An insider’s guide to potty training: Installment #1- Potty Training Personality Types
In this series of articles, I’m going to share eight years of experience and tell you everything you need to know.
One issue that rears it’s head continually with parents of toddlers is anxiety around potty training.
Everybody worries about it.
Everyone is worried their child will be last and will go to kindergarten in diapers. Everybody wants to be first, it’s a prestige issue, one for bragging rights. There is a lot of parenting self-worth thrown into this basket.
It’s the one issue that comes up for nearly everyone and what I get asked about the most.
So, I’ve decided to take you on a potty training journey. We’ll start with some groundwork and make our way up to strategy.
Let’s start with the potty training types I’ve observed.
There are many different personalities when it comes to potty training, they are all different, but I have potty trained them all.
Here are a few examples, see if you can find your child in this list:
Early Adopter: This child wants to grow up fast, they watch what everyone else is doing and want to try it all. They like their independence and want to be “big.” They are self-motivated and eager, they may not train any earlier than average, but once they commit, they will switch over fast.
Lazy Susan: This kid likes being served and can’t be bothered (my daughter was this) why fix what ain’t broke. They like having a personal assistant who takes care of business. Life is good for them, and they’re not motivated to change it.
Mean Mary: This one uses their body functions as a weapon. This kid will pee on the floor if it gets them what they want. They will pee in their underwear even though they can control their functions. If they want to go back to diapers, they will employ any measures necessary to get you to back down. They like to see you squirm and like it even better if they can rattle you. They know it’s wrong; they don’t care if it gets them the upper hand.
The Dark Horse: This is the kid you think will never potty train. They seem a little behind the others for whatever reason, and you think you will have to leave it to the last minute with them because why bother, and then one day they surprise you. You turn around, and suddenly they are putting themselves on the toilet and wondering why you are so stunned. This kid sometimes has other delays, so you assume they can’t do anything that the other kids can do. Usually, this kid has to try a thousand times harder than everyone else just to keep up but sometimes they have an ace up their sleeve.
The over/underachiever: This child seems to be ahead of the curve on everything else. You assume they will train like a champ, why wouldn’t they? They’re gifted, articulate and miles ahead with nearly everything else. You get out the potty and pop them straight into underwear at the ripe old age of one. Then after countless pairs of poopy drawers, you give up and go down the rabbit hole of parental self-loathing and failure.
The replica: Your first child was dry day and night at 14 months, how hard can it be with the second? Here’s a tip, no child is a copy of the last. Just because you had tremendous success with one doesn’t guarantee Jack for the next. Keep an open mind, assume nothing. Don’t feel like a failure just because you can’t recreate your past glory.
The Passive Patty: This child has everything done for them. You put their shoes on them because they’re not fast enough. You choose their clothes and dress them, you feed them, you make sure everything is perfect, and if they try to do something themselves, you take over because they won’t do it right. By the time they are old enough to potty train, they know they can’t do anything right, so why even bother? They haven’t had the opportunity to master putting on their pants or taking them off for that matter, so they don’t even try anymore. They also know the best way to get your attention is to pretend they can’t do something, even if they can.
The grudge holder. This child can potty train but doesn’t want to. They don’t mind going on the toilet, provided they get to keep their pull-up. They don’t like change, they don’t like their world rocked. As long as they can pretend everything is the same, they’ll grudgingly go when you ask them to or if they’re really in the mood.
The superstar. This kid is so ready. They wake up one day and decide it’s time and just do it. They go from diapers to dry day and night in the span of a few days, you spend the next few years humble-bragging that they just did it themselves and you had nothing to do with it. This kid makes you feel like a rock star, but beware that is no guarantee that your next kid will be the same.
Each of these kids is a little different. I could break it down and give you a different strategy for each personality type, but in my work, I don’t have time to pander to anyone. I have one system for all of them, and it works every time for everybody.
If you have a child that doesn’t fit on this list, write it in the comments. I may have missed one or two.