Family Magazine

Potty Without Training

By Dgmommy @dgmommyblogger

Potty without Training

Potty Learning in Progress
Photo Credit: Manish Bansal
Creative Commons License

Last week I wrote about the reasons why I refuse to potty train my children. This week, I'll tell you how they learned to use the toilet anyway!
Instead of "training," I used Gentle Encouragement. Theresa, from The Outnumbered Mommy, calls it "Potty Learning" in her house. I like that term too, because there's no forcing or control implied.
My Gentle Encouragement method takes longer than the 3-days or a week that traditional training methods require. It can take a few weeks, or months or a year. It depends on the age and readiness of your child. However, it also takes a lot less patience and determination! Begin with the understanding that your child will eventually use the toilet exclusively. Understand that they will want to! Then, simply encourage them to do so.

Note: Your first born will likely take the longest. Younger siblings tend to pick up interest sooner because they see their adored older sibling using the toilet.
The How To - There is no set-in-stone procedure, but to give you a general idea, here's how I do it:
1. Watch for readiness - Our brains are wired for bladder control. Somewhere between 18 and 30 months your child will start to "tell" you they're ready. Signs include staying drier longer, especially through naps; general interest in the toilet; he notices when he's wet or tell you when he goes potty or poop in his diaper; ability to follow 3-step directions; an increased attention span.
2. Encourage the Transition - When my first-born started fighting every diaper change, with every diaper change I would say, "You sure don't like diaper changes! When you go potty in the toilet you won't need them anymore!" Then I would list all the people she knew who use the toilet! "I go potty on the toilet. Aunt Jen goes potty on the toilet. Your friend Ava goes potty on the toilet." And so on and so forth. Use male role models for boys.
3. Frequently recognize and verbalize her (or his) big kid status - "Wow, what a big girl you are! You did _____ (fill in the blank)! Big girls go potty on the toilet too!"
4. Exposure - The more natural, non-demanding exposure to the toilet your child gets, the better. Read potty books, have play-dates with peers who already use the potty and when you need to go, let him know, "Mommy has to go potty on the toilet now! I'm a big girl!"
5. Just Ask - When you're at home and it's convenient, just ask once in a while. No pressure, no forcing, just a simple question. "Want to go potty on the toilet?" My 2-year-old (29-months) now tells me, "Big kaka" ("kaka" is French for poo poo, my kids are bilingual) right before he goes. So, I ask the question. Sometimes he says, "Yes!" and we run to the toilet. Sometimes he says no, so I say, "OK. If you go in the toilet we won't need to change your diaper."
That's it. Easy, stress-free potty learning. You're wondering how long it took my kids?
1st born - started showing interest around 22 months, out of diapers at 30 months (Grandma was coming to visit for Thanksgiving. That day my girl decided she was officially a big girl and diapers were gone forever).
2nd born - started showing interest around 20-months. Out of diapers around 32 months, nights took until age 4.
3rd born - currently 29-months, goes potty on the toilet a couple of times a day. Still in diapers.
Questions? Ask away!

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