No Two Kids Train Alike
Finding the Method That Works for Your Child
5/28/2008 | by Sue Marquette Poremba
Alana Morales’ son was ready to begin potty training when the dampness was uncomfortable enough to motivate him to use the toilet regularly within three days. Morales’s daughter, on the other hand, is the opposite.
“My son was so easy to train,” says the Gilbert, Ariz., mother. “My daughter, on the other hand, has no desire to be out of diapers.”
In reality, no two children are alike when it comes to potty training, and a child’s individuality and learning style needs to be considered. Because parents may have developed a successful potty training routine with one child, they may be tempted to follow that same exact routine with another child. However, parents will usually find they have an easier time with potty training if they are willing to learn and use the method that will work best for each individual child.
Your Child’s Personality
Dr. Ari Brown, pediatrician and author of the book Baby 411 (Windsor Peak Press, 2003), says potty training often depends on the personality of your child.
And that’s exactly what Barbara Schroeder of Emigsville, Pa., discovered with her three children.
“My son said that he didn’t want to wear diapers anymore, so that’s when we started his potty training, which took no time at all,” she says. “My second daughter was a little more stubborn and was too involved in her own little universe to worry about using the bathroom.”
Maturity also plays a major role in the way children approach potty training. While one child might understand the urge to use the toilet at 18 months, her sibling might not grasp the concept until he is 3 years old. Some children become so engrossed in their play that they simply don’t notice they have wet themselves, or they just don’t seem to care.
“Children have different degrees of sensory processing and sensory integration, meaning the ability to use environmental and bodily information to make appropriate judgments and movements,” says Laurie LeComer, author of A Parent’s Guide to Developmental Delays (Perigee Trade, 2006). “Children are individual and unique, and although you may employ the same potty training techniques that you either know or have heard will be successful, children will vary in their responses, and the lengths of time it takes to potty train will be very individual.”
To recognize your child’s individuality and develop a technique that fits your child, LeComer suggests learning to “read” your child.
“Before beginning potty training, take note of any eliminating patterns your child has,” she says. While one child may need to pee the moment she gets up, another child may not pee until after she’s had a glass of juice at breakfast. Recognizing the child’s unique body rhythm will help parents know when to encourage the child to use the potty.
“Also take notice of any body language or facial expressions that show your child is about to or in the process of going,” LeComer adds. “If you notice your child showing any of these signs, rush him to the potty or toilet with an attitude of excitement, reminding him that he is old enough to now use what the [older kids] and grown-ups use.”
Because children never behave the way we expect them to, parents need to be flexible. If they see the first method is not working, switch the routine.
Whatever approach is used, parents should remember that one method is not any better or worse than the other, says Dr. Edward Christophersen, a toilet training expert and psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
“In the end, every child still has to be trained,” he says.