“Please, please sit on the potty and just try… it’s so… FUN!”
This was me. For months. I begged and pleaded. Read 2 books on potty training. Bribed and borderline threatened. I tried being gentle and understanding. I tried being firm and no nonsense. I paused efforts for a few weeks or months and then tried again with a new method. I was hopeful my daughter to potty train before her brother was born. And then before we moved. And then before preschool started in the fall. She was 2 and then 2 1/2 and then 3.
And then, I gave up.
My 3 year old could care less than I was knee deep in diapers between her and her brother. The potty and independence and cool underwear didn’t appeal to her at all. And I was over the battle. Over the accidents. Over the stress. She was unhappy with “the super awesome and cool adventure of potty training” and I was practically beside myself. I never thought potty training could test someone’s spirit, but mine had been tested. And crushed.
I remember the conversation with my husband well. “I’m going to stop encouraging her to use the potty,” I said. “She doesn’t want to and it is negatively effecting our relationship. She’ll do it someday. On her own. So I hear.”
And she did, believe it or not. At the solid age of 3 years and 7 months, my daughter decided that she was done with diapers — day and night. One day she hopped on the potty without a struggle, wiped, washed hands, and asked me for the underwear that had be tucked in her dresser drawer for months. For a few weeks I popped her in Pull-Ups at bedtime and longer outings and before they caught and accident they’d wear out from so many ups and downs. My girl was officially potty trained. Finally!
So, when I caught the potty training bug with my second I ignored it. I waited for him to prompt everything. On occasion I’d ask if he wanted to wear underwear and I’d provide opportunities to use the potty, but that was all.
When he was 3 years and 5 months, two weeks after his baby brother was born (read, not the ideal time to potty train since I was still recovering) he decided he wanted to quit diapers cold turkey. Of course, I’d just bought a mega pack of his size diapers, but whatever, I rolled with it. To this day, I have over a hundred size 5 diapers tucked in my laundry room. He never used a diaper again.
So, the right age to potty train? WHEN YOUR CHILD IS READY. Not when you are ready. Not when the books say it’s time. Not when your sister’s kids potty trained or when your neighbor says it’s about time.
Little ones have a high capacity to learn and achieve new things; things like potty training. If we as parents open the door and provide opportunity, when they’re ready, they’ll walk through and gain confidence from making their own choice.