When my oldest son turned 2, friends and family started to ask me if I was going to start potty training him soon. This being my first child to reach ‘potty-age’, I had never given much thought to the post-diaper era, so I tried to avoid the question as much as I could.

Then months went by…

My son turned 2.5 years old and I started to notice that my friends with kids the same age as my son were already living diaper-free lives. They would frown when my son came to me to request a changing. They would ask why he hadn’t been trained already and even suggested he just use the toilet. They would give me advice, share their own stories and even anecdotes of other people’s kids.

I began to wonder if there was something profoundly wrong with the way I raised my son.

As he turned 3, he still didn’t use the potty.  Again, people asked me questions about why he was still in a diaper. Only this time, I was the one frowning. Little did they know that I spent half the year researching and trying every trick in every book.

Professional potty training techniques, (my son was not impressed) sticker rewards, (he doesn’t like stickers apparently) no-pants no-diaper-training, (he didn’t care, I was the one cleaning up after him), tv-time on the potty (tv yes, potty no) and even candy rewards (he’d rather stop eating than use a potty.

I tried it all. Nothing worked. On the edge of despair and ready to give up, my son’s daycare teacher finally asked if he used a potty at home. I told her the complete story and after I finished, she just shrugged it off and told me to stay patient.  She’d seen it a hundred times before and rushing him would only work the opposite way.

So that’s what I did. I waited.

I simply just asked if he wanted to use the potty when he would mention it.  He always replied “no” and would tell me that he didn’t feel like going.

Until one day…

I asked him out of habit and he said yes!  And he just went.

I felt so proud.  It was then that something hit me. I tried so hard to make him do something he didn’t want to do, it eventually became a “big thing”. It wasn’t until I let it go and gave him time and space, that he was ready for it.  He had to start trusting himself and was capable of doing so only when I started to trust that he would eventually do it.

So here’s the thing:  Of course we want our children to listen to us and do as we say. But sometimes, instead of doing it our own way, why not try their way? Why not try working with them instead of against them. Give them space to think for themselves and give them the freedom to make their own choices.  Trust that our children have the ability to make choices.

And above all, be patient.

I mean, have you ever seen a 16-year old wearing a diaper?
Written By:  Alyssa Demkes, Blogger on yoga, good food, mind & body.  Ashtanga yogi and mother of 2.