Jennifer's 17 month-old son appears to be potty training himself. In fact, there isn't much "training" going on which is causing Jennifer some confusion as to how to proceed. Any advice for her?
Thing is, I'm hesitating to potty train him. He's only 17 months old! He barely speaks in real words!
So my question is: Do I keep letting him train himself and keep him in diapers for the most part or go into full on potty training mode? Is there an in between?
I honestly think he'd be receptive to training, but I'm worried I'm being totally unrealistic about his ability to really be potty trained at such a young age. For what it's worth, he's a bright kid, so I think cognitively he's "there." I just can't get past trying to potty train a child who mostly speaks gibberish. (!) This all may be moot if he potty trains himself, I realize.
Thanks for any helpful advice!
Isn't it amazing how different kids can be?
I remember something my husband said when one of my kids was doing something way off the normal developmental schedule: "The thing is, no one told the kid the schedule." The point is that every kid's internal clock and style of learning really do go at their own rates and in their own directions.
While I didn't have the experience with potty training Jennifer is having, I have gone through other developmental variations in my kids (that's putting it lightly). Looking back, things seemed to work best when I followed their lead rather than trying to direct too much.
So my gut says that since the little guy is into it and appears to be ready, why not show him more? It's not as if potty training needs to be "complete" on any sort of schedule, so progression doesn't need to go in a neat straight line.
It call all be very low key. Perhaps teaching him the words for "potty" and "diaper" (he probably understands more language than he can express) so you can begin talking about it as he goes along?
It may also help to know that in different cultures, potty training begins MUCH earlier. Many years ago I was visiting India, and my cousin's son had just turned one. They would keep him diaperless as he toddled around the house and then run him to the potty when he was ready to go. (It helped that the house had stone floors so the inevitable cleanups were a nonissue.)
It was the most normal thing in the world, and he potty trained soon thereafter. I didn't have kids at the time so didn't pay attention to the details, but now I wish I had.
Please pitch in with your experiences. Who else has a kid who potty trained relatively early? Or for whom "following their lead" made sense? How did you proceed?
Jennifer: you might check out the many, many potty training tips we've got in the archives as well. Lots of great advice in the hacks and in the comments. Also, there are a bunch of encouraging comments about early potty training on the Facebook page.