This is a post from Mandy Pagano of Suburban Stereotype
Potty training. No two words can make my hair stand on end quite like those two words.
With six kids– four of them potty-trained– you’d think this would be a piece of cake for me.
But it’s not.
Our second youngest, who is 3 1/2, has no desire whatsoever to leave diapers. I am confident that I will be packing her princess pull-ups in her college boxes.
Not having kids potty trained by age three used to totally stress me out.
With our oldest three, I ranted and raved when they weren’t trained in the time frame I thought was appropriate. I encouraged, I rewarded, I scolded, I bribed…anything to get them going on the potty.
After taking a full year to train our last child (who is now five) I was so burned out on potty training that I wrote a funny little satirical piece called 24 Super Easy Steps to Potty Train Your Child (Before College). I was able to laugh about the frenzy I whipped myself into…all in the name of getting someone to go on the toilet!
For many, I know potty training is about more than a rite of passage; certain programs and most preschools won’t accept a child who is not potty-trained by a certain age. That can prove disastrous for the family who needs childcare.
The pressure mounts for both parent and child to hit that milestone by a certain time. I can totally sympathize with those who are faced with this situation. It can be difficult for children–who have never gone to the bathroom anywhere other than a diaper–to be re-trained to now go on a potty. Adding to the stress is a timeline of expectation that can increase anxiety exponentially for many kids.
Since I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I have the luxury of time. I admit this changes things considerably. After nine years, lots of tears, several tantrums (by me!), and 4 potty-trained kids, I can finally, finally say that I am no longer held hostage by the notion that there is a magical age by which each child should be potty trained. I’m taking the wise advice of our pediatrician: If you don’t ruin the “want to” for the child, they will train when they are ready.
I still do many of the things that I’ve learned are good for motivating:
- Introduce the potty. Keep it visible and easy to access.
- Praise every time they sit on the potty, even if it isn’t to “go”.
- Create a sticker chart or other fun way to keep track of when they do “go” on the potty.
- Offer an incentive (such as a new toy or coloring book, etc) for when they begin using the potty regularly.
But I have stopped doing some other things that only proved frustrating for us. While many of these tactics we no longer do work well for others, I found them to be counter-productive for us and only caused more angst.
The bottom line is: My child will [most likely] never walk down the aisle or graduate from high school wearing a diaper. As long as I offer access to and praise for using the potty, and don’t kill the desire on the part of my child, I can have a no-stress attitude about potty training.
What are some of your tips and tricks for potty training? Did you used to stress, but now you don’t?