Toilet training. We’ve tried the candy thing, the sticker thing, the toy thing — everything with our 3- and 4-year-old. We have friends who have kids who have been potty trained forever now. Yet it seems like most of the kids in my son’s class — including him — are still struggling with it.
I attended a parent workshop recently to see if I could get any helpful hints on toilet training. You know, the kind in a community-center-in-a-church-basement place. The child development professional was a sweet older lady who has helped toilet train everybody from autistic and special needs children to her own grandchildren. And now, I feel better.
Hard facts on toilet training
Only 22 percent of children are toilet trained by age 2.5 years old. While 88 percent are toilet trained by a year later that leaves a fairly big chunk of kids still working things out into the 4-year-old range.
The instructor I had hates the food reward, forcing kids to go, praise and, especially, Pull-Ups. She’s a fan of the no-praise, no-reward, child-directed “whenever it happens” is when it is developmentally appropriate method. She had lots of worksheets about readiness and tips and I definitely had a few takeaways about how I can move things along with my own kids.
But, mostly, I learned … OK, maybe more like I was reminded … that kids do their own thing when it comes to toilet training. As a parent, follow your gut about what is right for your child. And don’t listen to what others are saying. Seriously. Don’t listen to other parents. Don’t listen to the fancy parenting ideas that have caught on at your school. Then don’t get anxiety about whether or not you’re doing the right thing. If it’s your kid and you’re being smart about working with your kid then you probably are doing the right thing.
The only piece of advice I offer — and this is speaking as both a parent and someone who has studied that whole academic child psychology thing — is that you can’t make your kid eat. You can’t make your kid sleep. And you can’t make your kid pee somewhere he or she doesn’t want to. If you need help, though don’t hesitate to get help. Of course.
In the end, however, your influence as a parent basically is being able to set your kids up for success and then hoping. That goes for all of life. If your “Camp In The Bathroom All Weekend” style of potty training worked for you, great. Just also be aware that most people have a 3-year-old who can barely pull their pants down by themselves let alone anything else. So don’t sweat it.
A version of this first appear on Newfangled Dad.