My daughter didn’t potty train on her second birthday. She didn’t potty train on her third birthday. Now it’s a couple months into her third year, and Mama is nervous. Learning to use the toilet is an important milestone. Most children start working on this skill between 18 months and 3 years of age.
But my 3-year-old daughter is showing no signs of potty training readiness.
- Waking up with a dry diaper
- Showing interest in the potty
- Letting you know when he or she has a wet or poopy diaper
- Letting you know when he or she is going to pee or poop
- Talking about the potty
- Going to a corner or stopping an activity and squatting to poop
- Expressing diaper discomfort
She’s not ready, but Mama’s ready! I want to kick that diaper pail to the curb. What if your child is displaying pretty big signs that you should wait to potty train.
- Crying when you mention potty training
- Yelling “NO” when you ask them to use the potty
- Delaying using the potty and having an “accident” right after trying
- Withholding pooping because he or she doesn’t want to use the toilet
Why do I continue to potty train her if she’s not ready? It’s because I’m so afraid of having a 4-year-old who isn’t potty trained. Everyone else was done at three. Most children are able to control both bladder and bowels and leave diapers behind sometime between 3 and 4 years old. We need to be done at three! What will people say or think? I’m ashamed for feeling this way.
When my kid doesn’t hit a milestone, I feel anxiety. I feel like a failure especially since I’m a stay-at-home mom, and this is my only job. Why can’t I get this right? I compare my kids to others and my mothering. I spiral into anger, confusion, and anxiety. Very un-Stay-in-Bed-Mom-like. This is a trigger that I’m conscious of in my life.
I feel resentful of other moms who have success with their sticker charts and have kids who proudly proclaim, “I go potty.”
But here’s the reality. Having been a former school teacher, I know kids are on their own schedule. There’s no “typical” schedule. Potty training is no different.
According to a 1999 article in The New York Times, only 60 percent of children have achieved mastery of the toilet by 36 months, the study found, and 2 percent remain untrained at the age of 4 years. Phew.
This isn’t my failure. It’s not my daughter’s failure.
Since the Second World War, kids are taking longer to potty train. Why should mine be no different?
Potty training isn’t up to me, the parent. I don’t get to choose the timeline. I’m not in control of how this all goes down.
Above all, it’s important to stay positive. An article on Care.com states that “Children late to potty train can sense disapproval” and that it’s imperative to “instill confidence in [children] that they will indeed become potty trained.” They need to feel they can do it. “It’s a relief to them a feeling that they are on the right path,” the article quotes.
- “Guide for Parents – Toilet Training Your Child: The Basics” – aap.org
- “Potty Training Tips for When Your Kids Won’t Go” – Family Education
- “Toilet Training” – Johns Hopkins Medicine
- “Two Experts Do Battle Over Potty Training” – The New York Times
A Final Thought – From the Pillow
My daughter is on her own journey throughout childhood.
So it’s my job to be a positive partner in it.
Do you have a late potty trainer? How do you deal?