Potty training is one of those things in parenthood that is unavoidable. When and how to potty train are common topics of conversation amongst those of us in the throes of toddlerhood.
Much like everything in parenthood (in life?), there is a great deal of pressure and judgment around potty training. Parents seem to judge one another based on the age at which a child does or does not drop the diapers.
My daughter is just over two-and-half. Potty training became a hot topic by the time she was 15 months. There have been times over the past year that she has shown interest in using the potty. Given her age and the fact that her peers were all starting to use the potty, I felt the pressure to ditch the diapers. I told her teachers. We talked “potty” at home. We read the books and watched Elmo. I planned to put MY big girl pants on and power through over a long weekend.
But I realized that while I personally experienced pressure, like I wasn’t “tough enough” to get the job done, I missed the fact that she just wasn’t ready.
The day came and we put on her big girl underwear. She had no interest. I asked her if she wanted to go pee pee on the potty and she clearly said “no pee pee on the potty.” I ignored her and kept trying to power through.
As the day continued on, her normally cheery and bubbly attitude turned to one of shame and embarrassment. Her emotional response was out of the norm. After the last and final accident, she ran away from me so frantically that I was worried for her safety.
So I pulled the potty and grabbed a diaper.
Like everything in parenting, we all have choices. We all need to decide what works best for our children. Potty training is no different.
For now, I’ve decided to trust my daughter and respect her feelings.
As the great Magda Gerber, founder of Resources for Educarers (RIE) wrote, “Learning to use the toilet is a process that takes time. Rather than push or manipulate your child by giving him treats such as candy or a special reward for something that he will learn on his own, trust that he will learn it when he is ready. Respect is based on trust.”
Instead of “training” her, I will wait for clearer signs of readiness. She couldn’t fully verbalize the emotions she was having through training, but it was easy to read her non-verbal cues that the timing wasn’t right. And the good news is, I’m pretty sure she won’t go to kindergarten in diapers. And I’m still an okay parent even though she’s still in diapers at two-and-a-half.