Put a Bib on It

Who Cares About Potty Training?

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My toddler will potty train on her own terms. And only on her own terms.I’m less interested in potty training than my daughter is.

I’m super intimidated by the amount of time and patience required of me to help her learn to use the potty successfully and consistently. I’ve never even litter box-trained a cat. It’s just so much simpler to keep changing diapers than it is to contrive to get her on the potty every half-an-hour, to contend with wet everything, to be afraid to leave the house in undies. The more I put it off the more diapers I wash, but still.

Until very recently, Miss E’s interest in the potty has been inconstant. She enjoyed flushing, reading stories about the potty, tearing off enough toilet paper for a dozen toddler bottoms. But it wasn’t enough. While I got a lot of the signs that she was socially, emotionally, and cognitively ready to use the potty, she just didn’t really care.

Big girl undies were a serious enticement. If she went on the potty, she could choose a pair and put them on. But getting her back on the potty before she had an accident was impossible. Her objective had been achieved: she was in big girl undies. If she peed in them? No big deal. Girl couldn’t care less about being wet.

Because friends at school were getting candy for going, we started offering it at home, too, which I’d insisted I never wanted to do. But not even the sugar-gilded promise of a Skittle was enough to get my willful girl to go.

At a conference with her teacher and school director recently, however, a topic of sincere interest to Miss E came up: moving to the preschool room. Her friend had recently made the switch from the toddler room, and according to the director, Miss E was the next logical choice for the move. But she needs to be completely potty-trained, which I’d been considering even giving up and trying again in a few months when I would have more energy to keep up. I thought this might be the real incentive that she needed, though, so we agreed to present this as a scenario for Miss E: if she wants to move up to the preschool room, she can’t wear diapers anymore. She has to use the potty every time she has to go. And my daughter?

She was on it.

Within days we didn’t even need to use training pants anymore. While she has had a few accidents – one of which, I’m sure, was intentional and inspired by her desire to pee on the floor just like a character in a story she likes – she tells me when she needs to go and then she goes. If I ask her if she needs to go and she says no, I trust her. That’s how serious she’s gotten about it.

The best part about this is that I’m not the one doing the work. She is. She wants it. I’d still be happily washing her diapers – and I do, because though she’s dry every morning, she’s not quite ready to give them up for number two – rather than fight her onto the potty all day long.

Ultimately, my interest in potty training didn’t matter one bit. Just hers.

Author: Jillian Kuhlmann

Mama. Nerd. Writer.

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