by Caprice Corona
Toddlerhood is time for potty training! And whether or not you’ve wanted to, you’ve probably gotten quite a bit of advice about the topic from other parents…and maybe your own parents…and your pediatrician…and your colleagues, friends, neighbors, childcare provider, landlord, mail delivery person, the bus driver…
“Don’t make it big production – your baby will let you know when he’s ready.”
“Start early! The longer you wait, the harder it will be.”
“Don’t start too early! You baby might not be ready for the pressure.”
“The only thing that worked for us was a sticker chart.”
“My kid will sit on the potty any time now, because she knows she’ll get an M&M”
“My neighbor’s son was still wearing pull-ups when he was 4 years old. It wasn’t until he started preschool that he started to get the hang of it.”
“Boys are so much harder to potty train than girls.”
“Girls are so much harder to potty train than boys.”
You get my drift. Opinions and experiences with potty training are, like most things child-rearing and parenting-related, incredibly varied and vast. There is certainly no “one” right method: but the difference between a rewards-based potty training approach and a gentle, non-coercive one can mean keeping the integrity of the relationship with your child – and more of your sanity! – intact.
What is Gentle Potty Training?
Gentle, non-coercive potty training is free from force. It honors both the child and the caregiver. Instead of relying on external rewards (sticker charts, M&Ms) or reprimands, we learn about our babies and help them develop the ability to do all the pieces of independent pottying on their own. It isn’t necessary to bribe or cajole your child into using the potty; in fact, you can simply decide to be done with diapers — gently, firmly, consistently, and free from force or pressure!
When is the best time to start?
Well, the best thing to do is to take the handy-dandy readiness quiz I’ve prepared for you. Ready?
1. Just kidding. There is no “readiness” quiz…because your baby is ready! True story. If your child is 18+ months old, s/he is ready to use the potty. (And if your baby is younger than 18 months and you, the caregiver, feel ready to potty train, well…good news! Your child is ready too – check out my earlier blog post about Elimination Communication).
In all seriousness, there is no scientific basis for a child’s “readiness” to potty train. The myth of readiness was a concept created by diaper companies in 1962 (coincidentally, the year disposable diapers were invented!) and promoted by T. Berry Brazelton (coincidentally, the head of the Pampers Institute!). What is important to understand is that your child is capable now – how else could 50% of the children in the world be toilet trained by 1 year of age? (Source: Contemporary Pediatrics, 2004 as cited in The Tiny Potty Training Book by Andrea Olson).
Join me in class to find out how to start (or restart!) and complete the journey with your toddler – gently, steadily, firmly, and above all, with love and respect.