I know what you may be thinking, but no: This method does not require you to set aside a magic number of days in which to train your child. Nor does it involve forcing liquids or making your kid go bottomless. And as for elaborate sticker charts or reward systems? Absolutely not necessary.
No, to potty train without stress, I've discovered that you need just two things: A healthy kid and time.
Of course, it took me until after my third time around the potty-training block to realize this. Before that:
- Lucy easily mastered going #1 in the potty within 3 days just before their 2nd birthday in December 2010, but she refused to go #2 in the potty—waiting every day to poop in her pull-up at nap time—until their 3rd birthday (she even announced a few weeks ahead of time that this was when she would start doing it, the little stinker).
- Jude, who got off to a great start in March 2011 (a couple of months after the kids turned 2), also knew exactly what he was doing but was irresponsible enough (with #1 and #2) for so long that we kept him in pull-ups until just after their 3rd birthday.
- Dahlia was not ready when we tried to train her at the same time as Lucy, but when we made another attempt with her in May 2011 (when the kids were almost 2.5 years old), she proved that she was more than ready by mastering #1 and #2 in the potty within 3 days.
Based on these experiences, I'd decided to not even think about training Isaac for the foreseeable future—with his communication delays and sensory issues, I honestly couldn't imagine the day when he would be ready to train. People had assured me that he would see his siblings using the potty and want to do the same, but it just wasn't happening.
I did realize, however, that I had one advantage: I knew that Isaac liked to hide in the hallway when he needed to poop. So a couple of months ago I got brave and—contrary to conventional wisdom, which says that kids learn to go #1 in the potty before they learn to go #2 in the potty—I started putting him on the potty whenever I'd catch him hiding. He didn't like it at first, but I casually persisted. And my vigilance worked: Once he had his first success with pooping in the potty, he never looked back. I couldn't believe it had been that easy!
|Finally! Four potties crowding the bathroom floor.|
Scared to push my luck, I pushed all thoughts of pee-training him to the back of my mind. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that he was keeping his pull-up dry for hours at a time. So I decided to take things to the next level and started putting him on the potty every time I found him dry. At first he had no idea what I expected him to do, but when he finally had a success, it was like a light bulb went off in his head! Over the weekend, he even demonstrated that he can stay dry all day! And although he hasn't been completely accident-free since then, I now know that he knows exactly what he's doing when it comes to going potty. At age 3.5 ... not too shabby!
So there you have it, folks. The secret is simple: Wait until your kid shows undeniable physical signs of being ready, and then put him on the potty, calmly and consistently, until he realizes what he's supposed to do. No stress, no mess! Now that's my kind of potty training.