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Ok, I have something I have to get off my chest. I just have to!
There hasn’t been a week that I’ve been on Facebook where someone hasn’t been talking about “potty training”.
I’ve seen so many statuses regarding how difficult it is to potty train.
Then I love to read the comments. They range from “Just don’t give in, force them and they’ll get it!” or “Have you tried the 3 day potty bootcamp?” or my favorite (and I’m serious when I say this.. this one is my favorite…. “Maybe it’s so hard because, maybe your child isn’t ready yet.”
Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! It’s very possible that your child is not an active participant in potty training because he or she is simply just not ready yet!
Are you a parent that is asking ” Why Won’t My Toddler Potty Train?”
What I want!
What I really, really want is for us Moms and Dads to stop giving in to the pressure of what society feels should be done with our children! Who made up this idea that kids need to be using the toilet by age 2? Gosh, that’s a lot of pressure for us parents and especially for our little kiddos.
What we need is to start really focusing on the needs of our child. EACH INDIVIDUAL CHILD. Please start understanding that just because your first child could use the potty at age 2, that doesn’t mean that your other children will. And that also means if your BFF’s baby was hoping up on the porcelain and doing her business at 10 months, it doesn’t mean your child will do the same. It’s just like walking, my friends baby walked at 9 months, but I’m not going to force my child to walk at 9 months because he physically wasn’t ready. Remember, each child moves through developmental stages at their own pace. Please give them this opportunity.
Let Go Of Potty Training
Come on why is it even called “potty training.” Are we sending our kids of to some sort of POTTY WAR? I mean Potty Bootcamp? Seriously, this is not war people. If you just stop the whole potty training regimen and allow your child to hit the milestones needed then sooner or later your child will start using the bathroom. No, training needed! I promise, it’s that easy. The hard part is you letting go of the control. It really is just that simple. Stop trying to force it, Stop doing it on your watch, and Stop the training.
What? Stop the Potty Training!
Over the past 17 years I’ve worked with thousands of kids. (Ages birth through age 6). And one thing I have found true is that sooner or later children will start going to the bathroom, no training needed. Often times the more pressure you put on a child the less likely it is that they are going to do something. Most children are fully trained by age 3 and a half however I have personally seen children who take longer for various reasons. If your child is hitting age 5 (but typically most kids are independently using the potty by age 4) and is still completely resisting going to the bathroom then you may be dealing with another issue. The issue could be medical or psychological. In that case, please consult your pediatrician. I have seen kids who actually could not use the toilet for reasons in both categories.
What to do instead of Potty training
First let’s name it what it is. Going to the potty. Not “potty training”! Remember there’s no war here and if you feel like you are on the battle field then that’s an even better reason to give up on the “training”. And if you really feel like you need to put a name on it let’s call it “Potty Learning”.
Stop Making it About You
- I know diapers are expensive and you just really need your child to be out of diapers because it’s putting a dent in your wallet. However, this is really may not be fair to your child. if they are not ready. He/she should be able to develop in his/her own time.
- But you already have another child in diapers and can’t keep changing two kids. Well, technically you can. And you should until your child is ready.
- Everyone else’s child is already potty trained, I’m feeling like my child is behind. Trust me your child doesn’t care that his buddies are potty trained. Simply put, it’s not about you Mom/Dad. You just let your friends know that you are waiting for your child to be ready.
- My child can’t move to the next class or get in to preschool if he/she isn’t potty trained. I get it! That’s rough, but maybe you need to reevaluate the type of program your child is in. There are many programs that allow your child to participate and to move through classroom transitions based on milestones, not age. If you need more details on this (shoot me an email)
- get to know the signs of potty readiness (here’s a great list by the MAYO CLINIC)
- don’t force your child to go to the potty this may cause them to really HATE the process
- recognize that your child won’t be in diapers forever
- once your child starts using the potty understand and accept that they will have accidents
- stop comparing your child to everyone else’s and let go of the social stigma
- do not making potty learning a punitive experience
- make potty learning a positive experience
Start teaching your child how to potty (Potty Learning)
- Let’s admit it, kids are always in the bathroom with you. It’s like they have some sort of radar that detects every time you’ve gotta go. Since your toddler is in there with you anyway start the potty learning. Talk about what your doing, tell them what the toilet paper is for and explain what flushing the toilet is. Here’s some examples of promoting potty learning
“Mommy’s going to the potty because she has to pee.”
“Can you help me get the toilet paper off the roll so I can wipe?” (they don’t have to watch you wipe, although you know they do)
” Now, Mommy is going to flush the potty so all the pee and poop can go bye bye.”
” I have to wash my hands to get rid of all the germs. Let’s wash your hands too!”
- Reading books, singing songs and playing games that are about going to the potty are also all great tools to teach your child all about the potty.
Here are a few things that your child may enjoy.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood App
- Once your child has hit all the readiness milestones start the switch to underpants. Do not go back and forth between pull-ups on a daily basis. Use pull-ups for nap and night time only.
- Start taking them to the bathroom…. OFTEN. Don’t ask them if they need to go because they will probably say no. Just say “Ok it’s time for a potty break, let’s go.” If they refuse then explain to them the consequences of what will happen. “If you don’t go potty then you will wet your pants.” If refusal is so frequent then your child may not have met the readiness milestones and my have to go back to diapers until they are ready.
- If they have an accident, it’s no big deal. Explain, we all have accidents. Let’s change and remember the next time we get that feeling, we have to go to the potty.
- That’s it! IT’s that simple. When they are ready, they will learn how to go to the potty.
Lastly, please stop feeling pressured to have your child going to the potty by age 2. Most children are fully potty trained by 3 and 1/2 years. However, there are always exceptions. And that’s ok! I promise if you give up the potty training and wait for your child to hit those milestones then learning to go to the potty will be just as easy as when your child learned to walk. When they are ready, with your assistance they will go.
(always remember that if you feel your child has a psychological or biological condition that is stopping the potty learning process, please consult your Doctor)
What are your thoughts? Will you be able to let go of the stigma? Let us know your story!
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Jill Frank says
I agree! All 3 of mine were 3 or older when able to go to the potty on their own. I just let them do it. The 3rd was hardest for us, because she was completely ready and just holding out because she could. That got under my hide a bit. But, I let it go. Early in the summer, we warned her she wouldn’t be able to play soccer or go to school if she didn’t go on the potty, she didn’t care until about 2 weeks before things were to start. Then she did it. Little stinker. but hey, it is the one thing she could control, so we let her. Of course, she made the comment – hey, there really weren’t any monsters to come get me. Ahhh, the joys of older siblings…
Lesley @Chaotically Creative says
Love it! Jill it can be sooo frustrating but it really seems once we as adults let go then they usually come along when the time is right. I just hate how pressured parents seem to feel on this subject. Lots of times they do hold it even when fully trained because they just don’t want to miss out on something.
I agree in some ways and disagree in some ways… I am no expert in potty “training” and have no special degree in early childhood psychology BUT I feel like articles like this telling parents that average age for a child to go potty in an actual toilet is 3 1/2 to 4 is a disservice and misleading. My children may be just way different than other peoples, but I have been talking to them about their potty needs since they were born and both started showing signs and interest in using the real potty by 1 1/2. My 22 month old, which is in panties right now, started sitting on the potty and doing her #2 business when she was only 14 months by her own account. It seems like once they are aware that they are going potty (start hiding behind couches for example) by not offering them the real toilet to do their business in is teaching them that they SHOULD poo in their diaper, which seems completely unnatural and against their instincts. Their instincts are to do what mom and dad do… I really feel like being in tune (like you suggested!) to the potty readiness cues no matter how young and not waiting just because they are “too young” is helpful for them to not get comfortable going in their diaper. It seems like once they understand what they are doing and get comfortable with going behind the couch, squatting, pooing, then come out smiling… they might as well have been going to the toilet and doing the same and then not have to break their habit that they just formed, no? Just my take on the controversial debate, I know, lol! And I am not potty “training” my 22 month old for those of you concerned with her “young” age- she actually put on panties and refused to put on a diaper about a week before I went on spring break and was actually willing and ready to tackle full time panties BUT I wasn’t about to force a diaper on a child that was telling me she wanted panties. She told me she was ready and I listened. I have friends who have babies similar ages who are showing the same signs she is and I feel like they ignore those signs because they think they are too young and it is inconvenient to have a little one in panties… and because of course, the average age of potty training is 3 1/2 to 4 🙂 Thoughts? Am I just making this up… you know you all see them go hide in a corner and poo by about 1 1/2… they know what they are doing!
Lesley @Chaotically Creative says
I see what you are saying my boys were both going to the bathroom completely on their own before age 2. However I feel it is doing parents a complete disservice by putting pressure on the parents by saying that children should be potty trained earlier than 2. My kids and yours as well are in a smaller group of children that were ready early. Now keep in mind I never said don’t let your child go to the potty if they are ready (no matter what the age). My point is for parents to stop putting the pressure on their children when they are not ready. Many people tend to force this stage in development in order to keep up with their friends kids or a whole other variety of reasons.
Hiding in the corner at age 1 and a half is very early signs of potty readiness and many children will do this for months, even years before they fully use the potty. Keep in mind although you think that your friends kids are showing the same signs as your daughter they may very will not be ready cognitively or physical. I’ve rarely seen a parent deny a child to go to the potty if the child asks.(but it wouldn’t shock me if there was). Now if your friends kids are asking to go and their parents are denying them that then that’s a whole other issue. Again, there are many parents who believe the child should be going to the potty fully by age two and that simply isn’t realistic. I feel no matter the age you need to follow what your child wants otherwise it’s really a mute point. For you to listen to your child at 22 months is exactly what you should be doing. I just want to make it clear that the expectation to have your child out of diapers by 22 months or earlier may be very unrealistic because each child develops at their own rate of speed. The range for potty training is not age 1 to 2 but or even 3 to 4. I would say the age range is more like 18 months to 5 (but it there will be kids that fall on both sides of this age range as well.
Bottom line no matter what the age the child has to be ready and willing.
Thanks so much for adding such great thoughts to this conversation! Lesley