If you are a mom with no desire or belief to start potty training before age two, I give you permission to stop reading.
Hi. I'm Lori, and I'm an early start potty-trainer.
Let me explain. I have four kids and they were all potty trained before age two. Say what? Yep. Each kid was proudly wearing undies at their second birthday party.
Now, I'm not saying I'm a "potty training expert" but for whatever reason, my methods worked for each of my children. I'm here to share with you some thoughts and tactics in my short-lived potty training experience!
First and foremost, early start potty training is mostly about the mom, not the kid. I sincerely believe that to enter into early start potty training, the mom must change her mindset and her expectations. So here are a few potty training "myths" that I'll first debunk and explain. Let the controversy begin:
Mine are just not ready!
Ok, for PC sake, I'm going to agree that yes, all kids do mature differently. Especially boys vs. girls. But as a whole, I'm going to disagree with this one. 9 out of 10 times it's the mom that's just not ready. Why? Because diapers are convenient and we live in a convenience driven world. Early start potty training is not for the faint of heart or the lazy. And 9 out of 10 moms I've spoken to about training early readily admit it is so much easier to slap on a diaper than plan their errands around a tiny bladder. But I promise you, your kids can (and will) go to the bathroom into a toilet if you start training them to do so.
My pediatrician said I should wait until they're three before even attempting!
This one is my favorite to de-bunk because I have never, never ever heard one pediatrician say this. We go to a practice that has many pediatricians in the group, so I don't always see the same pediatrician depending on why we're at the doctor. Not once in the history of taking my four kids to the doctor have I ever been told to a. wait until they're 3 & b. tell me I couldn't potty train them early. In fact, our "main" pediatrician brought up at our 18 month check-up that we might actually start seeing signs of readiness such as hiding behind a door or couch to go. Yep, we did. Thanks Doc!
My kid needs to be able to dress/undress himself!
If we all waited for this one, none of us would potty train our kids until they were in elementary school. My five year old still needs help occasionally dressing and undressing herself.
My kid isn't talking yet! How will they tell me they need to go?
I guarantee that by the time your child hit their first birthday, they were already experts at communicating exactly what they wanted. Kids typically develop receptively faster than verbally. (This simply means they understand more than they can express.) But kids also can communicate receptively: guiding your hand, pointing, pulling you along to where they want to go, and finally signing. I love teaching my kids sign language. Our entire family got on board and learned basic signs. By the time my kiddos were 1, they knew 20+ signs. This was incredibly helpful when teaching them to go to the bathroom. We introduced the sign for potty, used it continuously, and by the time my kids approached 2, they simply signed the sign for potty when they needed to go. No talking necessary.
I need to come up with rewards!
What's great about starting to potty train very young is the fact you do not need to come up with a reward system. I'm not saying you don't have to reward, but you do not need to invest in Pinterest-y sticker star charts, an assortment of "treasure box" trinkets, or a jar full of skittles. In our household we kept the "reward" of going extremely lo-key: they got to flush the toilet. No joke. My kids loved watching the swirling water and if they didn't go, well, no need to flush. My kids also love great smelling foaming hand soap (I mean, who doesn't?). So I took them to Bath & Body Works, picked out a "flavor," and it was only used when they went to the bathroom. (Also this way when we were out in public, the rewards remained the same: Flushing & Soap. Done.)
I highly recommend buying the book Early-Start Potty Training by Linda Sonna, PhD. The book gives some valuable insights on some of these same "myths." Stay tuned for Part 2 where I'll give step by step strategies for potty training early and tips to help your child succeed!