Potty Training: Not a One Size Fits All | Written by Lindsay Gerber

Can you envision it? The perfect method. I’m here to talk about the dreaded parental task that is potty training. I’m also here to tell you upfront that I have no magical method to conquering this ever sought after feat. I AM here to tell you that no matter the method, it doesn’t necessarily work for all kids. Honesty is the best policy, right? With that being said, keep reading if you dare to know our story. Keep reading to find out what we’ve learned in our journey of potty training 4 kids. I’m just here to keep it real.

Before I dive in, I want to say something super cliché. Comparison is the thief of joy. There, I said it. It’s true. Do not compare your child to any other child, not even a sibling. Don’t do it in potty training. Don’t do it ever. Children are uniquely different for a purpose and making those comparisons will only become a road block for you and for your child. Okay, now that’s out of the way and we can talk about the potty. Yay?

You will see blogs and books about how to to do this. You know, the ones for potty training success in just 3 days. How about the method that says to chase your naked toddler around the house looking for any sign they are about to pop a squat? Then, you catch them just in time. Yeah, those have worked for some. I’m here to tell you they aren’t universal. I’m no professional, but I have gone through this process 4 times with many different paths to a favorable result. Roller coaster might actually be a better word than path here.

I received advice from many wise individuals, but the advice simply didn’t work for me. Someone once told me to potty train my child within “the window”, and if I don’t I’m going to miss it. I’m here to debunk that claim and to say that the window isn’t a one size fits all. Someone also told me to wait until my child is ready. I’m here to debunk that also. Kids give mixed signals all the time. All of my kids are now potty trained and no process was the same. I’m not here to toot my own horn. I will be the first to admit that I still don’t know what’s best when it comes to potty training. I just don’t think there is a best. Here’s our story.

I worked really hard with my first child to make sure he was potty trained. I didn’t want him to fall behind. You’ve heard the phrase “right on track”, yeah? I was convinced he was going to be on track, if not advanced. Well, I pushed him too hard. He wasn’t ready. I tried to make it happen in “the window”, which I’m not even going to tell you because it’s just simply not a thing. Looking back, I don’t think I would have noticed the signs if he was ready anyways. I was a first time mom. I probably did more harm than good by pushing him to try to meet some standard. I compared him to others who were already potty trained, and that was my first mistake. It was a long process for him and for us. He just needed time and to be loved through it, that’s all. No shame, just support. Once again, it’s not a one size fits all. Don’t let anyone else dictate how you go through this process. It has the potential to set you up for failure.

I was so discouraged by the first go around that I decided to forego potty training my second child. I literally did nothing. I asked him a couple times if he wanted to go potty like big bro, and each time he said no. Then one day, he said, “Mom, I need to go potty!” and has had 5 or less accidents since. No pull ups at night, just a strong bladder. It really felt like a win at the time, but was it? I need to clarify something for you. As much as it felt like success for me, it had nothing to do with me. I did nothing. It worked out favorably, but no method got us this outcome. The lack of method wouldn’t work for my future kids either. I will say it again. Potty training is NOT a one size fits all, and comparison IS the thief of joy.

I won’t bore you with all of the details of each of my kids. What I will say, is that we put too much pressure on ourselves to meet a truly unreachable standard. Kids are not a cookie cutter mold, so parenting them shouldn’t be either. Potty training success can’t be reached without flaw for every single child in your family. Maybe it worked for your neighbors down the street, but it doesn’t work for everyone. It just doesn’t. Don’t let the so called “rules of society” coax you into believing your kids are falling behind or that you have to follow some method in order to achieve greatness. Your kids are already great. They are unique and beautiful in every way. I must say, mama, you are too.

I’m not here to say the methods in those books don’t work. I’m here to say that they don’t work for everyone. If you’re a mom struggling to potty train your kids because you’re trying to fit into the mold, I see you. If you’re a mom trying to keep up with the societal norms of where your kids should be on some stupid scale, I see you too. I see you. I feel you. I encourage you. For those who potty training came easy for, please don’t use judgment when you see your mom friend struggling in this way. I’m here to tell you to put the book down. Mama’s, lift your heads up and remember, potty training is not a one size fits all.

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