Question: My husband and I are having trouble with our 2 and a half year old. He's very independent and very smart, but the only problem is he has absolutely no interest in potty training. We've tried to coax him with treats (cookies!), tried to guilt him into it (look, your friend Ella uses the potty!), and even tried those potty books that glorify sitting on the toilet, which he loves reading but doesn't make the connection to how it relates to him. Any ideas on how we can speed this process? Baby No. 2 is on the way in a few months!
From Lee in Stoneham
I have two words for you: Back off.
There are very few things in life over which a 2 1/2-year-old has control. Using the potty is one of them. Figuring out how to get more attention from mom and dad is another. You've hit the jackpot! He's a smart cookie, he's figured out that he can get lots of attention by not using the potty. Plus, boys tend to train later than girls. In the scheme of things, you're expecting too much too soon.
Believe me, I get it that you'd like not to have two in diapers, but you may not be that lucky.
In fact, with a new baby coming, all the more reason to back off and let this happen on his own agenda. My advice is to tell him, "You know, we can see that you aren't ready to use the potty. So we're just going to leave it here and, you know what? it's your decision to use it. If you decide you want to try it, just let us know and we'll help you."
Then stop talking about it, stop making offers of rewards, simply Stop. When he sees it doesn't generate any extra attention to not use it, it will be less of an issue and eventually, he'll become interested on his own and then it will happen quickly.
Pediatrician and author T. Berry Brazelton (his book,"Toilet training the Brazelton Way", is my favorite on the subject) says most children are not even ready to train until a child is well past 2. In fact, one reason training can take a long time is because parents initiate it before a child is ready. He says there are seven signs of readiness and he recommends waiting until all seven are present before even beginning toilet training.
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