Ok, this might be a dicey topic to tackle but I’m going to share my journey to potty-training my very stubborn, strong-willed 3 year old. Meet Rylyn, my adorable, fun-loving, very adventurous, super strong-willed 3 year old son. Rylyn turned 3 in November of last year, depending on who you ask he is either ‘way past the age he should be potty trained‘ or ‘just barely 3.’ If you are still scratching your head trying to figure out how old he is, he’s 3 years old and 3 months. Ever since he turned 2 I’ve had friends, relatives and random moms I’ve met ask me when I’m going to get him potty-trained. It’s like there is some unwritten rule that every child must be potty trained as soon as they have their second birthday or you as a mom are doing a terrible job being their mom. I’m here to say, that is absolutely WRONG! Hate me if you want, but it’s wrong.
Here’s my story. I’m a mom of 3 children. Rylyn is my third child. Oh I can hear the gasps out there – yes he is my third child, this is my third time down the potty training road. Before Rylyn was born I was on the same team that said you should really have your child potty trained sometime after they turn 2, and if it took until they were 3, then your mommy potty training skills must be lacking. Let me take a minute to explain my older two children. My oldest son, Coen, is a very inquisitive, too-smart-for-his-own-good type of child and he was interested in the toilet and how it worked when he was a year old. By the time he was 18 months old he was asking to use the potty like a “big boy.” Before his second birthday he was completely potty-trained, and at the time I totally thought that was because I was an amazing mommy that deserved a “gold star” in all things potty training. In reality his personality was one that went hand in hand with being potty-trained early. I got lucky, and he was my first!
My middle child, Makenzie, is a very agreeable, easy-going girl. She loves to please and do what she is told and is always wanting to help mommy with everything. I was due to have my third child, Rylyn, in November, and had no intention at all of trying to potty-train Makenzie before he was born since she had just turned 2 in June. I vividly remember being hugely pregnant with Rylyn, and planning to go grocery shopping with Makenzie one Sunday morning. Before we left she very shyly asked me if she could wear panties that day. We had never talked about potty training or even had her sitting on the potty or wearing Pull-ups. I was surprised she asked, and thought it was the worst possible timing to potty train just weeks before Rylyn was born. But, I said ok, and she never once had an accident in those panties. She knew she was ready and it was a non-issue. Done and done. Now, again, I was giving myself a huge pat on the back and claiming my next mommy potty-training trophy. In reality, she’s a girl, she just got it, and she decided she was ready. I got really lucky with her too. (She’s like this with a lot of things so far, she’s just a great kid and easy to be a mom to – she makes me look like I’m doing a good job being a mommy).
Now, let’s move on to my third boy, Rylyn. He is very sweet, but full of spice little boy. He goes 100 miles an hour all the time, and would leap tall buildings if he was allowed to. He’s very stubborn and loves to throw tantrums anytime he doesn’t get his way. He’s like fire and ice – all the time. Now, when this child turned 2 he had no idea what the potty was for and didn’t care one bit – all he cared about were his trains. At 2 and half, I was hoping and praying he would get a clue about the potty, but still showed no interest and in fact cried when the little potty magically showed up in the bathroom one day. Around this time a lot of his little friends were starting to use the potty, he still showed no interest at all. When he turned 3, I was really starting to stress about it. I had well-meaning friends and family members ask me over and over when I was going to get on the ball and get him potty trained. I’ll tell you what mommas – I chose not to listen to any of them, and here is why. I’m his mother and I know my child best. Period. What I know about my child was that he is stubborn and pushing him to do something was going to make him dig in his heels even more. I also know that he is a very smart child – so trying to bribe him with little gifts, or toys, or candy wasn’t going to work (we had tried that for a few weeks and nothing was motivating him). Thirdly, after having two other kids go down the potty training road, I do know that their body needs to be ready and so does their mind, the two have to work together in order for potty training to click – and Rylyn at the age of 3 just wasn’t ready – he just didn’t get it and he didn’t care.
So, we didn’t push him. We noticed he was starting to put the pieces together when his favorite cousin was visiting for Christmas (his cousin is about 5 months younger) and was regularly using the potty. For whatever reason, Rylyn really seemed to pay attention and we noticed he started to get embarrassed when his diaper was messy. About three weeks later, out of the blue Rylyn asked me if we could go to the store and buy some Chuggington (his favorite thing in the world) underwear because he was ready to be a “big boy!” And later that day, we did just that. He picked out his new underwear and it was a done deal. I knew he just needed to make up his own mind to do it and as much as I pushed him, he was going to push back. So we just stopped pushing and removed all the pressure and he just decided. He is now 3 years and 3 months old and wears his underwear proudly everyday and has had very few accidents. I’m completely confident that he gets it and I don’t stress about him having an accident when we are out and about. I’m so glad that I listened to my own intuition and I didn’t force it on him. I’m very proud of my little guy and the potty-training journey we went on together!
My advice if you are knee-deep in potty training woes:
- Don’t listen to what anyone else says is the right time for your child.
- Listen to your intuition.
- Pay attention to your child – after all you know them pretty well.
- Don’t put any pressure on yourself or your child to be trained by a certain time or date.
- Find what motivates them – if it’s a toy, or candy, etc – and use that to your advantage. (For Rylyn it was being a “big-boy” like his siblings and getting special “big-boy” privileges such as going to the “big-boy” class a church rather than the nursery with the babies)
- Encourage them through the whole process.
- Learn to bite your tongue when you are frustrated or when they have an accident.
You got this momma! Potty-training is so hard, but chin up! One day you will look back and can have a party when you get to pass all those unused diapers on to someone else! WAHOO!
Comment below and share with me what things you have tried on your very own potty training journey. What worked? What didn’t? What mistakes did you make? What do you wish you have done differently? I’d love to help, if you need advice or tips let me know! Hugs!
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