A mother wrote to me that she needed some advice on potty training. The note sounded stressed out, so I asked her the child’s age. Her little one was just over two years old, and she felt pressured to potty train since so many of her friends had been successful and her wee one just couldn’t get the hang of it.
“I feel like such a failure…” she lamented.
And my heart broke for her.
Folks, there are books and websites dedicated to potty training. I’ve heard of some parents training their children as young as under a year old…and hey–good for them. I know some families have different factors to determine when they train their child, like daycare/school rules and maybe even budget constraints (diapers are not cheap!). But I’ll tell you my theory and agree or not– it’s worked for 13 children (I still have two in diapers), so I can attest to it’s validity!
I wait until they are three years old.
Can you train a child prior to three? Of course you can. But by waiting until they are three the child is beyond capable of understanding, paying attention to their body signals that tell them they need to go, and in general the whole process takes less than a few days! I continue to use pull-ups or diapers for naptime and bedtime until three and a half, and by four years of age the pull ups are gone at bedtime completely.
Listen, when Daly Kay was one and a half, we tried to potty train. When she was two, we tried. At two and a half, we tried. I remember just before she turned three and I had newborn Blissy and 15 month old Ryli…Daly Kay came running up to me in her adorable overalls with a little Peter Pan collared blouse, brand new saddle shoes to tell me she had just had an “accident”…she had pooped and peed in those overalls and all over her new shoes! With a crying newborn and a wandering toddler, I felt completely frustrated and overwhelmed with the now 20-minute clean up I had in front if me. So I put the diaper back on her and decided to wait. I waited until Blissy was about 6 weeks old and sleeping through the night for a few consecutive hours. I waited until I had a few days where I knew I would not be going anywhere and could focus. With a full night’s sleep and a few free days at home, I focused on potty training and in less than a week we had it down.
Daly Kay is now almost 20, and she graduated high school while simultaneously receiving her a bachelors degree in liberal arts at 17 years old, so her intelligence is not in question in relation to her “delayed” potty training. All of her siblings are happy, healthy and in need of no therapy for my toilet training tactics…so mommies– take it easy on yourself.
If it takes longer than your friend’s kids for your children to toilet train, relax.
I waited. I was late to the potty-training party compared to all of my friends at the time…and in the end it makes no difference.
And for heaven’s sake– promise me you won’t let some other mother’s “success” cause you to feel like a failure or a flop. Parenting is an ultramarathon…not a sprint! If someone’s ahead of you at mile three in a 100 mile race– who cares?
All that really matters is that you encourage each other to FINISH the race!