to visit my Grandma when he was about 2 1/2 and he did not have a single accident! Not in the car, not at Grandma’s. It was perfect and I thought he was potty trained. Once home he went back to his old ways of going on the go. Still, I did not pressure him to use the toilet or constantly ask if he needed to “go.” I’m sure I made a request for all to use the toilet before leaving the house and before bath time and bed time but that was about it. Sure enough, a few weeks before turning 3, Bug got it! SO MUCH EASIER than how things went with Buddy!
Great chart of development and training tips for each stage here:
Sorry I can’t figure out how to get links to show on my page… Poop. Hahahaha!
Some kids, mostly girls, are able to be potty trained (and I mean the real deal) when they are 2, but be kind to yourself as a parent and expecially to your sweet child when they are not ready until 3. This is not a failure. It’s very age appropriate. I would venture to say the Potty Training in a Day thing would work with a toddler who is near the age of 3. But why go through Potty Bootcamp? Just sit back and let things naturally progress. It WILL happen! As I told a friend who’s child was 4 and still not using the potty: “I promise, he will not be going out on his first date in diapers.”