Every week on Friday I feature a post from a fellow mom sharing her story about motherhood. This week I have Nancy from All Natural Mothering discussing late potty training. She shares the benefits, the challenges, and must-have survival tips for stay-at-home moms.
Throughout the four years of being a mother, I have been asked numerous questions about my parenting methods.
Are you still breastfeeding? Come on, Give that baby some real food!
Are you sleeping next to your baby? You are going to kill that child!
You don’t have to pick up or hug your baby, every time she cries. You are going to spoil that kid.
But, the best of all is…wait for it.
Is your son still in diapers? My son was potty trained a day before he turned two.
Well… Congrats… I guess…
Seriously, how does where my son does his business become anyone else’s concern?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the kind of person who hates being advised. What drives me crazy is when a stranger, who has no clue about my son or his personality, but has the nerve to mock my parenting skills.
They said I should bribe him, reward him with candies and trick him to sit on the potty. They said I should be firm and not give in. They made me question my motherly instincts.
You know the worst part? I started believing them.
They had me feeling that they were right. And, there is something wrong with me and my child.
Soon I felt pity for my son when I saw that he was the only one wearing a diaper when the rest of the kids would take themselves to the potty.
And just like that, I found myself comparing my son to other kids of his age.
How am I going to take him to Sunday school?
How is he ever going to get into Preschool?
A small whisper soon became a thundering voice that kept me awake all night. I kept asking myself, ‘ Why is my son not potty trained? What is wrong with him?
At that moment I knew I was heading towards the wrong direction. I instantly woke up and said that’s it. I am done feeling sorry for myself or my son. There is nothing wrong with my child. He is perfect. He is smart. He is intelligent. And He is only 3.5!
I know my son will get there. One day he will. Many have asked me why I don’t try rewards or bribe him to potty train. The answer is simple. It just doesn’t seem natural to me.
Have you tried putting a toddler to sleep who is not tired? It just doesn’t work! They will jump up and down, pick your nose, lick your face but will not take a nap.
It didn’t seem necessary for me to try and push him into something when he clearly is not ready for it. I wanted to respect his body, his timelines; when he is physically and mentally prepared to potty train.
That doesn’t mean I don’t try.
Every time my son poops his pants, I gently tell him that he needs to use the potty.
I have a timer and every 2 hours I remind him to use the potty for pee pee. Sometimes it works, sometimes he fights.
I let him go naked to make him aware of his elimination needs. I also learn his physical cues that makes it easier for me to take him to the potty.
We read books on potty training and watch ‘I want to use the potty’ rhyme.
I call it the child-led potty training approach. Where there are no stickers or M&M’s to entice a child to use the toilet. Instead, I teach my son his bodily functions, learn his body’s elimination signals, encourage him to use the potty and accept that there are going to be accidents.
If you are interested in this gentle approach of child-led potty training, this post on how to practice diaper-free time for potty training can help.
But do keep in mind that there is no magic trick to potty train a child. It takes time and a lot of patience.
And if you have tried every single trick on the book and your child still doesn’t show any improvement. Please don’t feel defeated. I want to encourage you by saying that you are not alone. I have been there, and I know how it feels.
5 Things To Remember When Late Potty Training
When doubt starts to creep in, I want you to remember these four things that helped me change my perspective.
1. Every Child Is Different
Your neighbor’s child might have been out of diapers at the age of two. All of your other children might have shown potty readiness at an early age. But that doesn’t set a timeline of when a child should potty train. Just like every other development, each child is different, and they take their own sweet time. Our job as a parent is not to force our children but to embrace them, give them space and freedom to learn at their own pace.
2. It’s Not Going To Be Forever
They are little only once and for a short period. They are not going to come running to you all the time. They are not going to jump into your bed forever. You will not spend your life changing diapers and wiping butts. Soon they will grow up, become independent and you will wish they stopped growing up so fast.
3. Be Kind To Yourself
You are not an inefficient mom because you failed to potty train your child. Don’t feel ashamed or fall into the ‘pity’ trap. Remember that no one can be a “perfect” mom, all the time. We all love our children, we only want the best for them, and we try our best. It’s just that we do things differently and that’s ok.
4. Be Extra Loving to Your Kids
Kids are smart, and they can tell when you are stressed and unhappy. They quickly catch on to our feelings and reciprocate it. It is not going to do you any good when your child starts feeling stressed about potty training. Instead, make it a fun experience. Sing songs, dance with them, sing praises when they do use the potty. But, when accidents happen, be a sport and encourage them to try better.
5. Trust Yourself
Most importantly, trust your motherly instincts. No one knows and understands your child better than you. You are the one who carried them for nine months. You are the one who sustained them and nourished them. You are the one who brought them to this world safe and sound.You know them better than the stranger you met at the grocery aisle.
Potty training can be a heartache, especially when dealing with a child who shows no interest in it. Just keep teaching them how it’s done and patiently wait until they are ready.
Hang in there, Mama! It’s not going to be forever.
Nancy is a mom blogger at All Natural Mothering. She loves to share natural parenting tips and researched backed resources on her blog. Her goal is to help parents make the best natural choices for their baby. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest for more.