Put a Bib on It

Who’s less ready for potty training… my toddler, or me?


Photo courtesy of Manish Bansal.

Photo courtesy of Manish Bansal.

Everett turned 2 in May and at his check-up, his pediatrician asked me if we had started thinking about potty training. The answer is a simple one (yes!), but it’s complicated, too. My husband and I talk about it all the time, but we don’t really have a plan. I am terrified of potty training and I don’t want to do it. Of all the “developmental milestones” we have gotten through thus far, I feel this is the one I am least prepared for. I haven’t even fully figured out the best time to start or the best method.

It’s not like I haven’t tried to figure this potty training thing out. Just the other day in a meeting I asked a crowd of early childhood professionals what I should do. The first answer was that Ev was far too young; that children his age don’t even have the muscle capabilities needed to control their bladder or the motor skills to undress oneself, so it’s an inappropriate time. But five minutes later, another person told me she had her sons start coming into the bathroom with her husband when they were very young and they started using the potty when they were 11 months old. Quite contradictory advice!

And I have asked those who claim to have had low-stress, successful potty training experience how they did it. There are those who swear that a parent must take off work and let the child run around naked for a week, spending lots of time on the potty. And when the week is over, viola! Potty trained. Others have said it’s a long process that shouldn’t be rushed and sometimes having a reward system, like a sticker chart, can help. Of course, I’m despairing because neither myself nor my husband can take a week off of work just to potty train (if I’m going to take a week off, I’d rather be on a beach in St. Lucia!) and reward systems send my head spinning about the age-old controversy about children being intrinsically motivated to do something versus externally motivated.

But there have been a few signs that make me think Ev is getting ready to use the potty. He says he wants to go potty three or four times a week, and every time, my husband and I have taken him to the potty and sat him down. Nothing ever happens.

He is also telling us now when he has to poop or that he has pooped. (Yes, when he says he has to poop, we sit him on the potty. But again, nothing happens). His diaper is still quite full in the mornings but the pediatrician told me that’s not a good way to judge if he is ready to use the potty or not because some children just have more active bladders and may need support (i.e. pull-ups) at night even when “potty trained.” She also told me one good sign is when Ev starts to “hide” when pooping, which he hasn’t started doing. He did, however, poop in the bathtub two evenings in a row last week.

For now, I am just going to breathe. I don’t think we are quite there yet so I have some time. But I know one thing: I don’t want to force Ev into it. I want it to come naturally, just like falling asleep on his own and not using a pacifier. I have always been a believer in the power of positive thinking so, that’s my plan. I think it’s going to be a positive experience, so it will be.

4 thoughts on “Who’s less ready for potty training… my toddler, or me?

  1. My daughter (now 4.5) potty trained like a dream! When she moved to the toddler room at day care at 18 months, they started asking in a very casual way if she wanted to sit on the potty at each diaper change. We did the same at home. Had little interest but would on occasion. Then around 2.5 years old, she suddenly wanted too and basically trained within a week with only a handful of accidents.

    (though still wears Good Nites diapers at night) (oh and she had some major poop accidents after starting kindergarten but i think that stemmed from holding it all day at school) (so it hasn’t totally been a dream but it’s pretty good on the big scale of potty training)

    My little guy also turned 2 in May and we’ve barely even thought about it with him. He has NO interest in pulling down his own pants so I figure I’ll give it a couple months and see??

    We’ll have to keep in touch to compare notes!

    • Yes, please let’s share notes. When I ask Ev to help pull down his pants when he is getting in the bath, it’s like I am speaking French. And I know he understands me but just doesn’t want to do it.

  2. My greatest advice is be patient. I know that sometimes it’s completely difficult, but just like every previous milestone, it’s a must. Let him go to the bathroom with you and your husband. If you haven’t already, take him with you to buy his own potty (I am a huge fan of the plain white one by Baby Bjorn. There are several on the market that sing and have all sorts of fun things, but there are toys that do that and using the potty isn’t a toy.) Also, I loathe bribing/rewards for the SAME reasons you mentioned; however, while potty training Madeline I bribed. A lot. She knew she couldn’t have gum until she wore big girl panties and I went through a Sam’s Club bag of Dum Dum lollipops. Stay positive- it will happen. After all, like my Grandmother told me, he “won’t be graduating high school wearing diapers.” 🙂

  3. This is great advise Sarah. I’ve not seen the plain white plastic potty. I’ll have to look into it. I don’t like most plastic pottys. Thanks!!

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