I remember when my first kid (boy) was two and a half. He was enrolled in a Mother’s Day Out program, and he was the youngest, yet tallest and heaviest, child in his class. As the year went on, his teacher’s began to ask me, “So when is Henry going to be potty trained? Have you practiced going to the potty yet?” Hint hint: we are tired of changing this giant toddler’s diaper. By December, three months shy of three years old, he was the only kid in the class who wasn’t potty trained.
Henry had been showing all the “signs” that he was ready to be potty trained around age two. Or so I thought. But, I didn’t really want to deal with it, so I did nothing about it. And looking back, that was a great choice for us. I’ve heard too many stories of two-year-olds who were supposedly potty trained, but then spent an entire year “regressing” or having poop battles with their parents. OR they were “successfully” potty trained, which only means that mom and dad successfully carried kiddie-toilets in the car, successfully asked if they needed to go at the right time, or successfully made 12 trips a day to the bathroom in order to avoid an accident. If that’s your jam, more power to you.
Anyway, I didn’t really want Henry’s teachers to keep nagging me, so my big plan was to put on my own big girl pants and TRY to actually potty train. I would use the month-long winter break to get him taking care of business. My friends had used the three-day, juice-up, lock-down method somewhat successfully, so that’s what I was planning to do too. I was all ready to go with juice (to fill his bladder), cheerios (targets for him to aim at in the potty), M&Ms and stickers (the reward), and a potty seat to make it less likely that he would fall in. I still prefer a potty seat, as opposed to a personal mini-potty, but that’s really personal preference.
After one day, I was exhausted (mistake # 1, attempting this feat while my Dear Husband was out of town), and Henry started to intentionally “hold it,” which was creating obvious problems. Since I don’t believe in making life MORE stressful than it absolutely HAS to be, I gave up before the end of day two. You could say I quit, but I truly believe he just wasn’t ready, despite the fact that he was almost three, despite the fact that his teachers were nagging me. As the oldest child, he didn’t have an older sibling to model. It was new and different, and transition is hard!
At this point, because he was a giant-child, I decided to switch him to pull-ups and lay off for awhile. We still talked about it, encouraged it, and he got a decent amount of peer pressure at school. He poop-trained first. And by the time he was a little past three, he would go #1 MOST of the time in the potty. I knew he was ready to be weaned off the pull-ups when he would pee in them, take them off, and put on a new pull up all by himself. And I guess I finally became tired of buying diapers. He was past three years old. But guess what? There was literally zero stress. He had almost NO accidents. This was the benefit we got from waiting well past when most of the experts said he should be ready.
I continued what I like to call the “lazy” method with my second son, and that’s my plan for #3 too because did I mention it’s just so easy?
Here’s three ways to know if “Lazy” Potty Training is right for you:
You have a strong-willed child.
Granted, you may not actually know you have a strong-willed child until you start potty training, but if your intuition tells you that this will just be another battle, maybe you should just leave it till your child is ready. Barring some extenuating condition, they probably won’t be showing up to Kinder in diapers.
You don’t want the extra work.
I have plenty of friends who will gladly carry the potty all over town and walk their kids to the potty four times during a play date to avoid an accident. This doesn’t stress them out or bother them. I admire them, but I am not one of them. Once kids are out of diapers, especially between ages 2 and 3, you may expect many untimely “I have to go potty!” exclamations — you know, like when you’ve just sat down to lunch a football field away from the closest restroom with an even younger baby in tow, or when you’re in the middle of a grocery trip. Older kids can hold it a little longer, and diapers, though gross to change, are convenient in this respect.
You don’t really mind what people think.
Having a giant child in diapers could potentially be embarrassing, if you let it. I had a three-year-old who looked three-and-a-half. His teachers and plenty of others were pushing us to move forward, but I am proud to say for once in my life, I didn’t let the opinions of others get to me. We waited till everyone was ready, and it was seamless.