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The Lazy Mom's Guide to Potty Training

Photograph by Twenty20

In an increasingly competitive world, there's one area our family lagged way behind on. While some parents are practicing "elimination communication," we instead chose the "wait until they're almost in kindergarten" technique of potty training.

Long after their best buddies were showing off their new unbulky, diaper-free silhouettes, my kids were still relieving themselves into their Pull-Ups. Both were nearly 4 by the time they potty trained. With our son, we worried that it was taking so long—but when our daughter followed the same slow, winding path to Underwear Town, we relaxed, knowing it would happen ... eventually.

If, like us, you'd like to wait as long as possible to stop spending your hard-earned cash on diapers, try the following tips:

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1. Use no rewards

While we heartily applauded and encouraged each and every toilet tinkle and held out the promise of shiny new underwear like a beacon, we never used candy or stickers as a reward.

2. Let them crap their pants with abandon

For months, I could predict exactly when my daughter was doing her business because it was the only time during the day when she wasn't trying to get me to play My Little Pony with her. Suddenly, she'd wander off to another room.

"Do you want to sit on the potty?" I'd ask her.

"I don't want to talk about it," she'd reply in between gentle grunts.

We let her continue to roam off and desecrate her Pull-Ups, until one magical day when she announced, "Daddy, I need to poop!" and headed toward the bathroom.

I'd always figured that by the time a kid could say, "I don't want to talk about it," they'd be capable of unleashing their bowels on a toilet. But despite my growing disdain for cleaning her big girl poops up, it was clear that she wasn't having it. So we let her continue to roam off and desecrate her Pull-Ups, until one magical day when she announced, "Daddy, I need to poop!" and headed toward the bathroom instead of the playroom corner where she usually conducted her "work."

3. Rely on peer pressure

Both of my kids were peeing on the toilet erratically until they moved up to the preschool room at daycare. Away from the young toddlers, they were suddenly surrounded by kids wearing fancy, licensed character emblazoned underwear, and peeing and crapping on the toilet like pros. My kids quickly followed suit, proving that peer pressure works wonders even amongst the under 5 crowd.

4. Let their teachers lead the way

Don't forget the spellbinding powers of a preschool teacher. They can, after all, get your child to nap on small, stiff mats, in a room sardine-packed with other children. Preschool teachers are enchanted, rare creatures who spend their days herding hoards of goopy toddlers … by choice. Their powers of soft-spoken coercion can work potty training wonders on even the most stubborn child. When our kids' teachers told us our kids were ready finally for underwear, we listened.

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The good news about waiting so long to potty train is that once our kids were ready, they were really ready. It was low-stress and low mess. Like most other milestones, it'll happen for your kids too, and probably before they head off to college.

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