Even though I have two kids in diapers, I’m not in a rush to potty train my eldest, Emma, who is almost 2 years old. As I’ve prepared for and completed some of the early stages of potty training, I’ve realized that mothers are completely bombarded with all the books, advice, products, and programs on the market, telling us exactly what will and won’t work to get our babies to use the toilet. Still, when it comes to potty training, my daughter and I are taking it slow, and figuring it out as we go along.
A 3-DAY PLAN? The rage right now seems to be this three day potty training method wherein you basically don’t leave your child’s side for three days while she runs around naked or in big kid underwear so that she feels when she’s had an accident. Supposedly, this method is miraculous for many, leaving children potty trained in three(ish) days. Here’s why this is so not the right choice for our family…
Having accidents is shameful enough for most kids when it’s actually an accident. This method, throwing your kid to the wolves, so to speak, is asking for accidents to happen. That’s just mean for a child who has an innate sense of shame (which most do) and could cause some self-consciousness and self-doubt about their body later in life.
Also, Emma already feels when she’s wet. We cloth diaper so there’s no magical chemical or synthetic material that keeps her feeling dry when she’s not. She knows when she’s wet her diaper and she tells me so already.
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WHY RUSH IT? And finally, I honestly expect potty training to take weeks or even months. It’s a huge transition for a little person. She’s used to uninhibited elimination and now, all of a sudden, they’re expected to a.) hold their urine/feces till they’ve reached the potty, b.) properly let go of the muscles holding everything in at the right moment, and c.) get used to a whole new set of undergarments. That’s a lot to expect of a child, especially in a mere three days.
Instead, we purchased a toddler potty when Emma was about a year old. She gets to play with it, sit on it (sometimes fully clothed), and just get used to it being around. She also accompanies me to the potty multiple times a day (gotta love how when you become a mommy, you lose all of your privacy, right?) and sees how the potty works. She loves to get her own square of toilet paper and wipe herself (again, fully clothed, silly girl!) and then put her toilet paper in the potty. I even let her flush sometimes so she’s not scared of the loud noise later.
Bathroom duties have become very normal for her. She’s taking her time letting me know when she’s soiled her diaper but she always tells me when it’s “WHETT!” and wants it off right away. When she’s running around bottomless, I can prompt her to sit on the potty and she likes to run into the bathroom to sit, even if nothing comes out.
PATIENCE & NO GUILT Like most significant toddler milestones, patience is key from parents. I don’t want Emma to associate guilt or shame with her body nor do I want her to feel pressured to be a “big girl” before she’s really ready. She’s still nursing, after all, and she got a sibling at a very young age. It’s not really my place to force her into a cognitive and emotional space that she doesn’t feel ready for.
Potty training doesn’t have to be stressful for parent or child if it’s handled with patience and the toddler is respected. I’m handling potty training as an opportunity for Emma and me to learn something new together, take our time and do it right, side by side, with the utmost respect for each other and our bodies. I hope to have many more lessons like this with my beautiful baby girl over the course of our life together. What more could I ask for?