I’m sure there are people who will feel adamantly different, but I am convinced that children potty train whenever they darn well feel like it. I don’t know much about elimination communication, so I don’t consider that when I write this. I have a friend who did it that way and that kid has been trained to potty for a long time. But for those of us not going that route, this is for us.
My daughter is smart. I don’t say that because I’m her mom. I say that because she is always one step ahead of me and I see her wheels working to get what she wants. I started cloth diapers when she was a little over two years and we had a four month old. I didn’t get a ton of diapers because I thought she would be out of diapers soon anyway. Boy was I wrong.
At first, I was casual about it. We got her a little potty and showed her how to use it. She liked the potty, and if I recall correctly, she even used it a couple of times, so I thought this was going to be easy. But after the novelty wore off, she didn’t seem to see the importance of the potty when she had the convenience of a diaper.
I started to take a little more initiative. I bribed her with the promises of M&Ms if she went. She liked the idea and it worked a couple of times, but again, she decided the treat wasn’t worth the effort. I upped it again, making a nice chart with stickers to record how many times she went and another chart with pictures of what to do that also would get stickers. It was fun – for the first two stickers.
I quickly realized she knew exactly what I was wanting but was too lazy to care. Once, when she was in the mood for a treat, she walked in demanding a M&M. When I told her she could have one if she went potty, she left the room without saying anything, then returned with a potty bowl of pee and took me back to the bathroom where she dumped and flushed it herself. She demanded the treat again. I decided it was time to take more drastic measures.
I purchased a couple Flip Potty training diapers. They were super cute and I thought she would get this potty thing in no time. Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to realize (or didn’t care) that they were not actual diapers and all my attempts of training with those did not work. I don’t even know whether she could pull them up or down easily, because she never was willing to try.
Finally, I bought her a packet of big girl princess underwear and did it cold turkey. And spent the next few weeks not leaving the house and cleaning urine out of my couches and carpet before putting her back in the diapers.
I talked to friends. I compared notes. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. She just wasn’t doing it, even though she knew how! And then she turned three. My friend encouraged me to try cold turkey again since she did that with her three year old and it worked for them. So I did. I made sure all my cleaning supplies were in stock and prepared for more long days inside the house trying to get her to the bathroom before she soiled anything. And wouldn’t you know it, something clicked and all of a sudden she was potty trained. It was like she just woke up and decided she was tired of playing around with mommy’s emotions and pretended like she had been doing this all along. No bribes, fancy diapers, calling grandparents, charts, or running around the house singing praises were necessary. Just whenever she felt like it.
Maybe my next child will change my mind, but as of right now, I believe children potty train when they are ready.