Personal Posts Potty Training

Slacker Mom, or Genius? My Potty Training “Method”

By nature, I’m a planner, and I have a hard time with things that are out of my control (though I think I am getting much better about this as I get older.) In fact, I had a moment of panic while still pregnant with my first child, about potty training! So, it’s really funny that I ended up being the way I am, when it comes to potty training!

As I said in the Mailbox Mondays post this week, my approach is different than most. When I got into the cloth diapering “world,” I started hearing the term “potty learning” instead of “potty training.” I sorta scrunched up my face because the term sounded a little hokey to someone who had never heard it before, but that’s really what I have done.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have my daughter’s baby book beside me, I don’t remember all the dates, ha ha. When my daughter was about 16 months old, she started to show some interest in other people using the bathroom, was a little more cooperative during diaper changes, and other little things that made me think she might be ready for a little potty action. We bought her a little potty, and just made it available to her, in the family room, where she usually played. She sat on it, looked at it and occasionally (accidentally mostly) pottied in it. By 22 months, she was using the potty seat on the big potty. Somewhere in this time period, taking diapers on and off became a pain, and we started using pull ups (she was disposable diapered, boo.) In my opinion, they were no different than diapers, and did nothing to help with potty training, except that they were easy to pull up and down!

Over the next several months, we suffered through round after round of the Potty Time Elmo DVD, The Potty Elmo and Potty Book for Girls Book, and she seemed to gain more and more awareness and was using the potty more, and diapers less. I let her lead the way, occasionally reminding her if she looked like she needed to go. As she became more consistent, I made her a chart, and allowed her to put a stamp for every #1 and a sticker for #2. She loved that! Pretty soon, I took her to pick out big girl undies, and she wore them any time we were downstairs (on the hardwood floors), though she was still wearing pull ups at night or for car rides.

When she was 2 1/2, we hit the milestone of wearing panties all day, including a trip out to the store, and using a public potty. Impressive? Well, no. But she did it on her own, and there was no anger, frustration or tears. Could I have “trained” her sooner? Maybe, but why? Her personality is such that if I had pushed her, it would most likely have taken even longer, with me pushing and her pushing back. She has never regressed and never had accidents (except the two times when she was still wearing a pull up for car rides & night time & Daddy forgot to put one on her!)

I’d heard that potty training boys was “so much harder,” so I really didn’t expect my son to show any readiness until closer to 2 1/2 (or later.) In fact, I expected that my slacker mom/non-potty training approach wouldn’t work. When he was about 18 months old, my husband grabbed the little potty while he was up in the attic for something else. He (my son, not my hubby) started sitting on it (fully clothed, LOL!) and eventually did want to sit on it a good bit, though it was usually just an excuse to get nekkid and run around! At 22 months he was wanting to take all of his clothes off and sit on the big potty before bed, but he hadn’t actually “done anything.”

When he had his 2-year checkup the pediatrician asked about potty training and I just said that he didn’t really have any interest. The doctor was neither concerned, nor surprised, and said it may be closer to three for boys. Well, just like his verbal skills exploded right around his birthday, so did his pottyin’ skillz. (I think he likes to prove me wrong?) At 25 months old, he said “POTTY,” took his diaper off, sat down and peed! The look on his face when he saw how surprised and excited his sister and I were was totally priceless!

I figured it was a random incident, but he has continued to do that a couple times a day. In fact, the next day, he did the same thing, but pooped! He’s not super consistent, but I think he’s doing awesome for his age (26 months now) and he is definitely gaining awareness. Though he usually refused diaper changes and fought me, he will lay right down and say “dah-purr change” when he needs it. Usually when he poops on the potty, he has already “started” in his diaper, but again, I think he is doing awesome for 26 months old and (gasp) a boy!

I really don’t think he’s ready for underwear, charts or other “encouragement” right now, but I’m pretty darn proud of him. As long as he’s able to wear undies during the day by the time he’s 3 and 3 or so months, he’ll be able to go to preschool.

It’s totally out of my character, but I figure I am not going to have to change his diaper at his prom; he will figure it out eventually! I’m just letting him lead, and helping him along the way.

At the same time, I feel like a total slacker when I hear about all the stuff people are doing to potty train, or how their kid was potty trained at 18 months, or how they did it in a weekend etc. etc.

What do you think, am I lazy, or smart?


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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
16 Comments
  • February 4, 2013 at 9:01 am
    Reply

    […] method of potty training is really just to follow the child’s cues. Sometimes the first clues are not wanting to be wet/dirty, “asking” you to change them […]

  • Melanie
    June 6, 2012 at 11:19 am
    Reply

    My little one is just four months old, but we’ve been doing elimination communication for about a month. The idea is (backed up by what I’m reading here) that animals don’t like sitting in their own waste, and babies aren’t born liking it either. We train them to tolerate it for around two years, and then have to train them *not* to; it doesn’t make sense! Although this isn’t a method meant to speed-track toilet training or coerce your kids, EC has already made her more aware of what she’s doing. I know when she’s likely to need to go, and potty her for a few minutes. If she goes, great, and if she doesn’t, that’s fine. But I’ve noticed that she’s deliberately going in response to this regular potty time (for us, immediately after feed/burp, and again about 1.5 hours later, a little before her nap). She’s also more likely to poo “freely” on the pot because it doesn’t stick to her. She pooped four times yesterday, and of that just one was in a diaper. I have no idea when she’ll formally toilet train, but I’m glad she’s used to having a potty chair and a seat on the big potty- these will already be natural parts of her routine when she’s ready.

    • June 6, 2012 at 11:28 am
      Reply

      I’ve read a lot about EC and if my lifestyle allowed it, I would definitely do it! It’s tough with 3 kids & working at home to give it the attention it deserves!

  • June 6, 2012 at 10:05 am
    Reply

    […] Personal Posts,Potty Training TweetLast year, I posted about my slacker mom method of potty training that worked so well for my first child. By March of this year, I was starting to […]

  • March 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm
    Reply

    […] on disposables isn’t a factor in my desire to potty train my almost 3 year old son. So my potty training “method” didn’t lead to quick training like it did with my daughter, but I still stand by […]

  • August 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm
    Reply

    I love that idea! That’s kind of the approach I have with my kids. However, I did add in a little bribing…hehehe

    • August 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm
      Reply

      Hee-hee. Nothing wrong with bribing…err…encouraging. 😉

  • Anahita
    August 18, 2011 at 11:39 am
    Reply

    I have 2 boys, the older one is almost 3 yrs old (in 2 months). My other one just turned one. So the older one was doing great, he has been using the potty for peeing almost every morning and every night, since he was 14-15 months old, obviously getting better with time. When he was 20 months old, we were doing great with potty training and he would go a few times a day, I was so happy. But I was 8 months pregnant and I couldn’t keep it up. So after my baby was born, my older son regressed and decided he didn’t want to use the potty anymore (the worst part is that he was almost ready!). oh well. so we went back to diapers and I have tried to train him again, he refuses most of the time. He is almost 3 now, and in the mornings when he wakes up, I tell him he has to pee in the potty first before he gets his morning milk and at night, before shower (or in the shower, which is easier to clean up) he pees. #2 is another issue he hates spending time on the potty for that. His preschool will train him and together with their help, I hope he will be out of diapers in the next 3-4 months. I feel bad that I am not training him intensively, as some of my other friends did with their kids (girls seem to cooperate and learn faster than boys) but I just don’t have the energy to do a weekend intense potty training (I work full time and mom to 2 energetic little boys!). As for the baby, I have started sitting him on the potty, but of course he doesn’t pee. He loves to sit on it and then he will pick up the potty and play with it. So am right there with you Maria, I wanted to train him in a week, but now it seems that he will get potty trained when he is ready, and again, am sure he will not be wearing diapers by the time he goes to college!!! he will give it up sooner or later (just like the fact that he still likes to dink his milk from a bottle – yes I know, almost 3, and still the bottle!) But why fight it, it won’t be like this forever 🙂

  • August 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm
    Reply

    YES! I’m glad there are others out there! Although my son is 2 1/2 now and I haven’t even purchased the potty seat yet because I think I’m too lazy to even try. I keep thinking about it, but I really think he has no interest. I really see no reason to push the issue – everyone uses the potty eventually! He is just now starting to talk about “poo” and “potty” so I think it may finally be time. Thanks for the encouraging post! =)

    • August 18, 2011 at 9:54 am
      Reply

      Sounds like he might be ready for you to buy that potty seat! 🙂

  • Katie
    August 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm
    Reply

    Oh man, that sounds much better than the way we did it. Sure, it may take longer your way compared to those that supposedly potty train in a weekend, but your way is so much less stressful for the child! We went from diapers to underwear cold turkey and it worked for us (it still took about 2 months to fell “done”!) but it was frustrating for all of us! My son is very stubborn and strong-willed and we had some power battles where he’d sit on the potty and refuse to go (when we KNEW he needed to go!). And he refused to poop on the potty. He’d hold it and wait until he had his diaper on for bedtime, or just poop in his underwear long after he was a pro at going pee in the potty. Anyway, like I said, I think your way is much less stressful and traumatic for the child! But, I’d have a hard time letting my child lead… I’d worry that if I don’t push a little then the opportunity would pass us by? I’m an opportunist I guess and when my child would show a little interest I’d be hard pressed not to spring on it!

    • August 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm
      Reply

      You’re right though. When they show interest, encourage it! But let them lead. That’s my theory anyway! 😀

  • Kelly
    August 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm
    Reply

    I say Genius! I didn’t “TRAIN” either of my kids to potty, they pretty much did it on their own, and both of them (a boy and a girl) pretty soon after their 2nd birthdays. seriously, even i still cannot believe how easy it was. w/ my son, i randomly decided to get a potty one day at the store and just see how he did on a totaly whim, and he did so well that we just stopped wearing diapers around the house, and within about a week, we stopped wearing diapers when we left the house. he still wore diapers for naps and bed (and actually still does for night time and he just turned 4). I thought my daughter would be a different ball game b/c she is very strong willed. but she wont pee on the floor, so i stopped putting diapers on her when we were at home and from that moment on, she was pretty much trained. she amazed me (this was just last month!) she even stays dry for most of her naps, but wears a diaper for bed. My big secret is to let your kids run around NAKED even when they are really little b/c it helps them gain awareness of whats going on. Yes, you may have some accidents, but it’s no big deal.

    • August 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm
      Reply

      My son LOVES being naked, so it works well for us to do that too! Definitely makes him more aware!

  • August 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    Reply

    That’s exactly how I trained my boys. I tell everyone, do not push your child to potty train. It will backfire! I thought my oldest should have been ready at 2 but he wasn’t. Being a first time mom I had no clue so I did push him. I quickly figured out that wasn’t working so we dropped it and went back to pull ups full time. Within a matter of 3 months after I put away the thought he decided he was ready! SO with my 2nd boy I just let him lead. Although when he hit 2 we did start TALKING about pottying on the potty and on his 2nd birthday he actually decided he didn’t want diapers any more, took his diapers threw them in the garbage and he has been potty trained since!! I hope my daughter is the same LOL! I have heard babies in cloth potty train quicker and easier, we shall see.

    • August 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm
      Reply

      My son definitely seems more aware/diapers are more dry when he’s wearing something that’s not stay dry!

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