Because my friend reminded me what a trip “discovering the potty” with your child can be…
It’s like everything else; eating, walking, reading (yes reading) and going poop and pee in the potty, it comes when they are ready and they need no formal instruction (as long as they see it happening and are able to be in on the experience when they want.) I’ve learned with much trial and error that as soon as I stop worrying, researching or even caring – that is exactly when my daughter chooses to take matters in her own capable hands and does things on her own. They don’t need us quite as much as we have ourselves convinced.
As a previous preschool teacher, the developmentally appropriate time for MOST kids to learn to use the toilet is around three to three and a half (of course there are exceptions (younger and older) and you can “make” kids do anything with enough pressure – but lets not go there.) The great thing about letting kids come to the potty issue on their own is that they typically don’t have “accidents” when they are ready vs. when parents are ready. If they truly aren’t ready, they will continue to go in their underwear because their body clues and development have not caught up with their (or their parents) interest.
Frankly, I was ready way before my daughter was but I didn’t have the heart to pressure her or the desire to clean up poop and pee underwear. Show your child their underwear in their drawer, help them with their pull-ups (it’s too hard to take off diapers because they are probably going to want to be successful at this on their own), a seat for the toilet, a stool and no disappointment (when it doesn’t happen on your timeline) – and they’ll take it from there.
If you are running into issues such as “I want to go potty” which reads to our parenting midnight minds as “I want to play.” Just say, “We’ll try it when it’s time to get up.” A couple of midnight potty trips are NOT going to make or break when your child is really ready for no more diapers (and you’ll know when it’s real) – they are smart little buggers though aren’t they? My daughter did and still does the same thing. The toilet as an excuse not to eat, sleep or leave the house – they know they’ve got us with the poop and the pee.
If you’re thinking of using a reward technique, read up on Alfie Kohn’s work – “Punished by Rewards” – an interview about the book.