Before my son was born, I truly thought you had to teach babies (and small children) everything they needed to know. I had never really spent much time around children, and I had no idea that they were always observing, practicing, failing, and trying again to do everything the adults did. Thankfully, my husband and I quickly realized this reality and didn’t bother “teaching” our son how to move his body; rather, we just got out of his way while he figured it out. What a win/win — we saved money and energy by not buying things like jumpers or baby seats, and our son gained an awareness of his body in space and a satisfaction in doing everything himself (safely!).
Now he’s 3, and among his peers it is potty training time. Our friends are reading books, stocking up on M&Ms and stickers, making charts and planning potty training boot camps over long weekends. At first, we thought we would have to go this route, too, but then someone mentioned the idea of potty learning to me. Aha! Of course my son could teach himself! Why had I not thought of this?
I won’t claim it’s as fast as true potty training (my friends seem done with the hardcore portion in a week or so), but the trade-offs (for us) are well worth it. First of all, the onus on learning this skill is on our son, so we don’t have to second guess ourselves on whether the timing is right. However, you have to be patient and trust that your child will eventually want to ditch the diapers. My son still hasn’t warmed up to underpants, so we still use diapers on the go, and our time at home involves a lot of nudity (a little harder to achieve in cooler temps).
But, over the course of six weeks we have had just one “accident,” and that was because my son was still learning to recognize sensations. It seems our friends have bought stock in Clorox wipes at this point because of how much elimination is happening outside of the bathroom. A fun bonus is that we never have to remind him to go and never have to reward him for accomplishing a simple biological need. Paired with the deep sense of joy and satisfaction that we’ve seen from our son that he 100% did this himself (with little to no work from us) is amazing.
Of course, the boot camp method works for tons of families, so if you feel so inclined, go for it! But, if you are on the fence (or are trying to eliminate unnecessary work in parenting — lazy parents unite!), then spend some time exploring potty learning — and then trust the process!