Potty Training My First vs. Third Child: the Bad and the Ugly


Potty Training: First vs. Third Child

When we successfully used “boot camp” to potty train my daughter at just over 2 1/2 years old, I was pretty sure I was the official Potty Expert. It wasn’t like she was 17 months or anything, but waiting until she was ready got the job done in just three days! I even wrote a post about it on my blog with all my expert tricks and tips.

So we were sure it would go just as smoothly for our second child, even though he was a boy. Sure, everyone said it was much more difficult. But they were not Potty Experts! Obviously.


We waited. And waited. And finally, after David turned three, we deemed it Go Time. Yes, the first few days would be murder, but he would get it. Right?

Well, five days later I was more than ready to throw in the towel. My husband insisted on keeping it up, sitting our sonĀ on the baby potty every twenty minutes. (FOR FIVE DAYS, PEOPLE.) And while the rest of our crew was at church, Daddy helped David at least figure out how to release his urine into the toilet. Success! Maybe?

Two weeks later, I watched my little man sit three feet from the potty and go on the couch instead. He did not care. I could make him sit on the potty, but I could not make him care. After some frustrating conversations, I decided to go back to diapers. Maybe he would be ready sometime. Before he was 23.

And yes, a few months later, he was. It definitely took sweat, grump, and spending way more money on rewards than I would have liked, but he learned to use the potty. At 3 years, 4 months old.

This is possibly when I realized that I was no Potty Expert, and maybe boys WERE harder than girls.

Crazy Toddler

Enter Third Child, also a boy. Surely by now I deserve one child who will wake up and decide to potty-train himself or herself, right? Well, so far it’s not looking likely. Joshua is just as willful as his brother and sister, with an extra dose of wild on the side. Unlike my other kids, he has actually gone through periods of being interested in the potty. He knows how to release urine and go #2. Again, it’s a question of whether he wants to do this thing.

My mom was in town a few weeks ago, and with the right rewards we had him going pretty consistently. And then she left, and he woke up and said, “I don’t want to potty.”

“Joshua, are you a big boy?”


“Do you want to wear diapers?”


“Don’t you want to go to preschool?”


Aren’t almost-3-year-olds fun? And you know what? Parents of three children are too dang tired to potty train, anyway. I am way past the time when I was in my twenties and I thought I knew things. Now I know that I know nothing when it comes to parenting. We are all doing this for the first time; even with multiple children, nothing is ever the same with subsequent offspring. They are different enough that it feels like being back at square one each and every time we face an obstacle.

So, I wait. We still have six months until he needs to be potty-trained to start preschool. Surely sometime before then he’ll decide to be ready. Right?

(Please say right. Please?)

Potty photo credit: powerbooktrance via Flickr.


  1. G took to potty training like a champ. P still decides what days he wants to be potty trained all day. I threatened to put him back in diapers, which would mean he couldn’t go to preschool. His response was, “I don’t poop my pants at school.” Of course then he couldn’t or wouldn’t say why he did it at home randomly. Boys. They are impossible to reason with.

  2. My daughter just turned three. She is mostly potty trained, but if I have a pull up on she still pees and poops in it. She just doesn t care. If I have panties in she will use the bathroom. With my next one I am definitely going to try not to stress so much!

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