Why I'm Letting My Daughter Potty Train Herself

Health & Wellness on 09.01.11
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My daughter has been showing interest in potty training for quite a while now, but we haven't committed to really forcing her to do it. It started several months ago when she was taking her diaper off every time she messed it and her school was pushing me to start training her. I bought her underwear and we tried it for periods of time here and there, but she wasn't really that interested except for maybe wearing it over her diaper. She was also barely two and barely spoke so I decided if she couldn't communicate to me that she had to go, that it was just too early (even though I know there are people who do elimination communication from infancy). But what I've found in the months since is that she's now actually potty training herself and in a lot of ways it makes total sense.

Don't Force It

My son didn't potty train until he was three years and three months old. It was one of those we have to do it so you can start pre-school next week situations. He just wasn't interested, and I had to promise a big new toy to get it accomplished. I figured if my daughter trained any time before that age (which isn't for another year) I could consider it a success. Other friends have locked themselves down at home for a week and trained their kids because they felt it was time, and some friends have tried and their kids continue to resist so they give up and will try again in another month.

Like most two-year-olds my daughter is strong willed, although I'd say she carries a level of independence that rivals the best of them. While I don't let her win too many battles of the wills, I also don't see the point in forcing her to do something that she isn't interested in, especially when there isn't really any reason to rush it other than to save money on diapers. Instead of telling her she's going to wear underwear and use the potty which she wouldn't agree to do on a consistent basis, I kept her in diapers and would offer her the option to use the potty throughout the day. Sometimes she would and sometimes she wouldn't.

Then one day she was at the store with me to get diapers and decided she wanted Pull Ups. I bought them and since that day she has refused to put on another diaper. Some days she chooses to use the bathroom 70 percent of the time. Some days, I'm changing her every hour. When she uses the potty, she gets a big high five and everyone tells her good job. When she doesn't and goes in her diaper, it's no big deal. We just change her.

I notice that she is using it more and more and she'll use it at school to when she wants to. Her teachers, my husband, and I just offer her the option and often she chooses it. It is inevitable that she will eventually use it all of the time, and I'm ok if she is the one who makes the decision as to when that is going to be, particularly at this point when she isn't even two-and-a-half years old. I've never met a person who wasn't potty trained. We all figure it out, and she will too.

The Downsides to Forcing Potty Training

Besides that, I don't see what the rush is in people wanting to get their kids potty trained. Yes, it is awesome to be able to not have to buy diapers anymore. Believe me; I've had at least one kid in diapers for nearly five and a half years. I get it. But there are also downsides to rushing it.  For instance, it is almost without question that children who no longer wear diapers will say they have to go to the bathroom as soon as you pull out of the driveway. I am avoiding the extra loads and loads of laundry that occur when you decide one day that there will be no more diapers. And considering that my daughter was a late talker and still often requires a bit of interpretation, I don't have to try to figure out if she's telling me that she has to go pee, she wants to go see her brother "T" or that she saw a bird in a tree.

Baby Steps

We may be taking baby steps in the potty training department, but it's also been a virtually stress free experience instead of the constant battle to get them to sit on the potty and extra hours spent doing laundry when they won't. It wasn't my intention for her to potty train this way, but it has been a much more pleasant way to get through one of the least pleasant parts of parenthood. And I have little doubt that it won't be too long before she's all the way trained so I'm going to just sit back and let her decide when she's ready for that.

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