Positive Parenting Series · Toddler Health/Wellness · Toddler Issues

Positive Parenting Series: Wait-it-out potty training

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If you have toddlers, you’ve probably been approached by family, strangers, and friends about potty training. It seems to me that most people (even those without children) have something to say about it. I know I’ve heard every stereotype, tip and trick in the book.

“Oh, they’re two? When are you potty training?” (Um, I already know how to use the potty, thankyouverymuch. Ask my kids when they plan on starting!)

“Just tell them they have to go use it and if they pee on the floor, firmly tell them we don’t do that, we go in the potty” (That gem came from my twins’ pediatrician!)

Of course, there’s the tips and tricks as well. Girls potty train before boys, they say. Get them cute underwear, they say. Bribe them with stickers and chocolate. Get a floor potty. Get a seat for the big potty. Make them walk around the house without pants on so they can experience the discomfort of shame accidents.

Well, as a first time parent, I didn’t know where to start. Long ago, way before they were two, we got the seat that goes on the big potty (we still have it, and it’s a good one). We sat them on that seat every night before bath, back when they could barely talk. We’d sing them one song each to keep them there, and they’d beg to get down.

Around the time they turned two, we went to the store and bought simple but cute underwear. We let them pick out which they wanted. They happily chose and held their purchase all the way back to the car. For a few days, they even tried on a pair or two, for a minute.

We read them books about going to the potty. We watched the potty “Daniel Tiger” episode multiple times.

Were my children finally ready?

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Positive Parenting Series: Wait-it-out potty training

One day, a few months before I started positive parenting, I felt some pressure – mostly internal as always, but with a few people I knew saying, “just do it!” – and I said to the twins casually after breakfast:

“Today, instead of wearing our cloth diapers, we’re going to pick out your favorite underwear and wear them instead!” Thinking that they’d choose their favorites, have an accident, we’d talk about using the potty instead of feeling uncomfortable and wet, they’d get a new pair, and repeat until trained.

Ha! Double screaming. “NOOOO!!! I don’t want to wear underwear! I want my diaper! I want my diaper!!!!” Ugh…well, that day we didn’t potty train.

Since then, I’ve had a total change of heart, thanks to positive parenting. First of all, “they’ll go when they’re ready” is a common mantra I’ve heard among the stupid ideas, and I fully believe it to be true.

Was there a window of opportunity I missed? It’s possible, but there was never a time they showed any interest in the potty that I didn’t pick up on. And in fact, there’s plenty of interest now. Plenty. C and B love our new toilet with the “flush buttons” (yes, we got a new toilet because B’s giant poops literally broke the old one, and yes, we got it on Amazon, and no, it hasn’t clogged yet. It’s a miracle toilet!) When they each poop, they get to press the poop flush button (because we dump it from the cloth diapers). C loves to put her dollhouse family on the little doll toilet. They both love to follow me into the bathroom. They both only pee 2-3 times a day, holding it typically until they go to sleep. They both still sit on it (well, the little one we got out of desperation) every day, twice a day – not out of choice, but because it’s part of their daily routine with our nanny. They both know that big kids use the potty, and that they may even get a chocolate when they go pee on it.

Doesn’t that sound like a million reasons that show they’re ready?? Yeah, I thought so too. Only one problem….

They won’t actually use it. They won’t sit on their own. B lets me know when he’s about to go poop, and then asks me to change him as he picks out his next diaper and grabs the wipes (thank goodness the cloth diapers we use still fit after 2 years of use!). Does he want to sit on the potty and go to the bathroom? No, no he does not. And C, lover of all sugary treats, responded as such when I offered chocolate to her if she peed in the potty – “I’ll go potty when I’m a little bit bigger. Not now.” She even told Daddy that when the new baby comes and needs those cloth diapers, that’s when she’ll start going on the potty.

In my mind, I have two choices. I can:

  1. Force it on them, because their bodies are ready, they’re interested in the topic and just because – they’re old enough to fit the social norm (a few months shy of 3). Forcing it on them would involve forcing either nakedness or underwear and many days, weeks, months of meltdowns.
  2. Wait. I can simply wait.

I’m sure you can guess that I chose option #2. I’m waiting, positive parenting style. There will be no guilt tripping. There will be no excessive bribery (I did already tell C she can have chocolate when she uses the potty and I can’t back out of that one now). Do I still mention it? Every day.

I say: “Pretty soon you’ll be going to the bathroom in the potty, when you’re ready.” They both nod their heads in agreement, yep, that’s what they’re planning on. But not today, and probably not tomorrow. Whenever that day comes. I’m willing to wait it out, stress-free.

One thought on “Positive Parenting Series: Wait-it-out potty training

  1. I love this! I got asked/told only days apart by both my mom and MIL that my twins should be potty training soon. Why the rush?? My two have zero interest in the potty, wearing underwear, or even telling me when they’re about to poop. My girl will tell me she’s stinky and lay down for me to change her, kinda like B does with you, but that’s it. For now, I tell people I’m waiting until summer. Oh, and the not so subtle prodding by my MIL about them having to be toilet trained for three year old preschool? Yeah, I know. I already asked and because of their late birthday, they’d be in the two year old room where they can still wear diapers. Score one for me and waiting!
    I didn’t mean to rant but it’s obviously a touchy subject for me. Sorry.