Potty learning. You either love it, or hate it. I think you hate it more than you love it, right? Power struggles, rewards that backfire, charts with stickers, hours spent on the potty reading books and playing with toys and still nothing, etc. Does it really have to be that difficult? Guess what? It DOESN’T. Relax, take it easy, don’t pressure yourself or your kid, forget stickers and candy (especially candy), make it as natural as it actually IS and SHOULD BE.
I have two kids, I was scared with my first, we had a million accidents all over the place when she wasn’t ready yet, she had “number-2-phobia” for a long time, but we made it, eventually. We didn’t use rewards, I let her decide if she was ready or not, especially with our phobia, we didn’t stress (too much) when things weren’t working out, but she was happily using the potty during the day by the time she was 2,5 y/o, and also at night by the time she was 3. Now, with my second we didn’t even try hard. It is summer now, it is hot, he is naked most of the time, he was watching his sister use the potty, he started asking to go himself. Just like that. I think it took him about 2-3 weeks to master the skill, and we use diapers only at night with him now. He is 25 months old now. So, again, no pressure, no rewards or punishments, no mental games. It IS possible. And there shouldn’t be any specific age when you start feeling pressured to “train” your child. Just watch for clues, and be supportive and patient. Good luck.
Here is something that I think makes sense to me, and something you all might find interesting.
“It can be helpful to think of potty training as a process in which both you and your child have your own “jobs” to do.
It is the parent’s responsibility to create a supportive learning environment. This means that you:
– Recognize that your child is in control of his or her body
– Teach your child words for body parts, urine, and bowel movements
-Expect and handle potty accidents without anger
-Avoid punishment as well as too much praise around toilet use. (This can make children feel bad when they aren’t successful.)
It is your child’s responsibility to:
– Decide whether to use the toilet or a diaper/pull-up
– Learn his body’s signals for when he needs to use the toilet
– Use the toilet at his own speed
Being patient is the best way you can support your child as she learns.
It’s important to approach toilet training matter-of-factly and without a lot of emotion. Think of it as just another skill you are helping your child learn. If you show anger or disappointment when it’s not going well, or overwhelming joy when it is, it lets your child know this is something you want him to do badly. Refusing to do it becomes a very powerful way for your child to feel in control.
It is also very important not to force your child to use the potty because it can cause intense power struggles. These power struggles sometimes lead to children trying to regain control over their bodies by withholding urine or bowel movements. This can create physical problems, like constipation.
Many parents wonder about offering rewards for using the potty—a sticker, an extra sweet, or a little toy every time their child is successful on the toilet. While these kinds of rewards may encourage progress in the short run, the concern is that for some children, the pressure of “success” in the form of the reward creates anxiety or feelings of failure when they have a (very normal and even expected) potty accident. The other risk is that the use of rewards for toileting can lead children to expect rewards for doing almost anything—finishing a meal, brushing teeth, etc. When parents are matter-of-fact about potty training and don’t make a big deal about it, children are more likely to follow their own internal desire to reach this important milestone. ”
Photo: My son’s favorite potty at the moment