“I just feel like people are staring at me because she’s still in diapers,” my friend told me. “It feels like a reflection on my parenting skills.”
“No,” I responded. “It’s a reflection on your potty training skills.”
It’s one of those things we are not supposed to judge in one another, but somehow always do. Like using a pacifier or shyness, we wonder whether the child is not yet potty trained because the parents are doing something wrong. Maybe the parent is. This is always a possibility. But, even if this little girl is still not daytime trained at three because her mother ranks among the world’s most abysmal potty trainers, it still says absolutely nothing about her parenting skills.
And, as those of us who have been around for a little while can tell you, with most such situations, it has a hell of a lot more to do with the child than it does with the parent. Zachary may be a pickier or a less picky eater because of me, but you can be pretty sure he’d be picky to some extent no matter which mother he got saddled with. Kids are who they are, and we can only help ease these traits so much.
That said, people often want to know the secret of our potty training success. And it seems unkind to tell them to parent an early potty trainer. So, here’s the only advice I can give: start early.
Ignore all the experts who tell you to wait till the child shows potty readiness. When the kid is 18 months old, have a potty in the bathroom. Talk about going to the potty. Read books about it. Every now and then, especially IMMEDIATELY after waking up, put the child on the potty. Then cheer vociferously when the child goes.
No, your child probably won’t be fully daytime trained for months to come, maybe even a year. But, when he or she IS ready, you won’t be contending with a child who is afraid of the potty because it is new and different. You won’t have a kid who holds it in for hours, rather than go on the potty. He’s been using the potty as long as he can remember; now it is just time to use it more frequently.
That’s it. That’s the sum of my potty training advice. Take it or leave it. And don’t ask me for nighttime training advice, because I suck at that.
It’s a reflection on my potty training skills.