I didn’t realize just how much potty training was a big deal until I taught preschool many moons ago and I had a student, a 3 year old, that wasn’t potty trained. It was shocking! How could this mom let this happen? Didn’t she know he was supposed to be perfectly trained in toilet use before he turned 3?!
At least that’s what I used to think way back when I was in my early 20’s, single, and didn’t have kids of my own. In other words, I was clueless and had no business shaming that mom or thinking she did anything wrong with her child.
Of course that was forever ago and I now have my own two boys and my own personal experience with potty training. By the way, I despise potty training and wish kids came out knowing how to use the darn bathroom, but that’s neither here nor there.
People have a lot of opinions about potty training. It’s actually kind of ridiculous how we are so involved in how and when other people’s kids learn to go in the toilet but for some reason we care and even have debates about it. That’s why I wanted to write this and share my two completely different experiences with potty training both my boys. I hope it helps even one mom out there struggling with this and maybe she’ll realize it’s not the end of the world!
Let’s take it back to 2012 when my first born David was 2 years old. Society tells us our kids need to be potty trained before they are 3, like it’s some magical rule we all have to follow. At the time I’d just given birth to David’s little brother Jacob so my husband and I wanted to get David out of diapers ASAP. We bought the little potty and followed all the tips, tricks, gimmicks, and any guide I found online to no avail because he was not at all interested in any potty. We certainly felt defeated but we just thought we’d try again in a few weeks, you know, give him some more time.
A few weeks later we tried again and nothing. Then a few months later we tried again and still NOTHING. I literally thought there was something wrong with us or our kid and it put a lot of unnecessary stress on everything.
When David was 3 he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder but he was considered high functioning and his diagnosis didn’t affect his ability to potty train. We thought it had something to do with it but the doctors and specialists all confirmed he was more than able to potty train he just didn’t want to. To read more on his Autism journey click here.
When he was 3 and a half we gave up on potty training and promised each other we’d just wait until David was really ready. Honestly, it was the best thing we could ever do. It took almost a whole year later for David to “get it” but when he did it was amazing.
At 4 and a half years old we took the little potty back out and from one minute to the next David pulled the inner part of it out, put it to himself and actually peed in the potty! We jumped up and down with excitement and he was proud of himself. It made us realize that he was going to train when he decided and it wasn’t up to us to rush him. I don’t know many kids that wait as long as David but it’s fine. He went from diapers to underwear in 1 day, it’s almost like he snapped and that was it. Once he was in undies he never ever had an accident or wet himself because he was completely potty trained.
With our younger son Jacob, things were completely different and kind of a disaster. I wanted to just wait and my husband agreed but Jacob was in daycare at the time and his teachers thought differently. He was 3 months shy of 3 years old and they pretty much shamed us into potty training even though we were sure he wasn’t ready at all. We sent them the undies every single day for daycare and they took care of training him. It was kind of nice that they did the hardest part but it was not a good experience overall.
Jacob was forced to potty train so he wasn’t really into it. He had tons of accidents all the time and it seemed like it took a full year before he stopped peeing on himself! I was so angry that I let other people force us into this decision and make us feel like inadequate parents when we were just trying to listen to our child. Jacob eventually figured it out but I know if we’d done it our way and just waited a little longer, he would’ve had a smoother transition.
So why share this with everyone? Not that discussing kids bathroom issues isn’t fun, but really I want other moms (and dads) of little ones to stop listening to the pressures from society and listen to their children. There is no one size fits all when it comes to potty training and just because one thing works for one kid doesn’t mean it will work for another.
As parents we are our children’s advocates and even for something like potty training we have to stand up for our kids and do what works best for them. You know your child better than anyone and if you think your 2 year old is ready to use the potty and learns in 3 days, that’s great. Just don’t go into it because you think it has to be done by a certain age or a specific way for it to work. Any age, whatever way, however many days, if you bribe them with candy, if you use a reward chart, pull ups, undies, anything you do to potty train your child, go into it with an open mind and tons of patience.
Make sure when you start potty training that you are comfortable, your child is ready and don’t let it get the best of you. Don’t worry, like they say, they won’t go to college in diapers!