1. The first rule of potty club: Do not talk about potty club.
The more I talked, the more stressed I was.
We started potty training just before my daughter’s third birthday. It felt late — check Google and you’ll find 2-year-olds who trained themselves. I read articles and polled friends about timing and methods. We waited for signs of readiness from my daughter (knowing her body, dressing herself, discomfort with wet diapers). We taught her about her body, where food goes, why pee and poop need to come out. We chose a summer holiday weekend and let her be naked. We encouraged her to sit on the potty at regular intervals but never forced her to go. It worked for a few days. There was the sweet tinkle sound in the toilet, and we thought we had it made.
2. The second rule of potty club: Setbacks happen.
And then all of sudden, she gave up. The power struggle kicked in. Weeks became months. Yes, my daughter knew how to use the potty. But she simply didn’t want to. She used a potty at school; maybe it was the routine and all her friends. I talked with her pediatrician who said some kids take longer. I read parenting blogs and online forums that said kids who are older than 3 or 4 and are not potty trained are the result of a failure in parenting — those parents are too lazy. I felt like a failure. Incentives didn’t work, schedules didn’t work — I even offered Disney World and told her they only had big bathrooms there. She said she didn’t really want to visit Mickey. My kid LOVES Mickey.
3. The third rule of potty club: What works for one child/family doesn’t work for all. Do what feels right for you.
Finally I asked my daughter why she didn’t want to use the potty. She told me she wasn’t ready. She said when she turned 4 she would be ready. That felt like an eternity. It felt like every other kid was using the potty already. I felt embarrassed she was still wearing pull-ups. So back to our wise pediatrician. She suggested taking a break, getting out of the control cycle, and following my daughter’s lead. So we let it go; we stopped talking about the potty. We stopped asking her or reminding her to go. We let her wear pull-ups to pee or poop, which she’d ask for (otherwise wearing underpants). I confess I even let her pee outside a few times because it was summer and she thought it was fun. I had nothing to lose.
4. The fourth rule of potty club: Listen to Queen Elsa and “Let it go…”
A few days after her fourth birthday, my daughter had to go to the bathroom. She asked for a pull-up. I nonchalantly suggested using the travel potty. And she did. No questions. No tears. No drama. A week later she pooped in it and I wanted to throw a super pooper party for one!
5. The fifth rule of potty club: The cliche is true, with rare exception — your kid won’t go to kindergarten in diapers.
Joining the potty club for me, as a mom, was worse than breastfeeding struggles and worse than sleepless nights. The power struggle and pride was real (all in my head). But it taught me invaluable lessons about my child and myself — though she be but little, she is fierce. And I’m sure glad I don’t have to do it again!