Breaking the Rules of Potty Training

For the past two weeks, we’ve been working on getting our 2 1/2 year old daughter potty trained. And guess what? We’re doing it all wrong.

At least, according to all the expert advice I’ve been reading online. They say things like “Wait until your child shows interest in using the potty” and “Don’t force things — let it happen on your child’s schedule.” We were following that advice for months, and getting nowhere. Cassie was perfectly happy to be the baby who goes in diapers, with zero aspiration to be a “big girl” who wears “big girl underwear” and gets candy treats when she goes on the potty.

One day last week, our sitter got the ball rolling. Cassie said she wanted to go on the potty (a rare sign of interest) and Karen called her bluff. She put her on the potty, and Cassie did nothing, of course. When she wanted to get off, Karen told her she had to stay until she peed. Cassie hollered dramatically (as she does about many, many things) but once Karen shut the door and left her alone, she peed in the potty.

And so it began.

We followed Karen’s suit, putting Cassie on the potty frequently at home and making her sit until she produced some “evidence” of success. She did a lot of whining, crying, wriggling and resisting, but she always delivered — eventually. Suddenly, her diaper was dry most of the day. Could it be that a little tough-love potty training was working?

Well, this past weekend, we made the trip to Target to pick out her first pairs of big-girl underpants. She chose Dora ones, and when we got home, off with the diapers, on with the panties. Yes, there have been accidents. She hasn’t quite figured out how to tell us when she has to go. But she does go on the potty. As long as we put her on it every hour or so, she’s quickly gone from diaper-dependent to dry-panty-wearing most of the day.

I still have a little nagging guilt that perhaps we should have waited longer or let Cassie dictate the schedule, as the experts say. Will she have to uncover these terrible potty memories in therapy someday? Ah, geez. Mostly, I’m just glad we got her on the path to preschool (who won’t take un-potty trained kids) and being an official “big girl.” And I’m pretty sure she’ll be just fine.

5 thoughts on “Breaking the Rules of Potty Training

  1. She’ll be FINE!

    I’ve been sooooooooo lazy about potty training. Since about 18 months O has been going pretty consistently at daycare, but home is a different story. Sometimes he tells me and we go, sometimes he goes in his diaper. I think it has something to do with him being able to pee standing up a lot easier at daycare, and not so easily at home. I haven’t QUITE figured out the whole “how to teach a boy to pee standing up” thing yet.

    Eh, we all parent differently. Different strokes for different folks and all that jazz. Do what works for you and forget about the rest! And congrats to Cassie and her underwear-wearing self!

  2. You’re doing just fine. And you’re going to have setbacks anyway – that’s just part of parenting. For the past week, our 4-year-old has been having accidents left and right. What works best is telling her that I’ll take away one of her favorite toys if she pees herself. I feel confident doing that because she’s old enough to know better and old enough to take herself to the bathroom when she has to go, but often she decides to try and hold it, or denies she has to go, simply to be stubborn.


  3. Amy in Ohio says:

    I dream of diaper-free days…

  4. Robyn - Who's the Boss? says:

    I still think that we potty-trained my son all wrong. But you know what? He learned and he’s not scarred from it. So I’m not gonna feel guitly about it.

    Yes, we started at the “too soon” “too young” “no signs of readiness” stage.

  5. Angie and Brian says:

    Tela – we are in the exact same place! D was sooo excited about the potty when they started at daycare, but now that the newness has worn off he is the same as your O – sometimes in the potty sometimes the diaper!

    But way to go Cassie – and here’s to hope for the rest of us 🙂

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