The Best-Kept Secret for Frustration-Free Potty Training

written by KATHY SISSON

If you’re home for an extended time with a toddler right now, it might seem like the perfect time to start potty training. But if you find yourself frustrated with the process, I wanted to share our family’s journey for a bit of solidarity and hope if it’s not going according to plan.

I bought my daughter a potty when she was 18 months old. My friend had potty-trained her daughter the same age, so I thought it would help to at least have one in the bathroom to help her get comfortable with the concept. And she did sit on the new potty many, many times—for over a year. We encouraged her, so did her daycare, but not once did she actually use the potty to go potty.

Until one day, around the time she was 3, she did. And she kept doing it. Full disclosure: it would be another few months before she used it for a #2 (she made herself so uncomfortable, and the—ahem— issue forced itself out).

Then, as it so often goes in parenting, when it came time for our second child to move beyond diapers, we forgot what we’d learned our first time around. We used some of the tactics we read about—no pants for three days, lots of tries, daycare support, etc.



Frustration mounted until we decided to postpone potty training until after we returned from an upcoming trip to Disney World. We figured it’d be easier to use diapers in Disney than to find a bathroom in a pinch, like say, if we were at the front of a long line to meet Elsa from Frozen. But then a week before we left for the trip, she used the potty. And then she did the next day and the day after that. We packed Pull-ups for the plane and for the parks, but she didn’t need them.

This makes me lucky, not some potty-training expert, but the biggest learning from both experiences was: let our kids lead the process.

Yes, my friend’s daughter used the potty at 18 months, but some kids learn at 2 years, others at 3, and some middle-schoolers still wet the bed. Every child is different, and sometimes you can’t force the issue, even if the timing seems perfect right now.

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