An insider’s guide to potty training: Installment #3 — Don’t Worry About These Things
Now that you’ve decided to go for it, take these off your list of worries.
When it comes to potty training people have a lot of worries, cross these next few things off your list.
But if they are not ready and you’ve tried to put them in underwear and have had to go back to diapers, don’t worry, it’s not going to scar or confuse them.
I’ve seen this happen many times over the years. It happened with my own daughter.
A well-meaning older lady diaper-shamed me when my daughter was barely one-year-old.
She tutted the fact that I still had her in diapers and made a point of telling me she was way too old not to be potty trained. I was so embarrassed that I was not keeping up that I went out that day and bought underwear.
Unfortunately, my daughter was not ready, and after many accidents and poopy underwear explosions, I realized it was futile. I put her back in diapers.
That was my first experience in trusting my own common sense.
Sometimes you jump the gun. If that’s you, rest assured you’re in good company, lots of people do it. It’s not going to traumatize them or confuse them if you revert back to diapers until they’re ready.
What’s more harmful is forcing them into underwear and then losing your mind when they continually soil themselves. Because I guarantee, you will snap the 40th time they poop in a pair of underwear, if not way before.
Just put them back in diapers and try again when they’re really ready. The only person this regression is traumatizing is you because you thought your life was finally going to be diaper-free.
Put the dream on ice for a bit, and trust that in good time it will happen.
When you have a setback, it’s easy to feel shameful and inadequate. It’s even easier to project those feelings onto your child. You think their self-esteem will suffer, and they’ll carry the shame for life.
When you put a kid back in diapers who is not ready, this is what they are thinking…” I want a snack. I want to watch Paw Patrol. where’s my milk?” They don’t care that the underwear is gone.
The real issue is why they are back in diapers. If it’s because they are really not ready, no worries.
If it’s because they’ve mostly potty trained and have started acting out to get the diapers back for some reason, that is a discipline issue.
A power struggle between you and your child.
If they are ready, but you can’t stomach the work required on your part, that is about you, not them.
You need to do some serious meditation on the situation. You need to examine your own character. You need to buck up and take responsibility for the child you chose to make and do what needs to be done to raise them.
If your child has other delays or issues, this is probably beyond the scope of these articles.
Although I will tell you that I have potty trained children with different delays and sometimes those are the children who surprise you the most.
These are the ones that have talents hidden in some areas even though they lag in others. Don’t write any child off. Often the ones who seem the most challenged are also the most surprising.
If you backtrack, for whatever reason, don’t get too far down the self-loathing rabbit hole. Just pick yourself up and get back on that horse.
As long as they are ready and motivated, they will want to use the toilet.
My personal philosophy is that I don’t reward people for doing what is expected. I never used them with my daughter, I don’t do it with the children.
One thing I know for sure from my Montessori training is that toddlers are highly self-motivated.
The reward is in mastering the skill and the pride that comes along with it. By giving them outside prizes, you rob them of that feeling of satisfaction you can only get from a job well done.
Having said that, some people use potty treats, and some don’t, and in the long run, it probably doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t really matter, but if you decide to use them, it may set you up for a situation where your child will wilfully backtrack to blackmail you when the treats stop.
This is especially true if you use bribes in your attempts to discipline.
My philosophy has always been to keep things simple and as close to real-life experience with toddlers. Nobody gives me a treat when I take my morning constitution, so why should I teach them that that is a thing.
Again, it won’t ruin them for life if that’s your choice, but it does create the environment ripe for blackmail and an unreal expectation.
Diapers vs. pull-ups.
It doesn’t matter. A toddler can take off a diaper easier than a pull-up, but they can’t put it back on. Pull-ups are not that easy to maneuver, and your child knows that pull-ups are diapers, they don’t think of them as magic underwear unless that’s something you’ve introduced. If you can pee and poo in something, it is a diaper.
Potty dancing, being “a-big-kid-now,” and anything else you’ve been told about pull-ups is advertising. It’s just an expensive diaper that you can’t re-fasten.
If you have a lot on your plate and they can pull up their own pants, pull-ups might make more sense because that’s one less thing you have to do. If you want to save money and you don’t care if your kid takes off their diaper and you have to put it back on for them, the savings you get from diapers will make more sense.
When they’re ready for underwear, you will drop either of these like a hot stone, and do your own happy dance. When it comes to parenting, you have enough real issues to worry about, don’t make things worse by worrying about things that don’t matter.
Now you’re ready to head over to the next installment: Getting Your Act Together.