Potty training. Just the words alone are enough to strike dread into the hearts of parents. There are plenty of books and blog posts out there promising potty training magic to the hopeful masses with titles like: “18 Easy Steps To Potty Training Your Child” or “How To Potty Train a Kid in 10 Days.” But, I’m not here to give you a laundry list or detailed how-tos. I am here as a parent who has tried to potty train the same toddler twice. The first time was a failure. The second time was a success thanks to the very wise tip of a friend. I am here to share the one and only potty training tip you’ll ever need.
We first attempted potty training with my daughter just before her 2nd birthday, and it was a total failure. I chased her around the house trying to wrangle her into sitting still on the potty for more than eight seconds, and every pair of underwear was wet. But then, I received some brilliant advice from a friend who had just gone through a similar situation and had emerged victorious on the other side of potty training. I want to pass on her words of wisdom:
“Wait ’til she’s really ready.”
It seems too easy to be true, but it really is. I realized that I was feeling the pressure to potty train my daughter because all of the other people I knew with kids her age had potty trained kids. So, after that potty training fail I backed off. I put potty training worries out of my mind and decided to wait until my daughter was really ready, and about five months after her 2nd birthday, she let me know.
While we were standing in the kitchen one evening, she stopped and said, “Mama, I don’t wanna go potty in my diaper!” OK then! I took off her diaper and set her on the potty chair and she went. For the next couple of weeks, I kept the diapers on and simply asked her if she needed to go potty occasionally. Sometimes she said yes and sometimes she said no, but more often she asked of her own accord. After a couple of weeks of this we picked out some cute underwear and that was it. She’s only had a few accidents since, and it’s been a breeze. So much easier than when I was the one trying to push the situation. Sure, there were a few small incentives involved and fun new underwear, but what it really came down to was just waiting until she was really and truly ready to use the potty.
She still wears a diaper at nap time and bed time, but she’s waking up dry some mornings, so I know that soon she’ll be ready for that as well and it will be so much easier when I listen to her cues.
So if you’re feeling the stress to potty train, go easy on yourself and wait ’til they’re really ready. If that happens to be at 17 months or three years old…they’ll get it eventually on their own timing. And when they do, you can be there to help them succeed.