Potty Training a 2-Year-Old Toddler

We’ve discovered another joy of parenthood — potty training! It’s been an interesting four weeks since we started potty training our toddler, Emily, who has just hit 2.5 years old.

We started off with great optimism and, of course, the thought of all the money we’d save — no more diapers! Less use of wipes! Buy her some cute underwear, sit her on a potty, and our brilliant child would have it down pat at the end of a 3-day “potty boot camp.” Right? Right?!

After three days of letting her run around in her birthday suit next to the potty chair in her playroom, she wasn’t fully potty trained. Day one went fabulously — no accidents. Days two and three, not so much. She would stand by the TV and just dribble down her leg instead of moving the 3 feet to the potty chair. When she had to do No. 2, she couldn’t figure out where to go. Naturally, these accidents happened in the minute I’d spend grabbing a glass of water or doing a tinkle myself. Otherwise, I practically lived in the playroom with her for those three days.

Emily is amazingly laid-back, but also maddeningly laid-back. The usual tried-and-true toddler enticements have no effect on this child. Promises of cookies or candy or toys went unacknowledged, and let’s not talk about the failed potty sticker chart that’s still pathetically hanging on the wall. A rainbow sticker for a pee and a star sticker for a poop in the potty — sounds like a little girl’s dream, right? I put most of the stickers on the chart by myself, while she ran away to play with a toy.

She got to pick out her own panties, but I may have been more excited about it than she was. She doesn’t mind wearing panties, but absolutely refuses to pull those suckers down — she’ll sit on the potty and do her business through them. She also won’t tell us when she has to go until it’s too late.

Four weeks later, we’re making slow but steady progress. She can stay dry for 2-3 hours at a time before I need to remind her to use the potty, and I still need to take her undies off to help facilitate the process. I realized that we had to change our approach and help her learn to master these new skills. She uses pull-ups when she naps and sleeps at night, because she isn’t ready to sleep dry yet. But I still get a kick out of her every time she successfully uses the potty chair and applauds herself furiously afterward.

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