Why “Potty Training” is a Misnomer

I’m currently in the throes (kinda) of potty training my second child. I have found potty training to be a pseudo-hot topic among moms. Not at the level of breast-vs-bottle or co-sleeping, but most seem to have strong opinions about it.

To give you an idea of where I stand on the “How to Potty Train a Child” spectrum, here are my general beliefs:

My Thoughts on Potty Training

  1. Potty training is 100% child-led
  2. A child needs to care about being wet or dirty before potty training can be successful
  3. Parents who need to initiate the majority of toilet-sitting sessions in order for accidents to be avoided, cannot consider their child to be “fully trained”

Madelyn is nearly 3 years old. Kate was fully potty trained months before she reached this age, but – really – they are 2 different kids with 2 completely opposite personalities.

Leading into the potty training phase with Kate, we did all the *right* things. We got her a potty chair, talked to her about being a big girl and how that meant wearing underpants instead of diapers, and sat her on the toilet when she showed interest. When Maddie was a colicky, 7 week old newborn, and we had just moved from NH to TN, Kate walked over to me and asked me to change her diaper because she was wet.

That was the exact moment we began potty training.

And 3 days later, Kate was fully trained.

I don’t think I deserve any credit for potty training Kate. Because what did I really do other than following her lead and putting her in a pair of cloth undies so she’d feel wet?

I continue to have this same laissez faire attitude about Maddie, even though she’s “too old for diapers” by many people’s standards. Right now, Maddie has reached a point where she doesn’t want to poop in her diaper and has regularly taken care of that type of business in the toilet for weeks. But in terms of pee, she still doesn’t care to be walking around wearing a sopping wet diaper or pair of undies.

She’s not quite ready, so I’m not pushing the issue.

To me, the word “training” implies that I can actively work to help someone else achieve a skill. Which is why I think it would be better to say that we moms are “potty facilitating” or “potty helping” or something.

What has your experience been with potty training?

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82 Responses to Why “Potty Training” is a Misnomer
  1. twinisms
    July 18, 2011 | 12:41 am

    All of mine were over 3 before they were potty trained. I use the twin excuse a lot, but that’s not really it. I was lazy by most mom standards. I just waited until they were ready, rather than having to struggle too much with it. I figured they wouldn’t wear diapers to their high school graduation no matter how lazy I was about it;)

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:04 pm

      I say the same. It won’t last forever; it has to come to an end at some time.

  2. Audrey's mom
    July 18, 2011 | 12:43 am

    I tried so hard with Audrey and it was such a long, drawn-out chore. With Maurene I have helped her when she wanted to sit on the potty and put a clean diaper back on her after she ‘pottied all by herself.’ She is starting to show signs but I want to wait until I know she is truly ready. She turned 2 a few days ago and I have no problems putting her in a diaper still. She can remove her clothing and diaper and can make it to the potty seat all on her own. It is up to her. I guess I am on the far side of laissez-faire.

  3. Kimberly
    July 18, 2011 | 12:46 am

    With my oldest, I waited until he was ready and clearly showing the signs. Waiting to do it on his terms helped me to have him fully trained in a matter of 3 days.

    My 2 year old is still showing no signs of it AT ALL. And until he does? I’m leaving it alone. There’s no need to force it when THEY aren’t ready. It will only cause frustration on our part, in my opinion.

  4. Alison@Mama Wants This
    July 18, 2011 | 12:48 am

    I agree with the terminology.

    Although in our household, we actually ‘trained’. My toddler was introduced to the potty at a very early age, 9 months. (It’s very common in Malaysia, I know of kids who get put on the potty every morning at the same time, just to get them used to it) He would usually sit on it for a couple of minutes and would want to get off. After a few days, he actually pooped in it. And so began a daily ritual of visiting the potty. He did not always go, but he knew what it’s for.

    When he started babbling/ talking, he repeated the word we used for potty and would say it to us. When he did, on the potty he goes. Again, he doesn’t always do anything.

    At 15 months, he started telling us when he had to go and he did. However, he is not fully trained. He still pees in the diaper 50% of the time, and sometimes, does a #2 in the diaper. However, he is only 18.5 months so I’m not too concerned.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:05 pm

      I’ve heard of this approach quite often from other cultures.

  5. Ashley
    July 18, 2011 | 1:08 am

    Okay, so I’m with you and nodding along. Except. Lily will demand I change her diaper quickly. (she’s 2 1/2 at the moment) She will take naps/go overnight at times without wetting. BUT, she refuses to do it. She hates the potty, so I’m stuck. I’m kind of hoping the move is part of it, and as we settle in, she’ll get over it, but oye. Who trains who is the question?? (oh, and I thought I’d make it fun by adding a puppy. Potty training times 2. I see a post coming on! 🙂 )

    I think I’m with you on not pushing the issue.. this girl has a mind of her own, so what good will pushing do??

  6. Jessica
    July 18, 2011 | 1:08 am

    My kids have been opposites in potty training so far. Oldest took 1 to 2 days. Youngest has been in the process for months now. They are different kids with different potty agendas.

  7. The Drama Mama
    July 18, 2011 | 3:10 am

    My daughter trained like a dream. She was using the potty early, before she turned three. Scooby was something else. Man, it took forever, but now, while we still do pullups to bed at night, that is the only time he wears them, and? I’m okay with that. He’s getting there.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:06 pm

      As I read through these comments, it seems like this is a recurring theme with the younger kid. 🙂

  8. Mommy's Paradise
    July 18, 2011 | 3:24 am

    In one way I did ‘train’ my tot, but it all comes down to the child wanting to do it. I think preparing him, showing him where and how others are doing it and wait, that’s the way to go. At least for ‘Timan’ it worked. I started sitting him on the toilet with a cushioned smaller seat after I saw he was interested in these things. After some accidents he did fine the whole day in his undies but wanted a diaper for #2, for about 1/2 year. Until a doctor told him ‘no more diapers for you’ when he was a little more than 2 1/2 years old. And from this day on, he was fully toilet trained, day and night. Because he wanted to do it, or better, he believed what somebody else, an ‘authority figure’, told him. The only thing I do is reminding him to go pee pee before he goes to bed and limit his fluid intake to 1 glass max. during the last hour before bed time.

  9. Barbara
    July 18, 2011 | 4:09 am

    My son is showing signs, such as bringing me a diaper to change him when his is dirty. We’ve tried the potty though, and he hates it; so now we’re in training limbo! Sadly, my son has to be potty trained by the time he is 3 since they have to be diaper free when they start school. The pressure is on for us this year!

  10. Betsy
    July 18, 2011 | 5:58 am

    My kid was begging me to change him when he was dirty or wet. So we started training… and he decided to just hold it. All of it. For HOURS. The record was when he managed to hold his pee from 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening when he let go in the tub.

    Soooo… we are back in diapers. And he begs to be changed every time he’s wet or dirty. He also begs to sit on the potty, but does nothing and hops right off.

    Is this a sign of being ready? I am NOT SURE.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:07 pm

      Oh no, Betsy! You sound like you’re stuck in a no-win situation! I hope that Gunne decides something soon.

  11. Natalie
    July 18, 2011 | 6:54 am

    I think you are right and that every kid is different when it comes to potty training. I think some people out there just like to say, “Hey my kid was potty trained at 6 months” LOL but we all know that’s not true. It’s another one of those topics that people always ask like you said breast/bottle…co-sleeping. I hate that it always seems like a competition!

  12. JDaniel4's Mom
    July 18, 2011 | 6:54 am

    I am telling JDaniel he needs to go and have been for months. I hope he gets it soon. He is supposed to go to preschool in a month.

  13. Jessica
    July 18, 2011 | 6:55 am

    Totally agree, my kids have been completely different with potty training and the bottom line is, you can’t do any “potty helping” until they are ready.

  14. Jill M
    July 18, 2011 | 7:08 am

    I’ve been asked if my daughter is potty trained since she was 18 months old. I don’t understand why who aren’t responsible for changing her diaper even care. My favorite is the older ladies who swear they had their kids trained by 18 months or the moms/dads of infants who say “but aren’t they supposed to be trained before their 2”. Stay out of my kid’s diaper!

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:09 pm

      Oh, don’t even get me started on those ladies! First of all, diapers weren’t anything like what they are now! It’s almost like they are too good and our kids end up staying in them longer than they *supposedly* did way back when. 🙂

  15. Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up)
    July 18, 2011 | 7:08 am

    I found that threatening my child with no pool for the summer was an effective measure. Yup, just one little “your sister can go to the pool this summer but you can’t because you’re too old to wear water diapers there” did the trick.

    Was that child led? because she totally potty trained in a few days after that. hmmmm

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:10 pm

      I think you presented an ultimatum, but the kid decided to go on the potty in order to meet your demands. So I still say the kid gets the credit.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:10 pm

      Also, I have to say that we’re holding her Big Girl room over her head, but she doesn’t care.

  16. Angie
    July 18, 2011 | 7:16 am

    Potty training kind of terrifies me a little. We bought Jack a potty a few weeks ago and now he thinks it’s a toy. Yesterday I lifted the lid because he wanted to sit on it and I found 3 toy cars he had stored in there.
    Clearly we still have a long road ahead of us.

  17. A Mommy in the City
    July 18, 2011 | 7:22 am

    We are in the middle of it here too. Harlan is nearly two, but she started telling us she had to go at 15 months. It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since. She used to love going poop in the potty, now she despises it and doesn’t like to go in her diaper either. That leaves her going in a corner taking off her clothes and pooping on the floor {crazy, right?} She will tell me when she has to pee 75% of the time. I’m just going with it because I honestly have no clue what the hell I am doing.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:12 pm

      I think I can see Maddie being at 80% for a while. So maybe Harlan will be good most of the time, too, and then slowly make it the rest of the way.

  18. Jenny
    July 18, 2011 | 7:22 am

    Totally agree! That is what we did with Will. After months of pressure from other preschool moms coming in all giddy that their kid was potty trained, I would get discouraged. But being a first time mom, I had no clue which way was right or wrong. I decided after a couple attempts to let him tell me when he was ready. 3 months after he turned 3 he just did it and it was amazing! No acccidents and sleeps through the night without wetting the bed. I have heard that children who are potty trained before they are ready, continue to have accidents. So I am proud that we waited for when HE was ready, not ME.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:13 pm

      YES! The moms who do a lot of the – um – initiating and pushing of their kids? Seem to have kids that take SEVERAL months before they can be relied upon to stay dry without constant reminders/accidents.

  19. Stacey Nerdin @ Tree, Root, and Twig
    July 18, 2011 | 7:24 am

    Oh, Liz, I could hug you for writing this! Talk about being “too old for diapers” – my son will be FOUR in less than two months, and he could not care less about the toilet. He is not at all bothered by being wet/poopy in a diaper. He’ll sit on the toilet but has never once had *any* sort of activity there. I’ve stopped struggling with it. Especially since I’ve talked with his preschool teachers, and they are more than happy to take him in diapers and even help with the training process. (this is rare, I know, so I am VERY grateful!)

    The thing with him is I’m almost positive he’ll be the type of kid who says one day, “Hey, no more diaper for me!” and then be completely trained. That’s exactly what he did with a milk bottle, which he drank until he was nearly 3 (again, a somewhat mortifying “mother fail” as far as I was concerned). He just up and decided one day, no more bottle, and that was the end of it. All my angst and guilty struggle for just one decision on his part.

    Back to the preschool teachers for a minute – the other thing I realize about my son is that it just *might* take someone else being involved for him to be successful. He and I have a battle of wills over everything, so take me out of the equation, and it may do the trick!

    Who knows. I just appreciate you giving us this space to commiserate about this really frustrating parenting experience! 🙂

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:15 pm

      Oh, Stacey! I’m sorry you’ve been so frustrated! I completely anticipate that Maddie will just decide one day that she’s done with diapers and that will be it. I even think it might take someone *else* catching her off guard, saying, “You’re still wearing diapers?!?” to push her over the edge.

      And to reinforce your point about his teachers…Maddie was perfect at summer camp for her teachers, but then would come home and pee her pants and just sit there, not caring.

  20. Kimberly
    July 18, 2011 | 7:28 am

    I really cracked the whip on this one. I won’t lie. I was tired of changing poop. We threw him in undies, coaxed him with chocolate and wha la. It took a good month to get things going.

  21. Veronica
    July 18, 2011 | 7:38 am

    I like the way you roll. All three times have been different. Now my son is working on it, but he doesn’t really care fully. He asks to be changed some days and others I have to catch him to change him. He’s just now starting to like pooping on the potty. He’s three and starts preschool in fall. I hope he gets it down soon! Good luck!

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:17 pm

      Thanks! Good luck to you, too!

      Maddie can be perfect for a few days, and then a disaster. And when I ask her why she’s peeing her pants again, she smiles and laughs. So I totally get the back & forth you are experiencing with your son.

  22. Kmama
    July 18, 2011 | 8:06 am

    My boys were both really stubborn when it came to potty training. Buddy could do it all, and alternated back and forth between what he would do on the potty. It ultimately came down to all his friends moving up to the “must be potty trained” class in daycare before he would do it, but he day trained and night trained at the same time. He was 3 1/2.

    Buster was ready sooner, though still difficult. Daycare adds a frustrating layer because they push pull-ups…but pull ups only made Buster feel like it was okay to pee in them. Once I finally demanded that they use underwear (training pants), he trained quickly. He was just over 3 when he trained…both day and night again.

  23. Stephanie
    July 18, 2011 | 8:15 am

    No matter what it is called, potty training is the bane of my existence! I do not want to go into a rant in your comments, believe me, it would be ugly. To give you an inkling of how I feel about this topic, just reading the article puts me in tears. I do think you have a good point however, and it is sort of the approach we have started taking with our three year old after 8 months of traditional style potty training and having NOTHING happen.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:21 pm

      Oh no! Don’t cry, Stephanie! It won’t last forever!

  24. KLZ
    July 18, 2011 | 8:18 am

    Maddie cracks me up. I can’t wait until she picks a boyfriend everyone hates and dates him just to spite people.

    I mean, theoretically. I’ll hate it when it happens but theoretically the idea makes me chuckle.

    • liz
      July 18, 2011 | 11:10 am

      You are right. Oh so PAINFULLY correct with your assertion.

  25. Polish Mama on the Prairie
    July 18, 2011 | 8:39 am

    My oldest was self trained at 15 months old.

    However, my second is 1 1/2 and while she tells me the exact moment she has wet her diaper, and sometimes takes off her diaper and immediately states that she is pooping (while doing so on my floor, yey, umm, sort of?), I tried potty training a couple of days ago and after a few hours decided she wasn’t quite ready. I plan to try again in a couple weeks since she is showing all the signs of readiness.

    All that being said, I thoroughly believe that a child should be more able and willing to poop on the toilet rather than pee. Because pee can only be held for so long in a power struggle before the child will have an accident. But poop can be held for days and cause severe constipation and a vicious cycle of associating pooping on the toilet with pain (due to constipation) and therefor more constipation. And this can go on for years. Whereas, peeing on the toilet, almost all kids get before kindergarten.

    So, don’t stress too much, Mama! She is pooping on the toilet. Yey! She will eventually pee on the toilet as well.

  26. Lula Lola
    July 18, 2011 | 8:44 am

    I think the term toilet learning, though lame sounding, is more accurate. Let them go when they get ready.
    Pushing can backfire, and feeling like a failure could turn them against the whole thing. It should most certainly be child led!

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:24 pm

      Exactly! making the potty a battleground is the last thing you want to do!

  27. Evonne
    July 18, 2011 | 8:48 am

    We introduced everything with our daughter around 18 months. When she was 2.5, she really showed interest and was “trained” quick. I can count the accidents she had on one hand.

    Our son? Completely different. He was almost 4 by the time he was trained. With him I learned (the hard way) you need to let the child take the lead. If you force them, you will only be left with a mess. Literally!

  28. Ali
    July 18, 2011 | 8:52 am

    Agreeeeeedddd! My two big ones were potty trained just around their 3rd birthday. NO amount of coaxing did the trick. They have to be ready. Luckily for me, #3 potty trained at 2 1/2. It was like a little gift from God for all my hard work. Done with diapers 6 months before I expected it 🙂

  29. amber
    July 18, 2011 | 9:21 am

    My daughter’s a few months over 2, and still shows no interest. So I’m not pushing her. But my mom harps on me during every phone call. It’s really annoying.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:26 pm

      Moms can make things like this be an even bigger hassle, can’t they?

  30. Carri
    July 18, 2011 | 9:23 am

    Great post, Liz. We’re just getting to that point where Blake is showing signs. Now, when I ask him if he’s ready to use the potty, he says, “Yeah…???” instead of screaming, “NOOOOOOOO!” So, that’s a start, right? Tell me it’s a start. Please! LOL

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:27 pm

      Yes, him saying YEAH is WAY better than him screaming NOOOO.

  31. Hutch
    July 18, 2011 | 9:36 am

    I have zero experience with potty training and I’m ok with that. I like your approach though, I hear so many friend-parents air their frustrations with training and worry about whether their kid is past the normal age, etc.

  32. Leigh Ann
    July 18, 2011 | 9:55 am

    As you know, we’re in the thick of potty training too…times 2. I could leave a novel of a comment here, but I’m crafting my own post about it.

    With my girls, being a little over 3, I realized that they really needed to get out of diapers, and they had been alerting me that they were ready for a while. *I* wasn’t ready. The first day was exciting, the second day was a little taxing, the 3rd day was pure HELL, until I was able to regroup during a long naptime and reassess my strategy. After that, we had 1 success that afternoon, and ever since, they’ve been going practically on their own. I don’t even have to lead them. Now we just need to work on wearing pants. 🙂

  33. Amanda
    July 18, 2011 | 10:08 am

    I don’t have a horse in this race, but always wonder how it will pan out for us when that time comes. Right now, Luke honestly doesnt’ give a crap (no pun intended) if he’s wet or dirty. He’s never been the type of baby who fusses when he’s wet or even when we’re changing his diaper. And I was terrified of being peed on (apparently that’s a *thing* with boys) and it’s only happened once in 7 months. I just wonder if he’ll be as laid back when it’s time to train.

  34. Kate
    July 18, 2011 | 10:10 am

    I agree with you 100%!

  35. Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation
    July 18, 2011 | 10:13 am

    Totally agree with you…kids have to be ready and want to.

    We did a cold turkey long weekend with Sadie when she was 2 1/2 yrs. old…she had shown us signs of being ready.

    3 days later she was fully potty trained.

  36. BalancingMama (Julie)
    July 18, 2011 | 10:14 am

    I agree completely. We tried a few times to “train” Amelia around age 2 1/2 and it just wouldn’t sink in. But a couple weeks before her third birthday, she just did it herself. It took reminding to avoid accidents, but she really made the decision when it was time. Now, we did have an issue with poop. She would hide and poop in her pants. One day, after she was pee trained for weeks, I grabbed her and forced her on the potty when I knew she was trying to poop. We had a big fight, we both cried, but she eventually gave in and dropped them in the potty! She never went back to hiding behind the curtains again. Just needed to know it was OK to poop on the potty, I guess.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:29 pm

      Sometimes you just need to break through that barrier and it’s all good!

  37. tracy
    July 18, 2011 | 10:29 am

    OMG what, your nearly three year old isn’t trained??!?!? LOL

    My first 2 were a breeze..I think my 3rd will be the death of me…but I pinkie swear it will be before kindy! xoxo

  38. Jessica
    July 18, 2011 | 11:14 am

    This is a great and very timely (at least for me) post. My daughter is 17 months old, and I have been receiving pressure from all ends to start now before baby #2 arrives in October. And while my daughter has gotten into the habit of taking off her diaper to see what’s in there and seems more aware when she pees and poops, I am not sure that she’s ready just yet. I like the idea of allowing the child to lead the process, however, and think it makes the most sense.

  39. Jen
    July 18, 2011 | 12:26 pm

    I believe there is a “window” for potty training. I’ve had several friends wait too long and ended up having 4 year olds still wearing diapers. When we realized that Allison had the ability to “hold it” at 26 months, we dove right in. And while we still have occasional accidents (and she hates doing the deuce on the potty), we are glad that we went for it. Because she is the kind of kid that could care less about being wet and I’m not washing diapers for another year.

  40. Tayarra
    July 18, 2011 | 12:35 pm

    I totally agree! My 1st was just at 3 when he finally decided he was ready. I have a rule not to fight over this and get all bent out of shape. That and dinner time. There is so much other crap to worry about. Once he decided he was ready he never looked back. He’s had only about 5 accidents including bedtime in the last 2 years. I’m pretty proud of him. Right now we are “training” my 2 year old. We have nudged the issue a little more only because we need some diaper money relief!!! My extent of training is taking his pants off when he gets home. We does great running to the bathroom or peeing off the deck if he doesn’t have anything on. That should explain my nekkid toddler butt posts! Good for you for not forcing the issue!

  41. Rach (DonutsMama)
    July 18, 2011 | 12:37 pm

    I don’t have any experience yet, but I enjoy these posts from more experienced, real mom (rather than stupid books) to prepare myself for when those days are upon us.

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:33 pm

      I know I didn’t explicitly state it in the post, so I will mention that I’m a huge believer in cloth training pants, regular underpants or even bare butt. It’s VERY hard to train with Pull-Ups since they act so much like diapers.

  42. Kir
    July 18, 2011 | 12:46 pm

    I agree. We had put up with a lot of Moms, SDs, other older people telling us “how to” with the PTing, even to some extent yelling at us for them not being PTrained and then one day they were…sort of.

    we did all the right things too, bought little potties, promised things, praised and congratulated small victories. At 3 1/2 they still have accidents, BUT all in all , we’re getting there. HALLEJUIAH. Jacob does NOT want to POOP on the potty and still needs a pull up for that…but for all the accidents, there are now plenty of GOOD DAYS, YEA DAYS..and they did it on their own (daycare helped of course) which is how I think it should be. Right??

  43. C @ Kid Things
    July 18, 2011 | 1:18 pm

    My 1st practically trained himself. To make up for that stroke of good fortune, my now 5yo has been a nightmare. In fact, we still have issues. Pee is great, somehow he became afraid to poo on the toilet. Now my daughter, who will be 3 in 6 days, has just started using the potty. My fingers are crossed that she’ll be more like y 1st, please god please.

  44. Grumpy Grateful Mom
    July 18, 2011 | 1:24 pm

    Yes, I totally agree! Each kid is so different. My girls were ready earlier than my boy. Though I need to be a better helper with his potty helping. My dude just had an accident in his bedroom because I forgot to remind him to go! Thank goodness we own a steam-vac!

  45. Cam - Bibs & Baubles
    July 18, 2011 | 1:33 pm

    i haven’t gotten there yet. my baby is nearly two and you’ve given me some good things to think about. i am trying to follow his lead right now and take it from there.

  46. Shell
    July 18, 2011 | 1:50 pm

    What is the phrase I’ve heard? “Toilet Learning” or something like that. I believe it’s child-led, too. but I still call it potty training. 😉

  47. SaucyB
    July 18, 2011 | 2:50 pm

    In full honesty, since my guy was in daycare 5 days a week, the staff there did a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to this. Having the kids visit the potty was just a part of their routine. However, I did take a certain cue from my son when it came to time to really making the switch from pull ups to undies. Right after he turned 3 when he began hiding to poop I took that to mean he was ready. I guess we were both right. I put him in underpants one weekend, spent an awful lot of time in the bathroom over those two days and scout’s honor when he went to school on monday he was trained.

  48. Amy
    July 18, 2011 | 2:54 pm

    I had the ultimate experiment — potty training twins!! Everyone said “don’t try to make them do it at the same time. your son will not be ready.” Too bad. I was ready!! So I started. And we spent three days at home. My son was done after day two. At only 2 and half. He was even making it through the night within a month. My daughter, however, gave me a run for my money. She was somewhat ok after the 3 days at home, but if I didn’t continually take her to the potty it didn’t work. Parent led. Not potty trained. About two weeks later, though we turned the corner on that, though she couldn’t stay dry through the night until she was 3 1/2.

    Two totally different children. And no, girls are not always easier than boys.

  49. Kristin @ What She Said
    July 18, 2011 | 3:13 pm

    Well, this makes me feel a little less terrified of potty training.

    I tend to agree with you in that I believe potty training should be child-led. At 19 months, my daughter currently couldn’t care less when she has pee or poop in her diaper and has shown very few signs of readiness, so I’m not pushing potty training. We have a potty seat and she knows where it is – in the bathroom beside the “big” potty – but she thinks of it more as a toy right now than anything else. And that’s OK – she’s only 19 months old. We have plenty of time.

    Your story about Kate gives me hope that potty training won’t be the nightmare I’ve built it up to be in my mind.

  50. MamaRobinJ
    July 18, 2011 | 5:13 pm

    I totally agree – it has to be child led. But I do think there’s an aspect of “training” in that you can encourage, talk about why and when and how, and be on the lookout for signs so that you can catch those teachable moments.

    Our experience was pretty good. We started in January when C was 2 1/2 and seemed ready. My husband was determined to do the 3-day thing, which I think got us on the right track but it wasn’t magic. It took a while to get to the point where he was fully potty trained, and it involved asking him if he needed to pee, making him go before we left the house and all that. It was a relatively slow process but quite painless (unless you count peeing on the carpet – agh, flashbacks!). I think that’s because we didn’t push it.

  51. Anne
    July 18, 2011 | 5:23 pm

    Potty facilitating is more like it for sure. We had a similar experience with our youngest. She just wouldn’t have any of it and I didn’t push it much. A friend used to tell me, “don’t worry, she’ll be potty-trained by the time she goes to college.” I try to remind myself of that with a lot of parenting issues! I’ve missed your blog over the last few weeks. Looking forward to getting back to my regular reading!

  52. julie gardner
    July 18, 2011 | 6:09 pm

    No joke, my kids pretty much potty-trained themselves. They both just decided one day and stopped wearing diapers. And that was that.

    It was the only easy thing about raising my son so far, so I’ll take it (even though I can’t take credit).

    Therefore, I agree with you about the process being more successful when it’s child-led. But I wonder what you do if your child is starting preschool and doesn’t yet have the inclination?

    I’m glad that wasn’t my issue.

    I’ve already been driven to margaritas by too many other challenges in motherhood.

    (I may or may not have some extra if you’re interested…)

    • Liz
      July 18, 2011 | 8:37 pm

      I’d ALWAYS have margaritas with you, Julie!

  53. Missy
    July 18, 2011 | 9:52 pm

    It was like that with H – he led the charge and it took a weekend. Done.

    My guess is, things will take longer with my little guy – he has his own ways of approaching life!

  54. Practical Parenting
    July 18, 2011 | 11:46 pm

    Riley trained at 23 months, Liam at 2 1/2. They both “trained” themselves. There’s so much potty pressure in mom world…the truth is if the kid isn’t on board, it isn’t going to happen! And potty stress doesn’t do anyone any good.

  55. Micheline
    July 19, 2011 | 9:49 am

    My 2.5 year old is starting preschool in September and has to be “marginally potty trained.” I don’t think he’s quite ready and I completely agree that it should be child-led. We’re trying to be relaxed about it and occasionally ask him if he wants to try sitting on his potty, but he’s not into it. We’re hoping that he suddenly shows more interest in the next few weeks, but I guess we’ll have to just try and hope for the best. Yikes.

  56. julia
    July 19, 2011 | 9:54 am

    i was one of those that originally believed that kids should at least be “potty sitting” by the age of 2. you know, cuz diapers on older kids is just “wrong” (sarcasm). with hannah, like Kate, she was “trained” in just 3 days. although we did it cold turkey. we put her in underwear and when she peed her pants, we sat down. easy peasy. she was 2 years and 2 months old at the time.

    with noah, i decided not to rush, moreso b/c time seemed to just slip by. we decided after our big disney trip in may to do the deed. we went cold turkey again and it worked. kids learn quickly that when they pee in their underwear, it makes a mess/is uncomfortable, etc. for US, this system worked. but like you said, every kid is different. if we would’ve kept noah in diapers and just tried to sit him down every hour, i don’t think he would’ve caught on…i think he would get the picture that he could just pee in his diaper with no consequences. now, he tells us when he has to go.

    it’s a tough stage and long road.

  57. NotJustAnotherJennifer
    July 19, 2011 | 11:08 am

    Potty facilitating! I like it! Yes, I get that diapers are expensive. I get that it’s inconvenient. I get the preschools don’t want to deal with it so your kid has to be potty trained to start. I get that other countries have kids who are trained when they are a week old. But I totally believe that you can’t MAKE your kids eat, sleep or poop. And trying to is just asking for trouble. Good for you for letting her take the lead.

  58. ModernMom
    July 19, 2011 | 12:13 pm

    Honestly, I think I got a little bit lucky with both my girls. We waited until we saw the signs that they were interested and went for it. Same as you, about three days of Potty Teaching and all was good:)

  59. Glamamom
    July 19, 2011 | 4:59 pm

    I’m so with you. I think this is one of those pissing matches (pun intended) that moms get into. My son will be 2 in 1.5 months and is no where near using the toilet. I know tons if kids the same age that are being “trained” at the very same age. I think it totally depends on the kid and agree parents should take there cue (although that in itself can be confusing…my son loves to sit on the potty on sometimes asked to be changed but doesn’t actually want to go in the toilet). Anyway, from a psychology standpoint, I have read a ton that as you pointed out, it is better to let kids take the lead. Pressuring them can often delay the natural progression. Interesting post Liz.

  60. Sarah at The Stroller Ballet
    July 19, 2011 | 7:09 pm

    This is a great post! We’ve been struggling with potty training. Peanut was interested, then she regressed. So I backed off. I didn’t want to create a negative association with the potty. Recently, she’s started to seem more interested in it. I hope this is the beginning of something. We’ll see!

  61. angela
    July 19, 2011 | 8:12 pm

    Abbey asked for underwear for her second birthday, so that’s what she got. We started a few weeks later, and she was (basically) trained within the week. (Not nighttime, but daytime.)

    I am SCARED of PTing Dylan.

  62. Stefanie
    July 23, 2011 | 7:40 pm

    I have the same potty training philosophy as you! I let my kids lead the way, and they trained quickly once they were ready.

  63. CK
    July 28, 2011 | 5:36 pm

    I agree with your 3 points whole heartedly. I wish I was convinced of them, however, before I tried training my boy at 12 mo. (stupid, stupid, stupid!!!)

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