Why My Three-Year-Old Potty Trained Himself

potty training
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My second son, Noah, has flaming red hair, a devious smile that will melt your heart, and the sweetest little giggle. He also is strong headed, throws massive tantrums, and is a fierce negotiator. I knew he would be a hard one to potty train, but really, I wasn’t prepared for all that he had to throw at me.  

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When Noah was close to two and a half years old, he started to demonstrate potty training readiness signs, including following his big brother to the bathroom and pulling down his pants. I quickly got on board, ordered him cloth pull-ups, and had him pick out his very own Elmo potty. Isn’t that what the “experts” say to do? Let your child have some sort of ownership in the experience and make it fun. Sorry, nothing about potty training is fun—ever! Well, except when they finally start using the potty without it being a major drama fest.  

Three days into “Noah starts potty training,” I wanted to throw in the towel, literally and physically. With every mention of the potty, Noah flat out refused. He stomped his feet, dropped his weight, and ran away from his tiny little potty. Even when I put him in underwear, he refused to even attempt to try the “big kid” way. As soon as he had an accident in his underwear, he asked to be changed, so I clung onto this. About two weeks into the so-called potty training, I declared defeat. Noah went back into his cloth diapers, even though he protested it. I outright told him he could not wear underwear until he started to sit on the potty. And again, he refused. After this experience, it confirmed my belief that a child has to want it more than you do or else it just isn’t going to happen.  

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Shortly after Noah turned three, I put out the small potty again, with no real plan to try “training” again. Occasionally, I would mention to Noah that the Elmo potty was back if he ever wanted to try it out. Weeks went by, and we went on with our usual routine of cloth diapers. Suddenly, one afternoon, I heard my oldest son in the bathroom declare, “Noah used the potty!” I half expected him to be making this up, but I ran upstairs to check things out. Sure enough, Noah had his cloth diaper down, and there was pee in the potty. I stood there with my mouth wide open, a look of shock and pride on my face. From that day on, Noah wore underwear and declared himself a “big boy.” Sure, he had plenty of misses, but there were more hits than misses. Within a month, he fully “potty trained” himself, and I was off the hook.  

Did you struggle with potty training as much as I did? 

What do you think?

Why My Three-Year-Old Potty Trained Himself

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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2 comments

  1. Profile photo of Kate Kate says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this! So many parents put stress on themselves and their kids by pushing the potty when the little one just isn’t ready. I’m so tired of being asked when my 2 year old is going to start using the potty. My answer is always the same. When he’s ready!

  2. Profile photo of cassie cassie says:

    They know when they’re ready 😉

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