Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

Potty Training Thoughts

on February 24, 2012

The overwhelmingly pervasive advice these days is that you should wait for your kids to “be ready” to potty-train. Among other signs, the “experts” say to wait until the baby can hold her urine a while (you find dry diapers sometimes) and talk all about potty concerns—use the words of potty training—and they cite that “most” kids will train around age 3. Three! Okay, as a mom of kids who are almost 2 I can now actually imagine that…but do I want to wait that long? No way.

Let’s give the kids a little credit, shall we? Most kids of my generation seem to have been trained much closer to age 2. There were jokes about causing “anal retentive personalities” (a Freud theory about the results of negative toilet-training tactics) but in reality, it seems these parents mostly did a great job and didn’t have any more problems than modern folks. In previous centuries, most kids were trained around age 1 and some even earlier, although the trend in some periods was definitely coercive, and that’s not okay.

I may be wrong, but the new advice sort of reeks of diaper industry influence. And I don’t just mean that parents have the luxury of waiting now because of modern disposables (which they do and that’s not bad) but that the diaper makers don’t want us to stop diapering. They make diapers in larger sizes than ever before. Pampers Cruisers come in a size 7, for children 41 lbs. and over. Doesn’t that seem…shocking?

Honestly, America is confusing. There is still a lot of pressure on women who breastfeed to keep it out of sight, and if you breastfeed your baby past age 1 the judgments and criticism start to get very intense (sigh), but diapering up to age 4 is becoming acceptable! A child of 4 can do so many things. There is absolutely no reason he can’t take himself to the bathroom, and really, you owe it to your kid to let him try.

I know…here’s my own judgmental self coming out. But listen, here is what I really think. A child deserves to learn this skill and hygienic responsibility. They can learn it, given a lot of positive parental attention, and that is where the problem often lies, I think—parents don’t want to take the time to do many of the tasks of parenting.

Think about it. We teach our child to feed himself as soon as possible, and even dress himself pretty much as soon as he can give it a go, so why not the same with potty training? Just try it now and then, using positive techniques and a relaxed, fun attitude, and see when the kid picks it up.

I have to admit, there may not be much real harm in waiting until the kid asks you to train him (really…this has been advised!) but why not give them a vote of confidence by showing you believe that they can do this, as they do so many other things? Wouldn’t it create an atmosphere of faith in the child’s abilities? Of confidence in them as individuals? And wouldn’t that translate into good self-esteem for the child?

Now, if it were to fail, of course I wouldn’t advocate pushing. I guess I just I think giving the child the opportunity to help himself in this way is really important. Not to mention, a two-year-old is a lot less stubborn than a three-year-old, I’m told. 😉

Girls loved to sit on the potties at 16 months. Just for fun.

If you’re wondering where we are on potty training, it’s a short story. When I was pregnant, I planned to try Elimination Communication, but then found out I was having two and so we diapered. I introduced potties to the girls and showed them how to sit on them when they were about 10 months old I think. They thought it was fun. Over the next few months, I had a few “naked” mornings where I let them run around and when they’d start to pee, I’d put them on a potty and excitedly tell them they were going “pssst psst!” Well, they love to make the noise, and they associate it with the potty chair for sure, but they were confused when I’d sweep them up and put them on the potty, and their “psst psst” was already completed anyway. Audrey was annoyed that I’d interrupted her playing, even. But Rachel was more intrigued, albeit a bit lost as to what I was doing.

Now they are 21 months and I’ve only still done a few mornings like this, but I’m about to step it up with Rachel. I admit, my hesitation to present more opportunities in the past year has been that I have always wanted to train them both at the same time, but I’m going to do away with that notion for now, if only to save my own sanity. Rachel hates having her diaper changed. Also, she loves to see me pee, and says “psst psst” when I do. Good opportunity to re-introduce, I think. She’s not a huge talker yet, only knows a few words, but I disagree with this “requirement” wholeheartedly. She deserves the chance to try.

If this round of gentle teachings fails, then I will accept that and try again in a few weeks. Lather, rinse, repeat. And then Audrey. Unless she shows interest first, due to not wanting to be left out (a distinct possibility). But I’m committed to making myself available to her for these lessons.

I don’t know yet whether I should try pull-ups, regular old-fashioned training pants, underwear, or none of the above. I’d love to hear stories and suggestions. Got any thoughts about all this?


8 responses to “Potty Training Thoughts

  1. Chinookie says:

    Well, of course I have no idea – but your thoughts on the matter seem sane to me. I remember going to the toilet by myself when I was two. I know I wasn’t three, because we moved to a different house when I was three. I have absolutely no memory of anyone training me to use the toilet, but somebody must have. Maybe it was so traumatizing that I’ve blocked it from memory. 😉

  2. sheenasnyder says:

    I just potty trained my 2 year old. She was very ready for it – dry diapers, going potty irregularly, asking to go on her own. With my older daughter she didn’t want to and at 2.5 I took the last of a bag of diapers and put them on the kitchen table. They sat there for a week. We counted them down and when they were gone, we used panties. She wore panties in the house – pull-ups out and to bed for a little while and then when she was always dry in the morning we went to just panties. It is a big change, but they adapt. Good Luck.

    • Janet S says:

      So going to the potty *irregularly* is a sign? I’d like to hear more about that. I like that you took the initiative with your 2.5 year old. It sounds like you really believed in her, and it worked. She had to have been proud. I think the less time they have to sit in their own waste, the better. Thanks for the tips.

      • sheenasnyder says:

        I take using the potty at all (even irregularly) as a sign. My oldest, at first try it was a fight, and we backed off. She was not ready. Six months later, with dry diapers every morning she just didn’t want to. With her counting down to things worked well. She had lots of time to process what was going to happen and knew when it was coming. Diapers on the kitchen table were our centerpiece, for conversation for a week. When they were gone she knew she had to use the potty. There was no screaming. My second was just ready and I was the problem. I am glad I helped. Let me know how it goes.

  3. Love this! I have been ECing my son since 14 months, and now my daughter who is 2 months. My son is 21 months now and doing independent wees in the potty, number 2s are still a challenge.

    I’d like to hear updates on how you go with this! It also makes me kinda sad to see 4 year olds at the playground still in nappies, who are capable at this point of doing it on their own.
    My son doesn’t talk yet but we still managed to get as far as we have without him talking.

    I have a word of advice though, just so you don’t go through the annoyance I did. If you do heaps of nappy free time, don’t let the floor become an acceptable place to go. It is okay to set boundaries – and this doesn’t mean punishment. If possible always run the kids to the potty as they are going – that way the floor is never okay.

    With my son I was too gentle, and sometimes he had an accident on the floor without me intervening and telling him the potty was the only place to go. This eventually meant that the floor was okay with him, so I had to go a bit intense about it and chase him about with the potty for a few days before he got the idea it was the only place he was allowed to go.

    Good luck!

    • Janet S says:

      Thank you for that tip. It’s a great point, and it matches with how we do other things too, so I’ll be consistent and firm. It takes so much vigilance! I’ve already missed Rachel going twice because she was sitting on the floor and I didn’t see. (She’s definitely not aware of the urge yet, but I think I can help her.) I am impressed with your success and will def check in with you later!

  4. Hey, so nice to see more ec techniques. I’d go thin trainers and underwear. Pull-ups are just fancy diapers and they keep them too dry.

    I was watching a cartoon the other day and it was a potty episode. It encouraged the main character (age 3 or 4) to ask a grown up foer permission to use the bathroom by themselves. So weird!

    • Janet S says:

      Oh god. Thats just bad (the cartoon.) Great idea on the trainers, thanks. Gonna check out your EC blog! yay!

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