May 16, 2003

And Now for Something Completely Different (And Of Interest to Parents Only): Toilet Training Learning

There's been too much doom and gloom on this blog of late. And in the grand scheme of things, what does it really matter? Well, it doesn't matter, obviously. At the end of the day, it's all bloody well irrelevant, isn't it? So let's talk about the stuff that really matters when it's 6 a.m. and you're thinking, "Oh hell, another diaper change?"

Toilet training. Er, uh, toilet learning.

My son is 22 months old. Is it too early? Or, god forbid, is it too late? (have we missed the boat? destined to diaper for the next decade or so?)

I can't keep track of the new theories. Oh, I guess I could. But I won't keep track of the new theories. Those books and websites make me nervous, make me think I'm coming up short as a mother. You're guilty until proved innocent, it seems to go. And you won't be proved innocent until you're six feet under and somebody recalls that you weren't so bad, after all, you once read Picture This ten times in a row and without skipping pages even though you had the flu and your head was aching.

So what's the story with toilet training? When to start and how to proceed?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at May 16, 2003 02:30 AM

Don't panic. Our son did not learn (w/o accidents) until his third birthday, and that was common among our friends with kids. We started training at about 2.5 years. The thing is to not overthink this (although I did). For some reason, kids just know when its their time.

Posted by: John Lemon at May 16, 2003 04:40 AM

We started our son at about 25 months (prompted by the high cost of nappies in the Netherlands where I was doing some research). There were only a few accidents (he was horrified). A few weeks of nappyless days and he stopped wetting the nappy at night, but we kept one on (the same one, as it happened) for about a month just to be on the safe side.
Don't worry about it.

Posted by: Anthony Jukes at May 16, 2003 06:23 AM

"We started training at about 2.5 years."

Aha! You call yourself a conservative, but I've discovered your liberal side. If you were a conservative on this one, you'd say, Start them at 18 months, and no nonsense about it.

Seriously, this is one of those parenting issues where there is a huge generational gap, and mothers and mothers-in-law want to know what the heck you are doing. People used to toilet train much earlier.

But I don't want to be responsible for creating yet another anal-retentive personality, so I guess I should not even think about this until he's at least two.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at May 16, 2003 12:08 PM

IA, I have two sons. We began around 2 1/2, but things didn't click til they were three. The second kid literally woke up one day right before he was three and suddenly went to the potty. I don't think that anything I did or didn't do had an iota of an impact.

I agree re: waiting until at LEAST two or perhaps later. I know that the personal need to cross this bridge and get out of diapers is a big incentive but I think you're just wasting your time before that and if you introduce the concept too early, it will lose its novelty (a big draw) before they are really physiologically ready for it. You and he will both know when he's really ready.

PS good point re: the generational gap --- a commenter on my last blog entry actually made the point that the "so-and-so was potty trained by..." kept getting younger and younger w/each conversation. ;)

Posted by: Michelle at May 16, 2003 12:19 PM

That's just braggin - if the conversation had gone on any longer, you'd be hearing things like " not accepted to Harvard until age 18? Well, I guess that your kid was a late bloomer - not that there's anything wrong with that ...".

Posted by: Barry at May 16, 2003 01:35 PM

Barry, I think the idea was that perhaps the grandparents' memory was so skewed that the potty-training story was evolving more into potty-training legend with the success rate distorted to a level of absurdity! ;)

Posted by: Michelle at May 16, 2003 01:42 PM

Ha-haaa! I can no longer remember at what age our two crossed over, but it is seven or eight years ago that I last changed a diaper. O happy day!

Posted by: Gideon Strauss at May 16, 2003 02:25 PM

When I worked in ECE (about ten years), most of the kids I worked with weren't developmentally ready for toilet training until they were closer to three years old. This isn't saying that it's impossible to toilet train an 18-month old or a 2.5 year old, but they are more physically and emotionally capable as they enter their preschool years. I think stay-at-home kids have more success when they're younger because of consistency, but I wouldn't worry too much about your son. My son is nearly 31 months and he's just now showing interest in sitting on his potty. We've had it in the bathroom since he was two and he mostly used it to climb on and grab toothbrushes or turn on the faucet. Now he sees a connection. Of course, he doesn't do anything yet, but he'll sit down without a diaper. No rush, however... we're slowly moving in the direction of toilet training, and when he's ready, he's ready.

Posted by: Mariann at May 16, 2003 05:11 PM

Actually, IA, I'm of the Ayn Rand school of child-raising and wanted him potty-trained by 8 months, batting .350 by age 18 months and solving differential equations by 2 years. My wife is from the Dr. Spock school. She always wins.

Posted by: John Lemon at May 16, 2003 05:38 PM

I think about 2 1/2 to 3 was when ours did it. Don't rush. For both of them it was about a two week process that was pretty easy because they were ready for it. A few thousand readings of Once Opon a Potty and The Princess and the Potty helped. I think the youngest actually asked to start.
Also, don't think that the end of diapers is all that great. With a diaper if the kid has to go they just go, and you change it when you can. Right after diapers there is a longish phase where they are announcing that they have to go NOW and you have to stop whatever and find them a potty. Plus the long periods of hanging around the bathroom to help, rather than your 2 minute diaper drill. Plus going and then realizing you have to go some more. There are various ways to manage these, but none of them work.

Posted by: Alan B. at May 16, 2003 05:44 PM

The Ayn Rand school of child-raising, eh? Good thing your wife always wins.

One of very, very few Simpsons episodes that I've never seen (and they never show it on reruns, or if they do, I always miss it): the one where Maggie attends the Ayn Rand daycare and the kids use communitarian cooperation to make an escape. I would pay money to see this one...

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at May 16, 2003 06:09 PM

My son was finally toilet-trained at almost exactly three, just in time for his first trip to his grandparents. We took the train from Portland to Minnesota, and about once an hour he had me take him to the bathroom at the end of the car. I think that he liked the experience. Up till that trip he'd been nearly-trained, but with accidents.

Posted by: zizka at May 16, 2003 06:18 PM

For what it's worth, both my boys told us when they were ready, and both were at about 3 years. But this is a real "your mileage may vary" thing, based on the varying accounts I've heard from women on my September 96 moms' list.

Posted by: Liz at May 16, 2003 07:21 PM

I don't remember how old the eldest daughter was when she potty trained (she's 25 and married now); but I do remember that we switched to cloth diapers for the process. Disposables were far too comfortable.

Posted by: jam at May 16, 2003 09:54 PM

i want once opon a potty

Posted by: at November 23, 2003 10:33 PM