Toilet Training, Part 2: How We Got To Where We Are.
March 28, 2011

Donald and I had no intention of teaching our daughter how to use the toilet this early.  We thought that in another six months or a year or eighteen months or two years OR WHENEVER SHE DAMNED WELL PLEASED, she’d start showing interest and we’d start encouraging her.  If there’s a truth about child-rearing, though, it’s that every time you make a plan your kid goes and blows it up.

The first time that our daughter used the toilet, she was seventeen months old.  She wanted to be perched up on the toilet, so I let her.  Then she peed.  I was a little confused.  Should I be proud?  Was I supposed to start teaching her how to communicate her elimination needs and encouraging her to use the toilet?  It didn’t seem like she was peeing because she understood how to use the toilet.  It seemed like she was peeing – and it had nothing to do with the toilet.

I decided to try it a couple more times and see what happened, and you know what?  She wasn’t ready.  When I let her decide when to be put on the toilet, she had fun just pretending to do what she saw me do every day.  Sometimes she peed and sometimes she didn’t.  But when I told her that THIS IS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO, she flipped out.  She cried, screamed, threw herself back in a flurry of tantrum-y tears and sometimes it was all I could do to keep her from hitting her head on the toilet.

So we took a toilet break.  “I know people keep telling me that she’s acting ready because she’s showing an interest in the toilet,” I told my husband, “but I’m not convinced.  It doesn’t feel right.  I don’t think she’s ready, I think she’s just playing when she shows an interest.  Playing or mimicking.  I feel like all that screaming was her saying NOT YET.”

My husband nodded understandingly.  “Then let’s wait,” he said.

And we did.

***  My daughter is twenty months old and she is (mostly) toilet-trained.  You can find Part 1 of this series by clicking here.


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  1. By christy on March 28, 2011

    thanks for the update! your daughter is exactly one year ahead of my son so i’m always looking back in your archives and at the same time looking at current posts and seeing what is in our future!

  2. By on March 28, 2011

    We attempted the potty training and Kellen just isn’t ready yet. We are going to keep familiarizing him with the bathroom and toilet, but aren’t going to try the potty training again until after he turns 2. We think he needs to be a little bit more vocal before we should attempt again. I am glad that Charlotte is having success with it though :-) I can’t believe how big our babies are getting!

  3. By Momiss on March 28, 2011

    Go Charlotte!!

  4. By Jeneva on March 28, 2011

    I love it. So many people push their kids too much and it ends up being such a battle. My daughter showed tons of interest too at an early age but she wasn’t ready till she was almost 3. And that was completely fine with me. If anything, it meant I could stay away from public restrooms that much longer.

    Now my son is 2.5 and loves sitting on the toilet but I know he isn’t ready. Once again, I will wait till he is fully ready.

  5. By Sarah Christensen on March 28, 2011

    Erin - I can’t believe it either!!  I saw your update about Tessa rolling over this morning, too, and I was amazed.  When did she get permission to go and grow up?!

    I think all kids are ready on their own timeline.  Charlotte seems to have been ready, and today was her first big ‘test’ in that we were around a ton of kids and fun activities (flax seed, water, paint, dirt, glue, food, etc), and twice she came to me and told me she needed to pee.  I thought for sure that it wouldn’t work out, that this would be proof that she was still too young, but it worked out just fine.  It just goes to show that sometimes we think they’re ready and they aren’t and sometimes we aren’t convinced they’re ready and they are.  Maybe in another few months or a year, Kellen will be communicative enough for it to work =)  He’s a great kid and you’re an attentive mom; I’m sure you’ll find the right time for you two when it comes!

  6. By The Mommy Therapy on March 28, 2011

    Both my sons just decided on their own that they were going to use the toilet around the age of 2. I used to think it was just the gift that God decided to give me in my children since he chose to take away sleep and the ability to function in public anymore.  I mean, i had to have something.  But, my second son regressed quickly before the birth of my third child and well, we still have about 4 accidents a week, periodically a day.  It’s pretty painful to have it and then have it taken away.  Son number one though did it and never looked back.  Even stopped making me buy pricey pull ups for night time. 

    Anyway….all that to say that I totally agree that they all have their own timeline and though I firmly despise letting my children win, I guess this is one where they are totally in control.  Ok, they pretty much run everything but in the potty training they are REALLY in charge.

    By the way, i love your writing.  You commented on one of my posts and told an angry lady to “suck it” which is totally my phrase, as well as “punch you in the face.“  I’m super creative.  Anyway, thanks for the comment and I look forward to reading you more!

  7. By on March 28, 2011

    It’s interesting she was willing to sit on the toilet seat. My kids were always afraid they’d fall in! So we had a potty-seat even after they transitioned from the potty chair. Do they even have potty chairs anymore? It’s been so long, I don’t know. You’re wise to wait. And no matter what happens, just remind yourself that Charlotte will not be using diapers or potty seats when she’s in school. Just reminding ourselves of this somehow puts it into perspective. I used to think one of my sons would NEVER give up his bottle. Then a friend said to me “Lynn, I can GUARANTEE he will not walk down the isle to receive his diploma whilst sucking on his bottle.“ We laughed. It’s true. He’d given it up by then…well, loooong before then. But you get the point.

  8. By Jill Anderson on March 28, 2011

    I also agree, she isn’t truely ready yet. She is just copying what you do because she likes you and she looks up to you. She wants to be just like you and do just what you do. She will be fully ready eventually. No need to rush growing up.

  9. By Sarah Christensen on March 29, 2011

    Jill - This was a few months ago and I totally agreed that she wasn’t ready.  I’m glad we didn’t push it.  I thought that it would take another year before she’d be truly ready, but it only took a few more months before she started to show genuine interest again - but this time she’s been able to put playtime on hold, come to me, let me know she needs to go, and then wait while we rush off to the bathroom, go, then come back.  It’s really amazing how much of a difference a few months have made - from the toilet is a play area to the toilet is a poop area.

  10. By on March 29, 2011

    We went through the same thing with Jude. He showed some signs of interest and when we tried to really encourage it, he totally backed off. He threw a fit if I tried to sit him on the potty, so we just stopped. We still did airing out time, we still communicated to him that what he wa doing was peeing/pooping and let it go.

    Recently he’s been showing interest again, and yesterday we spent an entire day out of diapers and he didnt pee on the floor once. I’m curious to see where this round takes us.


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