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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Early Toilet Training

Written by  Esther Boylan Wolfson

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Early Toilet Training

QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

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.

Thank you

AI can tell how much you care about your daughter and it is great that you are looking for the best way to help her through the toilet training experience. It sounds to me that you feel you may have started the toilet training process before your daughter was ready. From my experience and what you described, this is probably the case. While some children do toilet train early, I find that most children are not fully ready for this step before the age of 2 and a half. In fact, I personally do not push toilet training at all (unless initiated by the child) until age three.

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.

Best Wishes,

Esther Boylan Wolfson
Director, Early Childhood Development Center

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 11:53
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Esther Boylan Wolfson

Esther Boylan Wolfson

Esther Wolfson , director of our Early Childhood Development Center is an Early Childhood Specialist, who received her BA in English Communications from Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University and an MA in Early Childhood Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, both in New York City. Esther worked as a pre-school special education teacher for seven years. Three of those years were spent working in a school for language delayed pre-schoolers, which is her area of specialty. Another special love of hers is cooking with young children. One of her most enjoyable projects was developing a program for cooking with pre-school children for three special education programs. Esther and her husband Myles have three boys aged eight, five and two-years-old. While her three lively boys and her work at WholeFamily, keep her quite busy, in her spare time (if she ever has any!) she is an avid reader who also enjoys creative writing, exercising and swimming.

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