Welcome to our Beanstalk series: "Is This Normal?" Designed to answer your questions about child behavior and remind parents that the only thing truly "normal" about parenthood or kids is that we're all in it together. Send your burning questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions will be kept anonymous.
Three kids 17 months apart meant the potty training phase in our house came with a ton of questions and a lot of cleaning supplies. My son basically trained himself, and I expected smooth sailing with my daughters, but just like their little personalities, each one was so different. So, what do you do when your little one isn't ready or willing to try the potty? Keep reading to find out what the expert has to say (and how I tackled it too).
Allison Jandu, Owner and Founder of Potty Training Consultant, admits, "Some (kids) are perfectly happy staying in diapers," and the perfect time to start training isn't always easy to figure out. She adds that not all kids show signs of readiness or interest, and they "may require a little extra nudge from their caregiver."
When my oldest daughter didn't seem interested, I decided to wait another month before we tried again. The second time around, she did better right away. But, both tries required encouragement on my part. She was content to wear training pants as long as I'd let her. Jandu confirmed, "Our kids look to us for guidance," so we shouldn't worry when we have to provide the motivation.
Sometimes with potty training, kiddos don't always move forward from day one. Jandu mentioned, "it helps to do some preparatory activities with them before starting the process," which will help your little one prepare. We read some books together and created a fun sticker reward chart to track their progress. At the end of a successful week, we picked a reward card to celebrate together.
When potty training started working at home, we ventured out together, short trips at first, then longer playdates after a week or so. Two surprises popped up when we took training on the road. My oldest daughter couldn't go independently without a potty seat, and my youngest daughter was frightened by the loud potties that flushed on their own. We took each new experience one solution at a time, and Jandu reassured, "It can be a very positive and rewarding experience."
We faced a big surprise when my fully potty trained son regressed completely back into diapers. Our family had a significant life change, and he decided to "resort back to a time in life when he felt more safe and secure," Jandu shared. I didn't know if I should start all over again, but Jandu stated that when faced with a regression, it is important to "stay consistent" and "offer some extra one-on-one attention each day." Thankfully, he was back on track pretty quickly.
Our potty training motto was, "accidents happen to everyone," and I did my best to stay calm and positive when training didn't go well. As confusing and new as everything was for my kids, it was all new to me too. I tried to make it all fun and rewarding, so my kids looked forward to the next day of trying to learn a new thing.
If you are just getting started or trying again, keep Jandu's final thought in mind, "parents shouldn't feel guilty about initiating potty training!" Take it one day at a time, and remember every child is very different. No one's training journey will look the same, and that's OK. It's normal to wonder if you are doing it right. Try to make it fun, and celebrate the wins together.
Angelica Kajiwara loves hiking, RV travel and delicious food, and she enjoys all of that with three little ones in tow. It’s never boring, that’s for sure. Visit her at: toddlinacrossamerica.com.
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