Potty Training Works When You Break All the Rules

potty trainingWhen it came time to start potty training my son, I think I just about broke all the rules. In my neighborhood, there's pressure to potty train your child early because some of the fancier preschools will not accept children who are still in diapers. But there's also a kind of arms race among parents, a bit of playground competition, like every other child development milestone.

Well, potty training is not a competition. And all the rules are completely useless. Ideal age? Using the right pull-ups? Scheduled potty-sitting time? Forget it. I think you need to be a potty training renegade to get the job done. For me and my son, it was all about waiting until he was ready, watching his signals, and letting him figure it out himself.


Ditch the tricked-out training pull-ups. First of all, they're more expensive. I know kids love the cartoon characters, but I think they just enable your kid to prolong the diaper phase. They're just too cushy, comfortable, and fun. What really worked for me was to make going in your pants as uncomfortable and undesirable as possible. So no Buzz Lightyear flashing-lights trainers for us.

No rewards. I did not bribe my son into sitting on the potty. Well, actually, I tried to at first but then I stopped because it wasn't working. His real issue with sending his bowel movements to the right receptacle had more to do with the freaky sensation of sending it into the void. Existential poo angst! So I watched him for those pre-poo moments when he suddenly got really quiet and contemplative. Then I rushed him over to the potty and just hung out with him, making sure he felt extra comfortable and safe.

Naked time. I kept telling people about this technique and they kept saying, "Mmm hmmm, yeah, that's gross." But I swear, it works. Just roll up your rugs and give your kids some naked time for a few hours every day. They will totally make the connection between what comes out of them and where it goes.

No hurry. My son got phase one of potty training down in a flash at 2 1/2. Phase two (poo) took longer. And I can't even tell you how old he was before he stayed dry through the night for fear that he'll grow up, read this, and sue me. Seriously, it took years. And what's the hurry, anyway? Aside from those preschools who push early training, you're just swapping one inconvenience for another. So you're out of diapers now, hooray. Welcome to the world of constantly finding acceptable public restrooms. Welcome to the joy of public urination.

Are you potty-training by the book or are you a potty-training renegade?

Image via valentinapowers/Flickr

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