And since I have not even begun with my 19 month old child yet, I know it will be an ongoing issue that I'm sure I will be re-addressing again and again. This is why this post is a 'Take 1' because there will without a doubt be a 'Take 2' blog post coming soon!
As moms, we all wonder: "What age should I start potty training?", "What method do I choose?" "Do I use the reward system with M and M's?" and gender issues such as "do I teach my little boy to potty standing up or sitting down?"
As moms we want our children to be done with the diapers for ease, cost and to move on to the next developmental milestone. But also because preschools out there are requiring a child to be potty trained before they can enter their program. So moms frantically run to the book store to find the best method, only to find over a hundred different books (parenting and children's) on the topic and no idea which one is the best.
As a counselor, the only thing I have ever recommended to my clients on the topic is this: Don't start them too early! They will tell you when they are ready and do not push them into it a day sooner.
Yes, there are those stories you hear of 18-month old children potty training completely. Or those children who were trained in 1 day. Or you hear moms tell you to try cloth diapers because children feel how wet they are more than disposable ones and will want to be trained sooner. Well, my child is in cloth diapers and I am here to tell you she is not potty trained yet. Yes, she knows when she has sometimes gone, but she is no where near ready to be diaper free!
As far as age goes, most recommend starting girls around 2.5 years and boys around age 3. But these are averages. Some before and some later. But most are trained and dry-free around these times. If your child is developmentally delayed in any way (speech, motor, physical, social) then it may take longer.
What's so bad about starting a little sooner?
Well, for one you will be met with a lot of resentment :) I've heard one too many stories of stubborn toddlers not wanting to comply at first and then it is a huge uphill battle from then on. It can backfire like no tomorrow. They refuse and then you don't have a fully trained child until age 4 or 5.
Another problem with starting too early comes from the old Dr. Freud term 'anal retentive'? Yep, it came from potty training and even though this doctor is ancient in his ways, it still holds a lot of truth. Maybe they won't all end up with Obsessive Compulsive personalities but children forced to train too early know that their only power at times is not going to the bathroom (second to refusing to eat food). They have little control over their lives, but gosh darn it, they can still refuse to poop if they don't want to. Holding it in and then getting constipated and ending up at the doctors office. Not fun for mom or child :)
One other thing to be cautious of is that some children develop fears of going to the bathroom. Fears of pooping scare them. Some also become afraid that they will fall into the toilet so they avoid using the grown up potty.
Also, remember that when you start training, any big things going on at home such as the birth of a new sibling or a move to a new house can cause set backs. If you start training your child and then have a huge new event in their lives, they will regress and forget everything they learned. I've heard this happen a lot (and not just potty training regressing but they can revert back to thumb sucking and pacifiers).
Case in point, it happened to one little girl I used to nanny for. Her mom wanted her trained before the next sibling was born, and who can blame her? So she bought the training in One Day book and it was a success at age 2! She was happily trained, but then her baby sister come home from the hospital a few weeks later, and back to diapers she went. It took another 6 months before she was fully trained again.
Okay, now that I've had my soap box, what method do you choose as a parent?
Well, I am not an expert in the matter, but I know that most methods generally fall under 3 categories: The one day method, the wait until the time is right method and the 'let them run around bare a few weeks until they get it method.' I personally think that you should go with whatever method fits you and your child. As long as it works and it doesn't put too much pressure on the little tot.
Method # 1) The One-Day Method
This book was written a long time ago, so it may be a little out dated but there are lots of parents who still swear by it and other books by the title exist as well. It involves getting a doll that wets to teach your child how to go, as well as giving treats. I've heard mixed reviews but would definitely read the ones on Amazon first to see if it's worth it to you.
Method # 2) The most common method in North America is 'Wait Until The Time is Right' and the main book on the topic is by Dr. Brazelton (he wrote the famous Touchpoints book).
This method (and this book in particular), stresses that age is not the deciding factor, but developmental readiness. It also has a checklist to go by so it takes out the guesswork of wondering if your child is ready or not. It is a slower approach and uses a calm, empathic manner with your child. It also has gender specific issues like should your little boy learn to sit down to urinate or stand?
Method # 3) Going Diaper Free
This is one of the newer methods that is a variation to the old 1970's approaches from the first method of training in one day. It basically involves having your child be diaper free while at home, watching and waiting for your child to show the need to go. Once they act like they need to go, you whisk them to the potty and praise them for going. To read more about it, Baby Center has a great article about it here.
Okay, so I think that about sums it up. Any one out there have great advice on the topic??? There are also a lot of great children's books out there and videos that will have to be in another post. For now, here's a starter that I bought as a joke in college but believe it or not, it's one of my daughter's favorite books to read! Everyone Poops (My Body Science Series)