My poor first born child. She bore the brunt of all our parenting naivety and experimenting. I feel kinda bad, looking back. So much of what I did was the result of me trying to please others. Me trying to look like I knew what I was doing.
As a young mother, it is good to listen to the advice of more experienced parents, but it’s best to take advice from somebody who has had multiple children… recently. When you take lessons from someone who has only had one child, you may be repeating some of the same mistakes they never had a chance to learn from. And if your adviser hasn’t had young ones at home for a while, it may be easy for them to forget how much compassion and patience goes into training a child daily. I definitely think new parents should seek out advice, but be sure that you avoid rigidly following what somebody tells you to do. Each child is different, and requires different approaches.
This has been my experience, anyways.
Because I felt pressured to do what I thought everyone around me expected, potty training my first born was a horrendous ordeal. At 14 months old, I had that child sitting on a potty. Several people told me that their children were potty trained before they were two, so felt compelled to keep up with their game. She cried at first, and hated sitting there, but I made her. She had to get used to it. Every now and then she would pee-pee, and I’d be ecstatic. But it was hit and miss.
My days became dedicated to potty training. Every hour I would take that child to sit on the potty. After many months of this, she did start going in the potty more often. But only if I took her. She would never tell me she had to go. Granted, she was advanced for her age, but looking back, she totally wasn’t ready yet.
When she turned 2, I fully committed her to “big girl undies”. I was not going to have a two year old in diapers. What would the other moms on the playground think?
I bought potty books, a potty “buddy” that she could take with her to the bathroom, we did potty charts and stickers and rewards. I brought her with me to the potty to show her how great it was to go. “Look at me baby, I went potty! Yay for mommy!” I even had a silly song and dance I did when she went. She enjoyed all of the fun stuff, and she did start telling me she had to go more often, but she was still somewhat unpredictable. And she wasn’t staying dry overnight yet, either.
As a result of my pushing, there were many accidents to clean up. In the car. In the grocery store. At the mall. I shake my head at myself as I type this. Forcing her into undies before she was ready caused a lot of stress for us all.
Finally when she was three, she just got it. All of a sudden, she was going to the potty all by herself, she wasn’t having accidents anymore, and she was staying dry through the night. No rewards, or bribes. She just got it! It wasn’t up to me to tell her she was ready, she had to decide that on her own.
When our son was born, I took a much more laid back approach. I was in no hurry to get him to the toilet. Yes, we encouraged him to try. And we let him watch us go so he understood the concept. But there was no potty chart, or stickers, or undies before he was ready. And at 2 yrs. old he started going all on his own.
For a while there, he only did it if he didn’t have a diaper on. So I let him run around the house all day bare bottom for about a week. If I put pants on him, he’d wet them. But as long as he could feel that nothing was there to absorb the pee, he’d run to the potty every time. After several days of getting into the habit of going to the potty when he felt it coming, he was ready for undies. Then pants over his undies. And he never looked back. (Although, I do need to add that on a rare occasion he did wet the bed at night up until he was five.)
Our third born, Xia, is now 3 1/2 years old. It was about four months after her third birthday that she decided she was done with diapers, and was ready to move into big girl undies. She’d been pottying for a while, but I never forced her to go, and I definitely never took her out in public in undies. When she started taking herself to the potty regularly, I allowed her to run bare bottom around the house for a while, like I had with Ty. Then we moved up to wearing undies all day around the house. When she consistently kept them dry, we put pants over her undies. Once she was accident free around the house, we went completely diaper free. So far, she has never had an accident away from home, and she has never had an accident overnight. For a while there, she would wake up at about 3am and go potty, but now she can sleep from 7pm to 7am without getting up anymore.
After potty training two girls and one boy, this is what I have learned. There is no point in rushing the inevitable. It will only stress everyone involved out. Your child will learn how to use the potty. I promise. Almost all kids are completely potty trained before they are four years old. Have patience with your child, and gently encourage them along. Don’t worry what other people will think. Everyone will have an opinion of everything you do, but they are not the ones you need to be focusing on. Be attentive to the needs and maturity of your individual child, and do what is best for him/her.
When the time comes for introducing your child to the potty, when he or she expresses an interest or desire in going, then be sure to make it an exciting achievement you are proud of. For how-to potty training tips, check out My Best Potty Training Advice.
I’d love to know your experience or advice. Did you wait to potty train, or did you feel pressured to rush your child?