“Is he potty trained yet? How old is he? Is he wearing big boy undies or still wearing diapers? Isn’t it annoying to still have to buy diapers? Is he going pee pee on the potty yet? What about poopies?” I have heard it all and I could go on and on.
Why? Just whyyyyyyyy is everyone so fascinated, opinionated, and outspoken about when kids finally potty train? Now, let me just say, I know that in certain cases and for some programs, a child must be potty trained in order to attend. I get it, I do. Some parents have to go back to work earlier than others and they need their kids to be ready. I’m not talking about those circumstances. I’m talking about when a child who is living their best toddler life at home and someone comes along and has to put the pressure on. And that pressure hits both mommy and baby unnecessarily. Hey, maybe the mom and dad are the ones trying to make it happen because they’re done with diapers. To each their own and that is just fine! I am not in the business of judging and I definitely won’t start now. But let’s say mom and baby are quite happy with the way things are. They are happy going on their own timeline. Who is to say that their timeline is wrong?
My daughter Reagan potty trained at 3.5 years old and my son Johnny was almost 4. I know some will think that’s too old (ahem, Mom). Luckily, I don’t care what people think about my parenting choices. To me, this was absolutely fine. I knew they would do it when they were ready. I had enough going on that I didn’t really feel like overwhelming myself (or my kids!) when the timing wasn’t right. I decided I would wait for the signs. I would let them show me when they were ready. Here’s what I noticed:
- They were both becoming more independent. They would be able to do things for themselves and be able to let me know their needs through a conversation. And the cutest part, was they were proud of themselves.
- They would tell me that their diapers were wet. “Mommy, I did a poopy in my butt!”
- They would sit on the potty and test it out. Sometimes they would even pull down their diapers and go on their own. Success! (And sometimes they would act like they never saw a toilet before).
- They were interested in the process and the possibility of rewards!
I never made it stressful and I tried to never use shame. I learned early on that certain kids have physical issues that can impede their ability to use the bathroom, especially for number two. Constipation can be a total detriment to potty training. I’m not going to say I was perfectly patient through the process. When my middle guy’s fourth birthday was looming, there were a few times I lost my cool. “Why didn’t you tell me you had to go?!” This was after multiple poopie accidents, multiple times a day for months straight all while nursing a newborn in Covid quarantine, and no second set of hands. I would then cry afterwards and we’d cry together. I’m not proud of that time, but it’s the truth of what happened. There were also some food intolerances in the mix that were unbeknownst to me at the time.
I am currently in the midst of training my youngest who just turned three. And I use the term training loosely. When he wants to go on the potty, great! We make a big deal and he loves it. I casually ask him all day long if he has to go and he always says no. Fine. He’s busy playing and never wants to be bothered so I let it go. But every now and then he’ll say that he has to go and proudly marches himself over to his little throne. It’s on his terms and that’s fine with me.
Maybe you wanted to read this and get some useful strategies, tips, and pointers on how to train your child in three days or over a long weekend. I wish I was one of those parents to say that I read all the books, trained them in a flash, brought the potty everywhere we went and put Cheerios in the toilet to aim at. But I just wasn’t. I waited until communication was solid and consistent between me and my kids. And that just worked for us. I was happy, they were happy and it taught my kids that we could take on anything together as long as we worked as a team.
So, Mom, stop asking me when Tristan is going to wear the Cocomelon undies you bought him. For now he likes to wear them on his head.