Every child's journey toward potty training success is different, and every family has its share of stories, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Here, some
heartwarming tales from the potty training trenches.
Here, Kitty, Kitty...
My daughter has loved pretending to be a cat since she was 2 1/2. After she watched a friend's kitty use its litter box, she decided she — being
a cat herself — would be purrfectly happy to use her own "glitter box" (i.e., her potty). We went right along with it, of course — anything to get her
interested! We made a little poster with a drawing of a girl on the toilet and taped it to the bathroom door. When she used her "glitter box" successfully,
we gave her cat stickers, one for the poster and one for her shirt. From start to finish, it took her about three months to completely get the hang of
things — not too bad!
The Poonis Incident
My son Andrew was about 2 1/2 when we started teaching him what the toilet was for. He wasn't quite ready, though; he claimed to have no idea how his pants
got wet or dirty. I tried explaining. "Pee-pee comes from your penis," I told him, thinking that might make the connection clearer. But a few hours later,
he had an accident of the other sort, and when I asked him where the poo-poo came from, he just shrugged. Then I saw that his overalls were soaking wet,
too. "Did you pee, too?" I asked. "I don't know," he said gravely. "Pee-pee came out of my penis, and then poo-poo came out of my poonis—that's all I
know." I could barely keep a straight face! Happily, it all clicked about six months later, when he started trying to use his little potty every time. We'd
set it in different rooms around the house; soon it became part of the furniture, and he could sit on it when he needed to and still feel like he was part
of the family. Once he was ready for the big toilet, we got him a special potty ring with animals on it. He loved it because no one else got to use it. It
was just for him — and his poonis!
My daughter Madeleine was almost 3 — and just getting started on her potty training — when her baby sister Peyton was born. As predicted by my fellow moms,
as soon as Peyton arrived, Madeleine decided diapers were best. I got a little frustrated after a while, but my mother reminded me that she had never seen
a first-grader in diapers, so I decided I would let my daughter be my guide. But no matter what I did or didn't do, she resisted even trying the potty.
Then, at her 3-year checkup, her pediatrician asked how she was doing with toilet training. I said she'd been sticking with diapers. The doctor got down on
her knees, looked Madeleine in the eyes, and gently said, "You're 3 now; I know you can do it. Next time you come see me, if you're wearing panties, I'll
have a special treat for you!" That's all it took. When we got home, Madeleine ran to her dresser, grabbed a pair of panties, and boldly told me, "Mom, I'm
3 now. I don't wear diapers." And that was it. No more diapers, no more accidents. I think in our case inspiration needed to come from someone other than
Mommy; my daughter was physically ready and just needed another little bit of encouragement.
Take a Chill Pill
What I realized when I started introducing my son to the idea of toilet training was that encouragement is important, but you have to know when to take a break if what you're doing isn't working. My son seemed ready at 2 1/2 — he
was reading the stories, watching his daddy in the bathroom, and even sitting on his potty about half the time, with occasional success. But it was fall and getting colder, and all the clothes he had to wear made it more difficult
for him to get to the potty in time and use it by himself. We got frustrated. He got frustrated. So we took a deep breath and decided to put the potty away
for a while. We didn't bring it up, and neither did he. About four or five months later, when the weather was getting warmer, we put the potty back out
and got out his spring clothes. Voila! — it worked. Having fewer snaps to undo and less clothing to mess with was all my son needed to succeed.