If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two months, it is this simple truth: potty training is completely unlike all previous transitions of baby- and toddler-hood.
The moms of older kids are just shaking their heads and chuckling at me right now, and that’s just fine. We all come to these realizations in our own time.
While you can argue about “readiness” for the other big transitions of the first few years (sleeping through the night, letting go of bottles or pacifiers, etc.), I have found that most of them you can kind of muscle your way through. Choose your approach, implement it consistently, and grit your teeth for the three or four days it takes to make the transition. A friend of mine has a theory that nearly everything with babies and kids takes about three to four days to settle in, so you have to give it that long.
Potty training is an entirely different beast. Maybe it’s because they’re older and more manipulative smarter. Maybe it’s because, instead of “removing” something, you’re asking them to actively “do” something. Maybe it’s the perfect storm of development and control. But try as I might, it simply is not something you can just hunker down and get through in a couple of days.
Of course, even that isn’t entirely true. Never was there a situation that was more child-specific. My daughter actually took to potty training rather well. The first week or two felt long, but the truth is that she took to it quickly, and has stayed shockingly consistent. Barely two months later and she is, knock on wood, even Pull-Up free at night and nap. That’s just her thing.
Her brother, on the other hand… well. He seemed to take to it well the first week. And then the second week arrived and, pardon the expression, it was an absolute shitstorm of constant accidents. He’d have a success or two in the morning, and then straight downhill for the rest of the day. After a looong week and a half of constant accidents (on his part) and a complete emotional breakdown (on my part), I put him back in Pull-Ups, full-time. Since then, he has absolute negative interest in the potty. He has used it here and there, but mostly wants nothing to do with it. And he’s in such an intensely controlling, contrary, stubborn phase right now, I’m simply stepping away and not turning it into a massive power struggle.
You just never know what you’re going to get when it comes to potty training. You could have the kid who can hold it for hours on end, or the one who has to sprint to the bathroom every 45 minutes. You could have the one who’s afraid of pooping, or the one who will happily sit on the pot anywhere and everywhere.
And you’ll never know until you try.
So, you parents of potty trainees, how have your kids varied in their potty hang-ups? What were their struggles and successes? Did you find a particular approach worked wonders on one child and was a disaster with the other?