When I tell most Moms about my kids being potty trained by 18 months old most of them literally gag! They say things like, “You’re crazy for potty training early!” or “You are such a Type A Parent/Tiger Parent!” But I can assure you, I’m not “that” parent.

I guess it’s because most children in the US may wear diapers until  2, 3 or even 4 years old. What most people don’t understand is that it is much easier to potty train a 1-year-old than it is to potty train a 2 or 3-year-old.

Why are we postponing the inevitable Potty Training?

In past generations, most American children were out of diapers by 18 months. Today, many kids don’t master basic toilet training skills until they are almost 3 years old. In a 2002 recent study, more than half the children over 32 months failed to stay dry during the day.

A couple of reasons:

Bad reputation: In the 1920s and 1930s, parents were urged to impose a rigid toilet training regimen on children before they could walk. Techniques were coercive, even abusive. During this time, early potty training got a bad reputation because it was associated with bad training methods.

Emergence of Pull Ups: Pull Ups were introduced in 1989. Their purpose was to serve as a conduit between diapers and potty training/independence. Unfortunately, the Pull Up is a diaper for older kids, and it has been used to postpone potty training. It has been marketed as progress toward your goal of potty training and independence, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

We don’t want to be ‘that Pressuring Parent’: There has been a growing movement in the U.S. and most of the Western World about kids growing up too fast. Given how the world is changing, and how competitive it is, parents have been forcing kids to do more and more activities to the point where kids are getting overwhelmed.

I totally agree with not “forcing” kids to do things. But I also believe in exposing them to as much as possible to truly understand what they love and what they are naturally good at.

Though, I must qualify, that crucial life skills (i.e. sleeping,potty training, etc.) do need to be taught. I believe that many parents confuse early exposure with pressure, because many are not equipped with the tools, strategies, and language to meet a young toddler or child where they are developmentally. That’s a shame and is something we are hoping to provide here at SmartKidParenting (ok, I’m done with the mini plug).

Benefits of Potty Training Early (~1 year old)

Many parents worry that potty training early can be harmful. They’ve heard potty “experts” warn that early training causes behavioral problems or personality disorders. It’s therefore surprising to discover that these worries are completely and utterly misplaced.

The widespread belief that early potty training causes psychological or behavioral problems is not supported by any evidence.

There are actually a lot of benefits to potty training early (~1 year old):

  • Potty-trained children avoid diaper rash and diaper-related infections—like yeast, giardia and rotavirus.
  • Parents save money and time on diapering, and have more flexibility when searching for preschools.
  • Kids learn how to sit for longer amounts of time, which develops their self control (improving intelligence and behavior)
    • They are also more sedentary and have not mastered and fallen in love with RUNNING!

Drawbacks of Waiting to Potty Train

Older children (2yrs+) have spent more of their lives wearing diapers. As a result, they:

  • have learned to ignore body signals and must relearn them
  • have become used to wearing soiled diapers and may resist change
  • are more independent and more likely to test your authority
  • have more odiferous urine, making their accidents less pleasant to clean
  • are more likely to want to play versus sit down

Does timing matter?

The quick and easy answer is, not really. Let’s face it… your kids are going to get potty trained at some point (let’s hope). But it is MUCH MUCH easier to potty train a younger child. Your choice of ‘when you potty train’ is unlikely to cause any long-lasting behavior/physiological/psychological problems. It’s the ‘how you potty train’ you have to pay special attention to!

So tell me… for those of you that know you should be potty training but aren’t:

What are the “invisible parenting scripts” you tell yourself that keep you from potty training?