It isn't necessarily a parenting failure if your child isn't potty trained by age three. Many moms and pediatric physicians agree that while three is a reasonable target date, all is not lost if your child doesn't hit that bullseye.
"Just like learning to walk, talk, or a ride a bike, it will happen when the toddler is ready, and you can't rush it," says Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann on the Healthy Children website. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the editor-in-chief of the book The Wonder Years: Helping Your Baby and Young Child Successfully Negotiate The Major Developmental Milestones. "As a general rule of thumb, children are developmentally ready to use the potty around the age of 3. However, remember that children develop at different rates and that not all children are ready at the age of 3."
As moms will tell it, this can be especially true of boys.
Just ask the ones who are in the potty training trenches. Joy B. recently shared on Circle of Moms that her 3 year-old son has no interest in giving up his diapers: "My son is 3 (he'll be 4 in October) and still flat out refuses to go on the toilet. He'll sit on it, read on it, sing and say his ABC's on it but he won't go," she shares. "My niece was trained by the time she was 2 but my nephews....one was 4 and the other was 4 and a half, so I think with boys in general, they take longer to learn."
Courtney C. tells a similar story: "My son is 3 and a half, he just recently got consistent with the potty. It'll happen when he's ready and not a moment sooner," she writes.
Amber R. thinks parents just shouldn't feel so much pressure to have a child potty trained by a predetermined age: "For the life of me, I will never understand why there is such pressure to have a kid potty trained by three. I understand that that is the general age, and that it's okay to train when they are three, but only if they are ready and willing at three," she posts in a community for moms of toddlers. "It will come. Don't stress. I have six kids. One trained at almost four, another trained at 21 months. It's fine."
So agrees pediatrician and parenting guru T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., who authored Toilet Training The Brazelton Way and is regularly featured in the New York Times Health Section, where he addresses pediatric medical questions posed by readers.
In his book (excerpted in the Best Nanny Newsletter), Brazelton discussed the importance of getting the child to buy into potty training, explaining, "I would urge that we keep in mind the child's own role in his (or her) toilet training."
In his private practice, Brazelton studied the potty training progress of nearly 1,200 families that were willing to take a "waiting-and-watching" approach, allowing their child to indicate when he or she was ready.
Brazelton says the incidence of constipation (which may be a response to the pressure to potty train before ready) was reduced in younger children, and that when parents followed the child's cue rather than forcing potty compliance, very few (1% ) of the five year-olds studied were still wetting the bed.
Brazelton concludes that it was "more effective to wait until the child showed signs of readiness for toilet training and readiness to feel that it would be his (or her) own achievement."
Making potty training "his own achievement" by using a potty chart is how Regina B. was able to train her son in 2009.
For a while the chart had only a few stickers, but this quickly changed when "he figured out what got him treats like going to McDonalds for lunch or a small toy." And as he did better, she increased the number of stickers (one for each successful visit to the potty) that he had to earn in order to get a treat.
And as Brazleton's research indicated, she reports a natural and peaceful transition out out diapers: "He never seemed to notice that it was taking longer to get one. After a while we just stopped, after he was going potty without even asking to put up a sticker or get a treat."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.