To Potty Train, or Not to Potty Train. That is the Question.

There was a moment last week. A small, tiny, infinitesimal moment where I wondered:

How young is too young to start potty training?

As mentioned in the Top 5 Skills Mastered by Lil Diva at 17 Months post, Lil Diva will plop for me – and only me as it turns out – onto the changing pad to have toxic waste removed.

One day she repeatedly plopped and rolled onto the changing pad without any prompting. I thought she might be trying to tell me she needed a change, but she was completely dry.

For two minutes.

Then her typical “cop-a-squat-and-grunt” routine went into play and voilà: One filled diaper.

At 17 months old, she tried to show me, “Mommy, I have to poop.” 

"Just because my vocabulary hasn't exploded yet, doesn't mean I can't show you what I mean."

I was in shock.


In awe.

The idea that a child before the age of 18 months not only knows when “shit happens” but is willing to inform their parent and not run, not hide in a corner, and only emerge when coated in their feces – it blows my mind.

If you check any potty training tag for my blog, you will see why: The Tackler was A Hider. During almost nine months of potty training, I think he deposited excrement in the potty about five times.

Instead, he would wait. Patiently. Plotting. Then, when I dared turn my back to care for his sister, put him down for a nap, or take him to anywhere with a hiding spot cloaking him from my view – he would let it drop. In the pull-up. In the underwear. In the diaper. He didn’t discriminate.

He just required privacy.

Then one day the sun came out, something clicked, and he began using the potty and not his pants – months after grasping the concept of peeing in potty.

He still demands privacy. Now that I’m fairly certain he won’t use crap for graffiti purposes, I’m more than happy to give it to him.

But this glimpse of a child – my Lil Diva – whose first instinct is not to run and hide – it’s like discovering the ending to your favorite movie was incorrect then switching it with the new “special edition” copy – it’s wrong simply because it contradicts everything you were taught to believe.

So I wonder. Was it a sleep deprived day dream? Did I imagine her signals?

I wait. Will she ever do that again, or will she return to her previous ways and cease all diaper changing cooperation?

I dream. I fantasize that my Lil Diva will prove to be different in the Potty Training Arena and out of diapers by age two.

I ask you, dear readers. Do I dare attempt potty training at this age? Is it worth the hassle on a child who only speaks about ten words and is very likely to instigate NAKED TIME if taught how to pull down her pants? What skills should she have before starting?

I’m running the gauntlet blindfolded here – my son three years old before he displayed any sign of potty training interest: i.e. the bribery prizes won out over diaper convenience.

Any advice, tips, tricks, hints, or “beware of” information is greatly appreciated from those who have “been there, done that, don’t care to ever do that again.”

Meanwhile, back to my fantasy where she somehow trains herself….

UPDATED 3-13-11 –> Important Potty Training Update here.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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27 Responses to To Potty Train, or Not to Potty Train. That is the Question.

  1. Jaime says:

    Remember, She is a girl. Noelle was PT by 22 mo and at night too! Don’t miss your window!!! Keep your eyes open for her clues!

  2. Katie says:

    Albert’s niece started showing distinct signs of moving towards potty training by 18 months, and there’s a girl in Jake’s class at PDO who is almost completely potty-trained at about 22 months. Jake, while he will lay down and cooperate with diaper changes, often poops at the dinner (or lunch) table and then goes on with his meal. I think girls are just different, and much more likely than boys to potty train early. Lil Diva will likely not wait until she’s 3 before being ready to potty train (though 17 months may still be a little young to start). Count your blessings!

  3. Jump on it sister! My almost 3 year old starting showing interest around her 2nd birthday and we totally missed our window. Now we’re scrambling to get her PT’d before her little brother joins us.

  4. Dianne says:

    You may be happily surprised. My 17 month old daughter goes pee in her little potty almost every night after her bath. She has twice in the last week given me the sign for potty, I have put her on it and she went. I am not getting my hopes up that she will potty train anytime soon but am excited that it looks like it might happen a lot sooner than her brothers. I have little IKEA potty’s in almost every room of the house so she can feel free to use them as she wants. My plan in when the weather turns hot, she will have naked time whenever we are home and maybe be potty trained this summer. The advantage of them doing it at this young age is that it becomes a life skill rather than doing it for mommy. They probably won’t need rewards and such because they are doing it for themselves. By the way, have missed seeing you at the monthly meetings!

    • Wow! You’re making good progress.

      Alas, the potty chair scares her when she’s naked – but nothing else does..

      I’ve missed you too. We were out of town for two, and then I never saw what topic was of the last one so I didn’t go.

  5. Rebekah C says:

    Go for it. Kids know when the have to go in the same way they know when they are hungry. Your little one seems interested in being that master of that process so why not help her out? It’s like when they learn how to walk…we hold their hands and help em out when they’re interested and when they’re not, we don’t drag them along, right? If she’s interested, awesome. If she’s not, she’ll let you know!

  6. Phyllis says:

    If she’s giving you signals, I say full speed ahead! Every child is different. Mine were late, late, LATE trainers, especially my son. It used to drive me mad because I had friends whose babes were trained at 18 months. So yeah, it can be done. One can’t force it, but if the kid shows she’s ready, woot!

  7. Stephanie says:

    All kids are different, and I’ve been told its harder to train boys. Apparently I was trained at 18 months. Obviously I don’t remember it! Anna started at 17 or 18 months, but was still over two when she was fully trained. Both my boys were about 2 1/2 when the finished training. Of course I did the 4 day $90 marathon training with them. The money was for the carpet cleaner at the end of the 4 days. LOL! Actually I don’t think they had accidents. When they are running naked and the potty is right there in the living room with them, they just seem to use it.

    As for your lil Diva pulling off her clothes and running naked, that’s inevitable anyway. 😉

  8. angela says:

    All kids are different! Abbey was interested earlier, but I waited until after I had Dylan (23 months). My friend had both of her daughters trained by 18 months. I think if you are willing to deal with some accidents, maybe let her try picking out some underwear?

    • It’s an interesting idea – once she no longer views the potty seat as a torture device (see today’s “Mommy Got Back”)..

      I think at this point, she’d try to eat her underwear or wear it on her head.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Go for it…if you think she is ready! I waited until my daughter was 2 1/2 and did it over 1 weekend b/c she was VERY ready. It was easy. Now my 23 mo old son? He rubs shit everywhere after he digs into his diaper, but I don’t think he is even close to being ready! Every kid is different!

  10. Mimi says:

    Since early infancy you hated being wet or dirty and cried to be changed. Potty training began with you around 18 months as you had extremely good verbal skills and vocalized that you wanted to sit on the potty. Since you were pretty regular, we began. Go gently because if you push too hard, a setback might just happen due to her stubbornness if she doesn’t want to comply at a particular moment. Good luck! Be alert, diligent & patient and she will be potty trained in no time – probably before 2 years of age.

    • Thank you mother, for telling everyone about my potty training. :p

      I suppose I’m fair game – given your grandchildren might be therapy with their Poopapalooza’s plastered over the internet.

      So far, she isn’t a fan.

      And yes, she’s very stubborn. 🙂

  11. Jess says:

    Maybe you’re being rewarded for what you had to endure before? 😉

  12. Yuliya says:

    I would check out these wacky folks 🙂

  13. Lizz says:

    If she’s giving you clues like that, then I’d go for it!
    Max will be 3 next month and only occasionally tells us he has to use the potty… and I don’t think he has ANY concept of peeing on it; just poop

  14. Marjorie says:

    I’d say it depends on how much time and attention you are wanting to give the process. I have freshly-two-year old who has been acting “ready” since just before Christmas, but I know from my two other early learners how much I need to give… and I’m not ready! Lol

  15. Jessica says:

    I would think that it would take a lot of work to potty train a child at 17 months but then again I have never tried it that young so I really have no idea. My kid is 22 months and she is starting to tell me that her diaper is full. I think it is time for me to start looking into this whole potty training thing for her. I was lucky with my first kid and her babysitter potty trained her but now it’s my turn with my second child. If you figure out some secret to this whole potty training thing please let me know.

  16. Leighann says:

    Mine is only 11 momtgs old so I clearly have no advice for you. However, I am enjoying learning as YOU go.

  17. Carri says:

    My son just turned two and I wish he’d say something like that to me! Girls are just different, I think. You’d think boys would be just as easy since they love to run naked and wild anyway…. Sigh… I’m not looking forward to this potty training business. Good luck with yours!

  18. I have no answer. Potty training my first did not bring out the best mommy in me. She was the most passive agressive child to potty train! What a battle it was! It was a battle I learned should not have been a battle. I was considerably more patient with my second and let it happen when she was ready. I have heard so many stories about kids being potty trained at 18months, but never met any in person. My only suggestion would be to let her run the show at her age. If she wants to she gets to. If it becomes VERY consistent then maybe it is time to try. I do know, myself included, several girls friends who have had kids act like they are ready at 18mths and then it be a failure. I’m not helping. I guess I would just set up an easy routine for her to see if she is really all in. Like trying the potty at every diaper change or before or after every meal or before nap / bed. The bottom line is… you know her best! Go with what feels right to you. If it doesn’t go well you can always start over and try a different way! Good luck! – Laverne

  19. Pingback: Sunday Morning Surprise – The Commencing of Operation Potty Training: Round 2 | Dances with Chaos

  20. Sarah says:

    I’d definitely get crackin’. There’s this “golden age”… where they grasp following directions around 18 months and aren’t at the “I’ll say NO! to anything you say” stage around 2… and if you can get them into the Using The Potty GAME, it’s a piece of cake. Waiting until after 2 is a nightmare that will last until they’re 3 or longer. I know that from experience. My #1 kid (boy) took almost 18 months, I didn’t start until he was 2.5. Kid #2 (girl) took a month or so, I started at 18 months. Kid #3 and 4 (both boys) took less than a month for pee and 3 months for poop, and I started them right around 18 months. Hope that’s helpful info!

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