I wish that I could remember the source of a very wise quote I heard a long time ago. For that matter, I wish that I could remember the quote directly! But the gist of the quote is that most normal, healthy children do different things at different times, but by the time they are fix or six years old, most of the “basic stuff” — including toilet training — is taken care of. While different children reach certain early childhood milestones at different times, they all seem to catch up on the “basics” by the time they are ready to enter school (children in the U.S. usually enter school when they are five or six years old; this may vary from the standard in your country).
Take my children as an example. I thought that one of my children (who is now an adult) would never start talking (and as I learned from the movie “Schreck” many years later, the trick isn’t getting them to talk; it’s getting them to shut up…). My youngest — who just turned 19 months old — is already starting to string together sentences even though she still can’t pronounce the words very well (but mommy and daddy understand her “language”).
In much the same way, children will develop the skills and motivation for toilet training at different times. Don’t push it because this will only cause extra stress for you AND the child. One child I know had problems until she was halfway through elementary school because of undue pressure to get her to “perform” long before she was ready, and any major life event, such as moving or going to a new school, could cause a relapse. And as far as I’m concerned, it was the parents’ fault, not the child’s (but I learned…).
We took that into account with my son, who is now almost five years old. We talked to him about it and encouraged him (using the techniques I mentioned in the previous post). Eventually, with lots of loving support and encouragement, HE decided that he was ready. The result? Only a couple of minor accidents and a lot of confidence. Not to mention the new hobby of exploring every public bathroom he finds…
Another thing to keep in mind is that younger children may not know the difference between a diaper and underwear, or even if they do, it may not be important enough to them to remember — especially when they are totally engrossed in play and in “being” a small child. “Am I wearing a diaper or underwear? Oh, well, here goes nothing…”. If they aren’t yet ready to learn and remember the difference, while it may be profitable to do “awareness training”, you’re wasting your time if you’re striving for consistent performance.
Thanks for listening,