Updated: Mar 15, 2018
In reading this post, you may feel mixed emotions. It’s my hope that I can raise some points you haven’t previously heard or considered. But please keep in mind, I want to help YOU, parents, take back the power over potty training.
Let’s start with a little history. Potty training has changed a lot in recent years, so I think it’s helpful to look at where we’ve been so we can really see where we’re going.
In the 1940s and 50s, the average age of the potty trained child was 18-months. Seems young, right? But think about it – there were no disposable diapers back then, or washing machines, so each dirty diaper had to be washed by hand. No thanks. I would be potty training as soon as possible too.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that disposable diapers became cheap enough for the average family to afford. It was also around this same time that the American Academy of Pediatrics began the notion of child-directed potty training. That’s right. Pediatricians were now saying it’s best to let a 2-year old decide when to accomplish one of the biggest milestones of childhood development.
Needless to say, the rush to potty train subsided significantly. By 2001, the average age of the potty trained child jumped to 37-months. All of a sudden we have children getting ready to start school and the pressure is on to get them out of diapers. All because we’ve been waiting for them to say they are ready to start potty training. Now, I’m sure they are out there, but I don’t know any child, let alone a preschooler, that would voluntarily change everything they’ve ever known their entire life to take on something completely unfamiliar to them.
Listen, I get it. Potty training is a touchy subject. It’s personal. It isn’t really something you bring up in general conversation. Moms don’t toss around potty training tips during play dates. Maybe we’re scared of stepping on someone’s toes. Maybe we’re scared of being judged. Instead, we stand in a corner with our friends and secretly hate the mom with the 21-month old “prodigy” who is already out of diapers.
But this is where a common misconception lies. Early potty trainers don’t necessarily have higher intelligence. We know that a child is physiologically ready to potty train at 18-months. That means their brains can handle the concept and their bodies can execute it. Plus, a 20-month old is much less likely to protest a huge change than a 3-year old. Toddlers are still eager to please, easily impressionable, and we can “sell” them on the idea more easily. Really, as we wait longer, we are just making it more difficult on ourselves.
Repeat after me – it’s okay. It’s okay as a parent to take control over this. Your little one is not going to hold any resentment against you for making them ditch the diaper. If anything, they will feel proud of themselves, empowered. So, sorry pediatricians, I have to disagree with you on this one.
I know it may come as a shock – I am not a doctor or a psychologist. But I am a MOM. I have potty trained my 2 toddlers and helped several friends and clients train their kids. I have hands-on, in-the-trenches experience. It takes dedication, commitment, and patience. It will probably be messy at times. But you can do it. You can take back the power. Let’s support one another through the process. Share ideas. Accept help. Stop judging. Together, we can start the revolution.
It’s okay as a parent to take control over this. Your little one is not going to hold any resentment against you for making them ditch the diaper. If anything, they will feel proud of themselves, empowered.