Our experiences in potty training our children have been completely different. I don't know if it has to do with their personalities, temperaments, birth order, or the fact that Mommy is a little smarter the second time around.
Either way, I did learn something from our potty training experience that can translate into most areas of parenting.
We need to wait until our children are ready.
Our daughter had an oral sensory issue as a baby causing her to not eat table food until she was two. Thinking that she would be behind on potty training as well (and since no mother wants to hear the "Oh, she's not potty trained yet???" remark that is never said to make you feel awkward), I decided to start potty training her soon after her 2nd birthday.
Total fail on my part!
She wasn't ready, had no desire, and was happy with a diaper. After a few weeks, I gave up. She tried. She really did.
She just wasn't ready.
Just before she turned three we went out to eat and she declared at the table that she had to go potty. I took her to the bathroom and she had a dry diaper. She went "potty" and announced on her way back to our table for the world to hear that she did it!
Flash forward a few years and now we have Ian. He has been eating table food since he was 6 months old. He began speaking earlier than Addie did. People are constantly telling us how amazed they are with his vocabulary and how clearly he speaks. He knows all of his letters and their sounds. He can count past 10 and knows consecutive sets of numbers in the teens (I have only taught him to count to 10).
What's the difference?
He has Addie.
Ian has learned from his sister how to do everything she does. He has listened as I have taught her. He has even learned about the potty from her.
About a month ago, Ian began telling me when he had gone in his diaper. He did not like the feel of being wet or dirty. Brian suggested that I begin potty training our little guy.
I was not thrilled.
I thought back to my potty training experience with Addie, how many accidents I had to clean up off the floor and how we needed to stay home. Summer is coming up quickly, and I have so many outings and activities planned for us to enjoy. Potty training was just not going to fit in my schedule.
But I did what my husband said.
One morning after Ian woke up, I noticed that he was dry. I asked him if he wanted to sit on the potty like a big boy and wear big boy underwear (Mickey Mouse and Thomas the Train- you know... big boy underwear).
He said yes.
I told him that if he went in the potty (I will spare you the "mommy terms" I used with him), I would give him gum. He had never had gum before and had asked for it for months.
He lit up.
After a few minutes, he went.
I told him that if he went again, I would give him more gum.
I did not give him excess amounts of liquid. But I did ask him regularly (every 30 minutes) for the first two days if he had to go. I would then sit him down and tell him to try going. This gave him the muscle control practice he needed.
With the exception of two early morning accidents on our second day, he is completely potty trained.... and I am out of gum.
I posed the question on Facebook if potty training a boy was supposed to be that easy. I got a variety of responses from across the spectrum.
I think the key to potty training, whether it is a boy or girl, is to wait until the child is ready (within reason).
Some children are ready much earlier than others. Pressuring them to potty train because they need to keep up with another child does not help them. Comparing them to other children or shaming them is not beneficial to them or you.
Watch for the signs.
Do they insist on being changed right after they wet or dirty their diaper?
Do they show an interest in big kid underwear?
Work with your child.
Is your child naturally compliant or does he or she have a strong will?
Does your child respond to affirmation? (Addie and I had to cheer and high five Ian each time he went on the potty for the first couple of days. He eats that up!)
Is there something that your child really likes but doesn't get often? Use that to your advantage and reward him for going in the potty.
Earlier today, I had a great sense of pride as my son came to me and said, "Please, can I go potty?" But even better than that is the freeing feeling when I realized that I do not have to purchase diapers ever again! That is one aisle at the store I will not miss going down.