Toilet learning is something that so many parents struggle with, yet somehow I thought I’d make it through unscathed. Julia has been using the potty occasionally since she was just a couple of months old. You can read about our early Elimination Communication journey here.
But this week I realized that I’ve been rushing her and so I’ve decided to back way off and try again when she’s more interested and ready.
She’s a pro at knowing when she has to poop and has done that consistently on the potty since she was about six months old! Hooray! However, peeing is another story.
I’ve been “catching” her pee for her whole life, but unless she’s nude, she doesn’t seem to understand that she’s about to go. It’s fascinating to me that all summer long, we’d just leave her pants off and she would always run to the potty when she needed to go. But as soon as we put a pair of training underwear on, she seems to lose the ability to anticipate going and she definitely doesn’t have any interest in running over to the potty. She’d much rather pee in her underwear.
We’ve done all sorts of things to encourage her like playing games, racing to see who can pee first, showing her doll how to go on the potty, reading books about the potty etc. I’ve even started to ask her to pull down the wet undies herself (which is hard!) and take them to her diaper bin.
But the truth is, she just doesn’t seem to mind running around in wet underwear and she kind of enjoys any new task I offer that invites her to take more responsibility for herself and her things. So, rather than being a motivator for change, taking care of her wet underwear is just another fun new task that she can accomplish with pride.
Since I do my best not to bribe her, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to motivate her to keep her underwear dry. I mean really, what’s in it for her?
Last week was the worst. She seemed to clue in to the fact that all the adults in her life would like her to keep her underwear dry and since she’s two and a half, the lure of defiance and subsequent feelings of power were just too strong to resist. She started to hold it while sitting on the potty and then go in her pants ten minutes later. Needless to say, I was frustrated with the backsliding.
But since she has NEVER yet told me, “Mama, I have to pee,” I’ve decided that she’s just not ready yet, and we’re going back into diapers for a time. I just need to let go of my hope that she would have learned to go on the potty by now and relax into the knowledge that she’ll learn it when she’s ready and motivated to learn.
“If you want to pee in your pants, that’s fine, that’s what diapers are for, so we’ll just go back to diapers and when you’re ready, we’ll try underwear again.” She is fine with it. In fact, I think she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to run to the potty every hour. She’s busy learning and growing in so many other ways, and she’s just not interested in potty learning right now.
She did mention that the diapers are more bulky and uncomfortable than the underwear is. Maybe that will help to motivate her when she’s more ready. And when it’s warm again, we can let her run around in the buff, which somehow makes it easier for her to tell she’s about to pee.
I know a lot of preschools in my area require children to be “potty trained” before admittance (at around 3 years old) which can be quite stressful if you’d like to enroll your child, but he’s not yet using the toilet reliably. Luckily, we’re homeschooling for the time being, so no worries there.
I’m curious, how did you handle toilet learning? Did you resort to bribes? Do you think that’s OK? Or did you just wait until your child showed a genuine interest? What seemed to motivate them to learn to use the toilet? And at what age did it happen?
I guess I’ll run over to the library and check out “The No-Cry Potty Training Solution” Oh, and by the way, if you’re struggling to figure out whether your child is ready or not, I like this quiz for “potty training” readiness from Elizabeth Pantley.
Have a great week! Warmly, Shelly