To Potty Consistently

Potty training. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! We started our potty training adventure last week and are having moderate “success”. I actually hate using the word “success” when it comes to potty training because, like all of life learning, there isn’t really a success and failure. I say that because there are many things in life that are automatic to us. Keeping ourselves clean, teeth brushing, using the bathroom, dressing ourselves, etc. All of these things seem like no-brainer activities. But we all learned them from someone; none of these are automatic behaviors and it took us all time to learn them. These are not success or fail-based things, they are life elements.

Back to potty training. It has been an interesting week and a half, to say the least. I have a very spirited child. I often wondered what that meant when I read that phrase in books. I no longer wonder. I completely 2179082201_8d52cffb60understand. I have one and I am pretty much positive there may be a picture of him in the parenting dictionary as an example of a spirited child. The important thing for the both of us is to be consistent. I could have easily given up a couple of times this past week just because I was tired , wanted a day off, wasn’t quite sure I had made the right decision or if this was the right timing. Somewhere in my mommy-self I know that I have made the right choice for us at this time. We are ready. And now it is up to me to remain consistent for my sake and for the sake of my child. Spirited children may seem like they do well with change because they are constantly moving and changing every day. The truth is that they deal less well with change than a not so spirited child. Since he was a baby he has not done well with new stimuli and it remains so today. Consistency is key for us.

I know that there are many things up ahead of me in parenting that I will have to remain patiently consistent with. We have passed some of these things and we have hundreds more to go. Potty training is just another one of those steps and we are ready. So today I will purposefully, lovingly and consistently move forward.

And I just have to make a note that we are well armed with Potty Power! Which my son absolutely loves.

Jasmine is a co-housing community living mama with a passion for fierce writing she blogs at

Photo: The Library of Congress

Author: Jasmine Carlson

Jasmine is a community living mama with a passion for fierce writing and fitness. She her way on Team USA by fitness coaching. Shaping Her. ( Join the conversation at (

11 thoughts on “To Potty Consistently”

  1. My son is 3 1/2 and we’re letting him tell us when he wants to use the potty. He already hates pooping in his diaper, but hasn’t gone on the potty yet.

    I don’t see the point of forcing a child on the toilet when they’re not ready, I feel it leads to accidents and defiance towards bathroom use.

    I’ve also heard MANY success stories for children learning to use the potty themselves, rather than being forced. It doesn’t bother me that he’s almost 4 and still in diapers, so I’m fine with it.

  2. Another mom who happened upon elimination communication (EC) and decided, despite how different it sounded (and boy, did I think it sounded nutty!), to give it a go – even just part time.

    Much to my surprise, trying EC really helped me to see that helping our little ones with using the potty can be a beautiful, gentle *process* started from babyhood rather than an event/big change that is begun as a toddler (which is often how it is portrayed in our culture – aka “time to potty train”). Kids gradually transition from breastfeeding to solids to self feeding — and it can be just the same w/ pottying!

    I was blown away by how enjoyable and connecting it was to help my 8-month old (when we started w/ our 1st child) and eventually infant (our 2nd child) with pottying, to see how *aware* they are of their elimination needs even from birth (!!!), and to gradually but surely watch them take the lead and become more and more independt with pottying.

    In fact, I wish that more parents knew about EC *with respect to toddler toilet learning* because it really focuses on connection, is so gentle and very much child-led, while still supporting learning and while avoiding a lot of the anxiety and power struggle/frustration for both parent and child.

    For anyone interested in this alternative, yet very loving and AP approach to pottying (whether with baby or toddler!), check out:

    And specifically for starting w/ an older baby or toddler:

  3. Consistency does make sense with spirited children! I have one too. My spirited guy did take his time with potty learning, but my other 2 boys were fast. I waited until they were over 3 & although it was child-led, just like learning to swim, read & anything else important, it went fast when they were ready. Good luck! 🙂

  4. I think the fantastic part is that child-led potty learning can start from birth or toddler-hood – it just looks a little different depending on the age. Just as we watch our babies for hunger signs and feed them on cue (AKA baby-led feeding) we can do the same for pottying by simply learning to recognize and respond to a child’s elimination cues (AKA baby-led pottying) whether a newborn, crawler, cruiser, toddler, etc. –> very, very much child-led, connected, and gentle.

    Culturally speaking, here in the western world we start potty learning very, very, very late (in most cultures around the world even today, pottying happens much earlier simply due to logistics – just consider how few people really have access to disposable diapers or laundry facilities to accomodate cloth diaper washing, so these cultures are simply more aware of and responsive to a baby’s innate ability to recognize and signal about their need for elimination, just as a baby is able to signal for hunger).

    Just trying to point out that child-led, gentle pottying can occur at any point in the timeline – whether birth or 4 years old and everywhere in between! 🙂

  5. What exactly do you mean with consistency? And how do you know it’s the right time? My daughter is now 20 months and starts using the potty once in a while. But we don’t want to force her. She’s still in nappies most of the time.

  6. We used “Once upon a potty” DVD with our twins. We did not force them at all, and somehow it sort of happened on its own. I know it is hard to believe. But they did like to watch the DVD all the time and maybe it occurred to them that they could imitate the kids who looked just like them!

    We also made a big deal when they did in fact went to the potty and tried. We did not offer any reward or treats, but clapped and said many words of encouragement. After a while, we noticed they felt very proud of their accomplishment, and although it may sound gross, they would point to the stuff in the toilet and say “look, I made it”!

    They are now 3 1/2 and fully potty trained and diaper free even at night.

    Good luck in your adventures with your spirited one!

  7. My son is also 20 months oldmamapoekie. Part of the reason we are doing this is that he started talking about it a lot and expressing interesting. He is very verbal. He also has been getting terrible diaper rashes. We go diaperless all day and ask about the potty and set him on it throughout the day. Of course when we go in to town or outside and during nap and nighttime a diaper goes back on I am hoping it won’t be too long until we don’t have to do that either. By consistence I especially mean that we don’t start and stop things all of the time. Once we start something we are just going to slowly, patiently and lovingly see it through no matter how long it takes.

    It is great to see how things have worked for each parent. Every child and every family functions differently and fosters their attachment bond in different ways. It’s great to see. Keep it up everyone!

  8. Potty training was something we approached very gently, at around 18 / 20 months with our son. We would put it on the floor and tell him what it was for. Invariably he picked the potty up and put it away. So we would leave it for a while, and try again.

    We would leave it on the floor again and let him run around with no diaper; he figured it out soon enough. He very quickly progressed to a toddler seat on the toilet.

    He’s 28 months and is now completely diaper free – both day and night.

  9. Children have a limited understanding of their world. Often the best way to teach (discipline) is to divert his attention by distraction. They find a toy or game you really like and put it before him. You may be redirected several times before concluding that the interference of work, bring their enthusiasm for each new suggestion (with her happy, laughing, dancing, clapping, etc.) the amount of their interests. Sometimes our children can not help you, just need to know what Mom was so stinking excited!

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