Potty training. Those two words are enough to strike fear into the hearts of first-time moms and veteran moms alike. I dreaded it like the pain of childbirth. Ok, maybe it’s not quite as bad as that but it’s a real struggle.
After my first son’s second birthday we introduced him to the little potty seat in the bathroom, just like our pediatrician suggested. Isaac thought it was pretty neat. We showed him what to do and anticipated that he would start using it any day. His babysitter took him to the potty at her house. We took him to the potty at ours. But we weren’t having much success. He wasn’t initiating any trips, he’d rarely agree to sit, and when he did sit on the toilet, he didn’t usually do anything.
By age three Isaac still wasn’t going potty often and threw tantrums about going. Actually, he threw absolute meltdowns every day about nearly everything and I strongly suspected he had autism or something like it.
His younger brother Josiah showed much more promise in potty training. At seventeen months, he told me, “Mommy, I go potty!” He led me into the bathroom and did his business. I was ecstatic and told my husband, “This one’s going to be easy!” Um, nope.
Once Josiah noticed that Isaac wasn’t enthused about the potty, Josiah didn’t want to go often. I don’t think he had total control over his bladder yet, anyway.
In order to solve our potty training woes, I read countless blog posts and too many expert opinions. We put up sticker charts, gave them cheap toys, bribed, explained why they should go pee on the potty instead of their diapers until we turned blue in the face, put them in pullups, dressed them in underwear at home so they’d feel the uncomfortable wetness, etc. Nothing worked. Nothing.
Finally, both boys simply learned to use the bathroom when they were ready. Josiah was three and Isaac was six. In case you don’t know, Isaac has special needs. He was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech along with developmental delays at age three and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) just before his fourth birthday. Children with these types of special needs often potty train later than their peers. By the way, Isaac still wears a pullup at night (I was a bedwetter).
So as baby number three entered the toddler stage, I began to feel the cold, dark sensation of dread. Potty training.
Micah has surprised me. I assumed with his (ahem) stubborn personality we’d be in for another potty training war. However, at nineteen months he asked to sit on the potty and has used it consistently at his request since then. We are not pressuring him at all. No watching the clock and going every hour. No forcing juice or water and then sitting him on the toilet. No asking him constantly if he needs to go. I guess you could say we’re doing Child-Led Potty Training.
I’m not advocating for one method over another for you and your child. The longer I parent, the more I realize I just don’t know much. What I thought would work for my older kids didn’t work and what I anticipated happening with my youngest child didn’t happen at all. He’s now two-years-old and acts very much like a two-year-old so he could balk and decide to go on a potty training hiatus. Who knows?
I’m not going to stress over it.