A couple days ago, a woman who belongs to a Facebook group I’m in was looking for potty training advice.
Her three-year-old is giving her a hard time.
She refuses to go to the bathroom on the toilet.
I remember those days.
They weren’t that long ago.
Number 7 is four and a half.
But we have been diaper and Pull Up free for a while now.
And this is one of those topics that everybody has an opinion on.
It’s also one of those parenting stages that can make you want to gouge your eyeballs out with a replica of the Empire State Building.
I’m no doctor, I’m no child psychologist, and I’m no early education specialist.
But I do have some experience in this department.
And I know there are probably a whole butt load of parents whose three-year-olds are weeks away from preschool but who are still nowhere near being completely potty trained, and they are freaking the hell out.
So here is my advice.
Your kid is not the only kid to basically be telling you to go f*ck yourself every time you mention the big girl potty.
Your kid is not the only kid who still refuses to pee in the toilet.
Your kid is not the only kid who will only poop in a Pull Up while he is hiding behind the couch or in a closet.
Your kid is not the only kid who couldn’t care less about rewards and incentives.
Your kid is also not the only kid who will pee seventeen times an hour because she has now figured out that every time she pees she gets an M&M. But you could give her the whole damn bag of M&Ms and she still refuses to poop in the potty.
After having seven children in our house go through potty training, I can tell you one thing for sure.
There isn’t one thing that works for every kid.
And the bottom (no pun intended) line is that when your kid is ready, your kid will let you know.
We have had kids in our house respond very well to stickers and candy as rewards.
We have had kids in our house who pretty much potty trained themselves.
We have kids who were still pooping in their pants on the first day of preschool.
We have kids who have never ever wet the bed at night, and then we have kids who still need to be woken up because they sleep so soundly they are just incapable of waking themselves up when they have to pee.
We have kids who pretty much skipped the pull ups altogether, and then we have kids who took forever to be out of them.
It took me about four or five kids, but what I finally learned is you can feel pressured by your mother or grandmother or whichever older person apparently feels the need to make you feel like a complete piece of crap and tell you that when her kids were little they were completely potty trained by the time they were two years old or your kid is way too old to still be in a diaper and you can convince yourself that your kid will still be wearing a diaper when she is in middle school.
Or you can relax.
The potty wars are no fun.
For you or your kid.
And the more of a battle it becomes, the more of a battle it becomes.
The more stressed you are, the more stressed your kid is.
And there is a very good chance that the more you push things, the more push back you will receive.
I lost my shit on Number 4 (who wouldn’t lose her shit on the potty) when she was two years old.
She is a smart kid.
And everyone makes it so clear how girls are ready for this step much earlier than boys.
Then, of course, a friend of mine started bragging about her eighteen-month-old who was already pooping in the toilet.
I started to feel the need to compete with that.
What the hell? Number 4 was smart, and some kid six months younger than her was already pooping in the potty????
My kid was not going to be outpooped by anyone.
So as I’m losing it on Number 4, a two-year-old, and telling her she was not getting off that &*$!ing potty until she deposited something in it, I pulled my head out of my ass.
What the hell was I doing?
The more I pushed, the less she pushed.
I took her off the potty and put a diaper on her.
This was way too stressful. For both of us.
She was totally potty trained in time for preschool when she was three.
And she had declared that when she was four, she would no longer need a Pull Up at night.
On her fourth birthday, she came downstairs first thing in the morning, looked at me and said, “I’M FOUR NOW! I DON’T NEED A PULL UP ANYMORE!”
And that was that.
She was done.
It was on her own terms.
Number 6, on the other hand, took forever to get his act together.
He was not completely potty trained by the time he went to preschool.
He had the peeing part down.
But he was one of those behind the couch, stealth poopers.
When you weren’t looking, he’d run to his room, get a Pull Up, and poop in it on the sly.
He had quite a few accidents in the first few months of preschool.
And then, one day, he just decided to poop in the toilet, and that was that.
If you are having the preschool-is-almost-here-and-my-kid-isn’t-ready freakout…
Our preschool was very understanding. Most of them are.
And I think seeing other kids going to the bathroom on the potty at school helped give a couple of our kids the push they needed.
There’s something to be said for peer pressure.
When your kid is ready, your kid will be ready.
Some kids walk early.
Some kids walk late.
Some kids talk early.
Some kids talk late.
Some kids are potty trained early.
And some are potty trained late.
And unless your kid is eighteen years old and still pooping in a Pull Up in his closet,
you’ve got nothing to worry about.