The Various Methodologies of Potty Training, From Storybook to Real Life
by Martinique Davis
Apr 21, 2010 | 1358 views | 2 2 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the kids’ book classic Once Upon a Potty, storybook star Prudence, after one or two missed-the-potty mishaps, realizes she needs to go. And it just dawns on her: GO SIT ON THE POTTY. She sits on the potty. She goes “wee-wee” and “poo-poo.” She is happy and proud and so is her mother. And that’s that. She’s potty-trained – end of story.

I wish real life were more like storybooks sometimes.

Like every new milestone in childhood, potty training has a multitude of methodologies – that is, everyone will tell you a different way to do it. These are just some of the philosophies suggested to us in our recent quest to show Elle the simple beauty of using a toilet.

C’mon, Let’s Ride the Potty Training Express: “You need four days. Four days that you don’t leave the house.”

This was advice handed down to me from a girlfriend in Denver, whose son quit the diaper habit cold turkey. That is, no training pants, no trial periods, lots of accidents.

After day two of repeated sweatpant soiling, Derek was done with diapers. (My girlfriend suggested the two extra days as a precaution.)

The fast transformation aspect of this method is intriguing, I admit. The requirement that you must sequester yourself in your home for days on end, armed with lots of carpet cleaning solution and laundry soap, is less desirable.

Get in Touch with your Pee-pee Intuition:  A local friend’s daughter was barely toddling on two feet when she was weaned from the diaper. How she did it so early seemed to me like magic, and in a sense, it was. This mom just knew when her kid was going to crap her pants, and so would set her on a toilet (or if they were out, simply whip off her pants) and, voila! The kid would go.

This is how tribes in Africa and people who don’t have access to conveniences like diapers supposedly potty train their kids. They become so in tune with their baby’s “rhythms” and “signals” that they don’t really ever even need diapers in the first place.

This methodology strikes a cord in this mother’s rootsy, granola-crunching heart, no doubt. However, I’m not so sure I am as “in tune” with my child’s “rhythms” as I would need to be to make this work.

Hey Grandma, Ready for a Visit?: She’s done it at least once before, it will be easy this time! Our good friends’ daughter was peeing freely on the potty after just one week under the trained tutelage of her all-knowing Grandma.

This is by far the easiest route for Mom and Dad, obviously. Hand the kid over, let Grandma do her magic – what a deal!

Of course, this path also requires handing all parental control over to your mother… often easier said than done.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Bribe, Bribe Again: Some experts say praise is all a child needs to feel compelled to release their parents from diaper-changing servitude. Not so, says a high school friend.

“Oh, I started that way,” she told me, admitting she had read the same advice, about how you shouldn’t award a kid with things like stickers or treats for doing something that is as inherent to human-hood as walking or breathing. She soon realized, however, that clapping loudly while singing the praises of pee-pee on the potty wasn’t packing quite the punch she needed to get the job done.

Out came the package of M&M’s.

“I literally told him: If you use the potty, you can have whatever you want.”

Chocolate did it.

This is, again, so simple a concept I am inclined to go for it. Then again, are the experts right? Will I do some invisible, down-the-road damage to my child by dangling promises of chocolate if she uses the toilet?

Breathe. Relax. Repeat. The Kid Will Pee When She’s Ready: Hey, she doesn’t want to go pee on the potty. That’s cool. She will… someday.

The absence of any kind of structure to this methodology is attractive, I will say. Give the kid a potty, let her use it when she wants to. Stop worrying about her still being in diapers in kindergarten. Commit to wiping butts for an indefinite period of time. She’ll come around… right?

It did work for Prudence, I suppose.
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Cousin Stephanie
April 27, 2010
Send her to North Dakota...Grandma Jean is a pro! :) AND...we would all love to see Elle!!
April 22, 2010
no running water is mother of all invention. i held a tiny (empty) yogurt container under the chute when i saw that look... from tiny baby days, baby knew poop should actually go somewhere. once in a house and as soon as baby legs were long enough, held her on the toilet. this was long before walking/talking. it was a way of life to have that stuff have it's own place to land. she never thought it was a good idea to run around with that in a diaper. also, summer weather is great for letting mistakes happen outside. much easier to clean up!!!