Unlike Any Other

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Categories Behavior, Development, Potty Training, Preschoolers, Toddlers

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.

Friday Portrait: 7/52

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?

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9 thoughts on “Unlike Any Other”

  1. This is the thing I least look forward to. My twins are going to be 2 next week and my word association to Potty Training is “butmywoodfloors!” Ugh. I keep thinking and hoping that their two days a week in daycare, where they do potty awareness stuff all day, will miraculously translate into potty trained toddlers. I know, doubtful.
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Easter Sunday =-.

  2. My oldest was a dream to potty train. Well, eventually she was. At 18 months she was READY! For 1 week she was completely trained then she stopped and refused to use the potty at all. So it was at 2.75 that we bribed, i mean trained her. We wanted her to move up to the 3 y/o room in daycare. She wanted a bike. We said, if you are completely free of pullups for 1 week, we’ll get you the bike. And she did it day and night! So, off to the store we went to by her bike. When we got home we saw her doing the pee-pee dance.
    Me: “K, do you need to go potty?”
    K: Yes.
    Me: Go to the bathroom then.
    K: No, I don’t have to anymore. I already got my bike.
    Me: Do you want to keep it?
    I am wondering how it will go with her little sisters. They are 21 months, know what a potty chair is but have no interest in it other than they get to be naked and it’s fun to stand in potty chairs.

  3. We’ve been working with our 3.5 year old son for over a year. He’s getting fairly reliable during the day, but just when we think we’re done we discover we’re not :)

  4. hmm. My oldest child potty trained in about 2 weeks. My b/g twins have been potty training for what seems like 2 years…groan. Where I thought a little peer (pee-er) pressure would be a good thing, it has turned into more of a competition to see who can be the laziest about it. yeah. hm. So I joined their ranks lately, and became the laziest of all. They’re back in pull ups. yawn. Maybe next week I’ll have the energy….

  5. My daughter was a breeze to potty train. At 22 months, she declared that she was ready (“Big girl panties! No, no diaper!), so we gave it a go. We tried the 3-day training approach, and she was pretty much trained in the first 5 hours. She’s had a few accidents here and there (though, miraculously, never outside of our home). She still needs a diaper at night, but is able to stay dry through naps.

    Her bother, on the other hand, shows quite a bit of interest, but so far has not been able to be all that successful on the potty. We tried training him right after his sister, but it was disastrous. We’re going to try again in a couple of weeks when my husband has spring vacation. At that point it will have been 3 months since our first attempt. Fingers crossed!
    .-= reanbean´s last blog ..Last Year’s Capris… =-.

  6. AAAH! My twin boys will be 3 in June. I do not yet have the mental energy, stamina, will or determination to undertake potty training them. I just downloaded the e-book “potty training bootcamp” for $5.95, maybe we will gear up and try it soon.
    I trained my older son (now age 8) and it went well until he had one uncomfortable BM and started “withholding”- what a nightmare. Miralax saved our lives but it was a hard road. A road I don’t want to travel again, although I must…

  7. I once was told that it is not Potty Training but Potty Learning…which I tried to remind myself when I would get extremely frustrated. Our girls showed signs at 2, 2.3, 2.5. 2.75… I finally decided it was time and potty trained them when they turned 3 while we were vacationing in Cabo. They did GREAT. This is a hard transition for kids. For us, I think once kids hit 2.5 – 3.5 years old we as parents raised the bar and expected a lot more from them. We did potty training, then we gave away our binkies, then we got big-girl-beds. In hindsight that was a lot for little girls, who were only 3 to deal with in a few month span. We have been very lucky and have had very good girls who took to transition well. I keep reminding myself — they are only 3, let them be 3.

    Good luck ladies……I know this is daunting, gross to clean up, and quite a task to do on-top of all the other stuff we need to do. Once done, you can sit back and be so proud of yourself and your kids.

  8. Well, we are working on potty training my 2 year old. I am just putting him in long pants and big boy underwear and letting him go in his pants. He will not like it and I tell him to go to the potty. We just started this, so hopefully it will be successfull. I also have twin newborn girls at home so I am ready to get one out of diapers! I am not giving up!

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