With my first, I learned that proper hydration encourages
them to use the toilet, so I allowed unlimited access to apple juice (his
favorite). Genius! Unfortunately, unlimited access to apple juice also causes
diarrhea, and an introduction to the potty that involves diarrhea is a great
way to ensure your child won't want to go near another bathroom for several
I didn't make that mistake with my second child, though! I
gently encouraged her with positive reinforcement (that's parenting code for
bribery). As soon as she was successful, I trotted her directly to the store
amid much fanfare to purchase the princess big-girl underwear I had promised — where she promptly peed all over the floor and was too traumatized to talk
about underwear again for several months.
You can forget about learning much from doctors or books or friends or even your own past experience. Because every single child is different.
My third child, miraculously, took an interest in potty
training all on her own! However, she developed a fascination with toilet
paper, using almost an entire roll every time she goes. Once she gets in there,
sometimes it seems like she won't leave the bathroom for several months.
What I'm saying is, you can forget about learning much
from doctors or books or friends or even your own past experience. Because every
single child is different.
Really, the only constant you'll reliably encounter across
pretty much every family's attempt to ditch the diapers doesn't have anything
to do with kids — it's the phases the parents go through. Allow me to
outline the seven stages of the typical potty training process, from the
1. Shock and Denial: What? My BABY is old enough for potty
training? AND I'M THE ONE WHO HAS TO TRAIN HER?
2. Pain and Guilt: This is impossible. Why isn't it working???
I've waited too long. Or maybe I started too early. I've been too free and loose
with the mini M&Ms and now I just have a diaper-wearing chocolate addict.
3. Anger: I've been sitting on the edge of the tub reading
"Everyone Poops" to you for THREE HOURS. JUST GOOOOOOOO.
4. Bargaining: I will give you every M&M on planet
Earth if you just please, PLEASE use the potty. Seriously. I'll buy you 37
kittens and let you name them all M&M. Whatever you want.
5. Depression: If one more person tells me, "Don't worry,
it's not like she'll go off to college wearing diapers or anything," I'm
going to eat this entire bag of M&Ms myself while sobbing quietly into the
6. Reflection: Remember back when we could leave the
house, because we didn't have to constantly be within a two-foot radius of our
toilet? Those were good times.
7. Acceptance: It's okay. We never really go any place but
Grandma's anyway, and I've always hated our carpet.
If you're a parent in the trenches of training it sounds
rough, but it's not all that bad — you only go through these phases once! Well,
once every 10 minutes or so. For several weeks. But just stick with it and
remember, it's not like your kid will go off to college wearing diapers or