I just read your article Toilet Training Step by Step and found it very helpful. It was easy to read and very informative. I do have some questions, though, specifically related to toilet training my daughter. She is now 30 months and we have been "potty training" for around 10 months. Sounds crazy, I know. I started at the insistence of my family (my first mistake) shortly after my son was born. I put her in pull-ups (mistake #2) and started sitting her on the potty at regular intervals (like all the articles say) with success off and on for the past few months. I feel like I'm the one who is trained to put her on the potty on time. I have praised, given rewards, but I have regrettably punished on occasion. The only problem is this: She has rarely told me before she needs to go potty. She has just now inconsistently started telling me while she is going in her pants (she is in cloth underpants, now). To make a long story short, I have followed all the expert advice related to rewards, stickers, charts, praise and it has not worked for us.
There are mixed opinions it seems about whether putting a child back into diapers is detrimental to the child's self-esteem or later potty training attempts. What do you think about this? Will going back to diapers undo all the progress we've made? OR are we just moving slow and maybe we'll be completely trained soon? I am a normally relaxed, easy-going stay at home mom and it doesn't bother me if she's 4 before she's trained. Please let me know your opinion on this when you can.
With that said, the question is what you should do now. I would recommend letting your daughter guide you. If your daughter seems to want to use the toilet and prefers not to put on diapers, then you may want to keep working on the issue. If, however, your daughter is more than happy to go back into diapers, she is probably telling you that she is still not ready for this step.
While every child is different, if your child is happy in diapers, then I do not think you need to worry about affecting her self-esteem. I also do not think this will necessarily affect toilet training later on. Usually, the later a child starts toilet training, the quicker the process is accomplished. You are probably right that your daughter is on her way, but it may still take her several months until she has completed the process. If instead, you put her back in diapers and then try again in six months, the process may take only a week or two.
If you choose to put your daughter back into diapers, I would suggest that you start the toilet training process again right after her third birthday. (Or before, if she expresses an interest.) Don't worry, the skills that you have helped your child develop over the past few months will still be there and she will use them when she is ready.
Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions.
Esther Boylan Wolfson
Director, Early Childhood Development Center