Before Jack was even born, there was one thing I was already dreading.
Although I had worked at a daycare for several years and helped to potty train many children, it was something I did not look forward to with my own children.
It seemed like from the day he was born, I was seeing articles about the infamous three-day method at 18 months or why I should potty train him as an infant.
Instead of feeling motivated and empowered, I felt kind of annoyed. Can’t I just let my baby, well, be a baby?
So, I ignored all of that until Jack turned about two. I thought it might be a good time to try potty training him.
He wasn’t having it.
A year later, almost on his third birthday, we tried again. And he was potty trained within a day.
It was at that point that I realized the real secret to potty training:
There isn’t one.
Now, before you exit out or call me crazy, hear me out. This is for all those moms (like me) who might have felt a little frustrated at their child not potty training the “right” way or the “right” time. I know I only have one child who has been potty trained, but I worked in a daycare for two years with the two and three-year-olds, and I observed this time and time again. I also have lots of nieces and nephews and a mother who had six children, so I like to think I’ve seen many different stages of potty training! For every three-day potty training success story out there, there’s a story of a child who didn’t potty train until they were four, despite their parent’s best efforts.
You just have to show some patience.
I’ll admit, when I saw some of my other friends potty training their kids super early, I felt a bit like a failure. But then I remembered – he’s only two. Why was I in such a big rush?
[clickToTweet tweet=”No child will go to college without being potty trained.” quote=”No child will go to college without being potty trained.”]
Right before we moved to Colorado, we introduced the idea of the potty to Jack. He thought it was interesting, but he really didn’t seem interested or ready. Sure, I could have made myself stay at home for three days and try and get him to do it, but since we were moving and not even going to be living in the same place for more than two weeks at a time for over a month…it wasn’t the right time. The previous four months had been us constantly going different places, and I do believe a child needs a consistent environment to potty train.
So, right before Jack’s third birthday,I was talking to my sister-in-law, Charbel. She told me how she realized that when she was potty training her oldest, Benji, that she just didn’t need to stress out about it, and that he would eventually figure it out. And guess what – he did. After she told me this, I decided that I wasn’t going to worry about it either.
As I already said, right after Jack turned three, it’s like a light just turned out. We really hadn’t pushed potty training for a little while (beyond buying a potty chair), but one day we asked him if he wanted to wear big boy underwear (as we had done several times before), and he said yes!
We had tried this before without success, but this time, he pretty much potty trained himself in one day. We didn’t mess with him running around with no clothes on, pull-ups, or major messes. We didn’t even have to bribe him with treats or fancy sticker charts. He just was ready, and that was that. Easy as pie.
When we went to his three-year-old well-child appointment, the pediatrician said it was awesome that he was already potty-trained at the age of three, because, well, many boys aren’t. And that’s totally normal.
So, the secret to potty training is there isn’t one. All children develop at different rates, and what works great for one child might not work well for another. Potty training can be stressful for parent and child. Some children may take more encouragement than others. You may need to just take a break if your child just doesn’t seem to “get” it.
You can look for cues and their own readiness, it can be easier. Here are a few “cues” that might indicate your child is ready!
• Going for longer periods of time with a dry diaper
• Brings diapers to you, or tells you that they are going to go to the bathroom in their diaper
• Hides when they go to the bathroom in their diaper
• Shows curiosity in the toilet
• Child shows dislike and discomfort with a soiled diaper
There are so many ways to potty train, and I recommend looking into different methods. If you want to encourage your child more than we did – that’s great! But if you want to wait until they show they are ready, that’s great too. You can use sticker charts, treats, three-day-methods, no clothes, or even elimination communication (which starts in infant-hood) if that’s your thing! Just remember, no matter what you do, it does take patience and time. And you aren’t a failure if it doesn’t work the first time around.
While the allure of not buying diapers might make you push them a little harder, trust me, one day they will be potty trained.
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.