If ever there was a reason for parents, potty training is it. Who else would put in the time and energy needed to convince a toddler that he should put his bodily waste in the proper place? No one I know. Yet this embodies the spirit of parenthood, and we dutifully nudge our progeny toward this most basic of civilized behaviors. We do it with a smile on our faces too (at least sometimes), as we look forward to the day when we can scratch the $15 jumbo diaper pack off the shopping list.
Except that sometimes we're still buying that jumbo pack two years later, after trying every toilet-training method in the books, as well as a few thrown at us by well-meaning grandmas, aunts, and assorted daycare providers. What's a thwarted parent to do when everything has been tried?
I feel your pain. My daughter was almost 4 before she started using the toilet for its intended purpose. I can tell you now that the decision to go potty is entirely the child's to make. Had I known this simple truth, I could have saved myself much gnashing of teeth.
Read on, and save yourself from my mistakes.
Annie is 15 months old and exhibiting signs of toddlerhood. She has a mind of her own and a proclivity toward using it. She gave up her pacifier without prompting at 9 months. She's weaning herself off the bottle, and she already wields a spoon like a pro. This, I think, bodes well for potty training.
As if on cue, my mom sends a little plastic toilet with a lid that opens and shuts, and a removable cup. Annie and I cover it with bright flower stickers and set it next to the toilet. We've always had an open-door policy, and now my husband and I take to proclaiming loudly whenever one of us has to use the bathroom so Annie can come and see how it's done. We take off her diaper and let her sit on her potty as we sit on ours, assuming that when she needs to go, she'll do what comes naturally. She doesn't. But we get so used to announcing our bodily intentions, we embarrass ourselves in front of guests anyway.
No movement, bowel or otherwise, on the potty front. Annie can watch an entire Teletubbies video and drink a whole sippy cup of milk while perched on her little seat, with nary a hint of needing to use it. She'll hold it until I put the diaper back on her. Hmm. It's early yet. I'm not worried. Nature will take its course.
Julie Tilsner is the author of Planet Parenthood: Adapting to Your New Life Form.