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My kids potty trained themselves. It was simple.
Before I explain, here’s some history of where the current ideas of toilet training toddlers came from.
Dr. Benjamin Spock (no, not Mr. Spock) in the 1940s wrote “Baby and Child Care.” His ideas included taking the child to the toilet at set times all day until the kid had an accident on the potty. The parent rewarded the child with candy or a cheap toy and kept training, slowly stopping the reward. Spock’s starting age was when the toddler was a year and a half. That’s how my mother trained me.
By the 1970s some people still used Spock. Other information was to wait until the child was mature enough which was when your child started giving people his toys. So the experts said.
The reward idea had stood the test of time. Having a child’s potty chair in the bathroom from the time the child was about a year was another idea. For a complete list of potty training products you can go to http://www.pottytrainingconcepts.com/
Other than cloth and paper diapers, there were no disposable pull-ups or night wetting disposables. There just were extra thick training pants and regular pants with cartoon and superhero characters on them. These were the goal.
I gave birth to my son in 1977. When he was a year old I put the potty chair in the bathroom and he saw his parents using our big one. Sometimes he sat on his, lid up, lid down, in his diapers or for a second or two before the bath without a diaper.
When he was two, I began seriously potty training him. I bought him a book. It’s not around any more, but here are two from Amazon.com you might consider: A Potty for Me!: A Lift-the-Flap Instruction Manual by Karen Katz (Hardcover – Dec. 28, 2004) and Where’s the Poop? by Julie Markes and Susan Kathleen Hartung (Hardcover – Mar. 30, 2004).
The reward system almost broke the bank. For two weeks I rewarded him with small plastic animals, dinosaurs, and the occasional M&M, all of growing more expensive each day. Then I started to gradually cut back. The first time my son didn’t get his goody, he reverted. No reward, no behavior. I knew he knew what to do. He was just too clever.
As proof of my lack of brains I tried the same stupid tactic again.
On a shopping expedition we discovered thickly padded Big Boy pants. I bought a pair. At home I showed my son the pants, told him what they were for and told him that when he was ready to be a Big Boy, come let me know. Then I put them on the refrigerator.
One day he came to me and told me he wanted his Big Boy pants. I gave them to him. After that, he had one bowel movement accident. I took him out to the backyard spigot, told him I was through cleaning poop and from then on he had to clean his Big Boy pants himself. That was his only accident.
He was 3 years old when he potty trained himself.
I gave birth to a daughter seven years later. I refused to do rewards. I realized that kids want to act like adults and would when they were ready. From the time she was a year old the little potty was in the bathroom. When she was almost 1 1/2, we bought some Big Girl pants. She didn’t want the thick padded ones. She wanted the ones with cartoon characters. I got them and put them on top of the refrigerator waiting for the day she was ready to be a Big Girl. One day she said she wanted them.
She also had only one accident, so we went into the back yard to the garden spigot. She cleaned her pants and that was her only accident. She was 1 1/2.
“What did you do?” asked our Mother’s Day Out teacher, my mother’s age. “Nothing,” I said smiling.
There is lots of information on toilet training out there, self-help books, articles, videos on line, store bought books, or you can do nothing.