By Sarah Hamaker
Q: I started potty training my 28-month-old son, but he doesn’t seem interested at all. Sometimes he’ll go on the potty, and sometimes he won’t. He’s starting to resist my efforts to put him on the toilet. I read a book that suggested I should stop potty training once I’ve started if the child wasn’t “ready.” Should I stop and if so, when should I try again?
A: More and more parents are becoming paralyzed by toilet training. Before disposable diapers became the norm, 90% of U.S. kids were successfully using the toilet on their own by age 24 months, according to a Harvard study. Nowadays, a mere 4% of children that age are potty trained.
Toilet training has nothing to do with a child’s “readiness.” You as a parent should be the one who sets the potty-training time table. John Rosemond’s excellent book Toilet Training Without Tantrums succinctly outlines how to do it, but here’s the short version he calls Naked and $75. I used this method to train all four of my children and found it to be easy to implement and it made potty training much less stressful.
Basically, you strip the child down below the waist and set up a small potty in the room you use the most. Show him the potty and tell him that he’s now expected to put his pee and poop into the potty.
Then you pump him full of liquids (water preferably) and give him a high-fiber breakfast to get things moving. Set a kitchen timer to go off every half hour or so, and tell him when it dings, that means it’s time to sit on the potty. Remind him what to do when the timer goes off, but don’t hover or sit with him or watch him. Let him attend to his “business” while you attend to yours.
Finally, expect accidents. Just like a child spills milk when learning to drink from a cup, he will pee on the floor when he’s learning to use the potty. Have him help you clean it up and don’t make a big deal out of it. By keeping calm and projecting confidence in his ability to use the toilet, he’ll soon be using the potty on his own. Yes, it really can be that easy.
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Sarah Hamaker is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™ through the Rosemond Leadership Parenting Coach Institute. She’s also a freelance writer and editor. Sarah lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children. Visit her online at www.sarahhamaker.com and follow her on Twitter @novaparentcoach.