My daughter is 3 1/2 and in my opinion long overdue for potty training. (But that may be because I have been the one who has changed the bulk of her diapers). I have tried on and off for well over a year. Actually, I think it was closer 2 years ago I bought the underwear and the portable potty seats in anticipation. However, my daughter had different ideas. And I have learned that when it comes to my daughter if you push it will make matters worse. So I didn’t push. Every time I would try we would just end up with lots of pee on the floor despite being armed with all sorts of incentives. She just wasn’t interested. So time would pass and we would eventually try again. And in between times we would talk and read about it …lots.
Lately, she has been telling us that she would go on the potty when she was all grown up like Mommy and Daddy. Of course, we always pointed out all the people her size that we knew who went on the potty already. I had read that kids will go potty when they are ready so I have been trying to believe in that. At the same time I couldn’t help but wonder if I was doing something wrong. I should also admit here that I haven’t been looking forward to having a newly potty trained kid on the go. There are so many challenges to consider: what if she has to go when we are on the freeway? what if she has to go when we have walked to the store and there is no washroom? what if we are anywhere that we are not close to a potty and she has to go? (Now that we are on day 5 I have a lot more confidence it will all work out). Were these worries allowing me to delay potty training when really I should be pushing harder?
And then last Thursday we got up and talked about potty training again. And again, my daughter said “when I grow big like Mommy and Daddy I can go on the potty, too”. And this time I said “if you think the toilet is too big, do you know that you can use your little potties?” And then she looked sideways at me and I suddenly knew she was intimidated by the big toilet and the potty insert that could sometimes slip. So I asked her if she wanted to give it a try and she said sure so we put big girl panties on.
Not long later she had peed in her panties and there was a big puddle on the floor. She was also wearing her crocs at the time and they had a big puddle in them, too. So I grabbed her, put her in the tub, and showered off her bottom half and her shoes. She then refused to put on panties and simply sat on her little potty and played the rest of the day. She was going to make sure she didn’t miss the potty again. Later she told me not to spray her again with the shower and I realized I must have traumatized her with spraying her down. It certainly seemed to give her potty motivation. She didn’t miss the potty again …until two days later when we added wearing panties to the equation.
Friday we cancelled music class and stayed home for more potty training. Now that we were on a roll I wasn’t interrupting it with outside activities. I was ready to hunker down and see this job through. Day two I let her be panty-less again as I could see she was getting more confident. She was now playing freely and being able to know when it was time to go to the potty. And, she was getting there on time. And she was so happy and proud of herself. She danced and sang made up potty songs and declared that she loved pooping on the potty.
Saturday I decided it was time for her to practice with underwear on. At first this did not go well. She had a hard time getting them down so she pooped in her pants. We changed them. And then she peed in them while standing there. She hadn’t even attempted to get close to the potty. I talked to her about needing to learn because we couldn’t go outside naked. She just told me that she could wear pull ups when we went out. She is such a problem solver.
I really didn’t want to go backwards so I made up a game because really she just needed to practice pulling those panties down. When I yelled “potty practice” she was to run to the potty, pull her panties down, and sit on the potty. If she did this then she would get chocolate. She doesn’t usually get chocolate but I was willing to give her most favourite treat to help boost her confidence. And when I yelled “potty practice” I went right beside her and pulled down my pants and squatted, too. It seemed to work and she was right back on track.
We did Saturday and Sunday with just underwear. Today we have added pants. And she is doing great. She even wakes up dry (I have been putting pull ups on at night at her request but we are almost completely out of those so I am happy to see she seems to be able to make it through the night ). We even went to the store today, too.
I think the answer to ‘when will you know if your child is ready for potty training?’ is the same as the answer to ‘when will you know when you are in love?’: you will just know.