Don't Fall For These 5 Potty Training Myths (Like I Did)

by Meredith Overbeek
Originally Published: 
potty training
HKPNC / iStock

Goals. Aspirations. Dreams. Prestige. Fantasy. Fiction. Joke. Megaflop. Debacle.

This is the journey to potty training.

I was all, hey, he’s a smart kid. At 23 months, no way he’s not getting this. No way I’m not getting this out of him. Two kids in diapers? No ma’am, not at this house. My oldest is moving up and out!


Turns out that your kid being “smart” has nothing to do with learning to direct one’s stream into the pot. Fast-forward three days, and I’ve had enough of the indoor water park. No success. No semi-victory. Nothing. It would appear by all accounts that my son is not going to get it.

At first I feel like a failure for giving up, but three days…that’s a lot of me wiping pee off the floor. I swallow the defeat and say we’ll just wait and try again “later” when he’s “ready,” because eventually he’ll show the “signs” of being “ready” and then it will “happen.”

Check the steps in the potty training journey outline above. This is our stop at “fiction.”

Funny thing, it appears that the signs can be faked. All of them. Don’t believe me? You will.

Consider these five highly circulated myths of potty training:

1. When he’s ready, he won’t want to be in a dirty diaper.

My kid has been telling me about his bodily functions for months.

“Mommy, there’s pee in my diaper,” he sings from the backseat.

“That’s OK, buddy. That’s what the diaper is for. You know, you’re getting pretty big. I think soon it’s going to be time for you to wear big boy underwear!” I try to seize the moment. He senses my attempt to manipulate.

“Yeah…but I’m still small.” Overruled.

Bottom line: My kid knows what’s in his diaper, and he couldn’t care less. Or, more accurately, he couldn’t care less that he’s in his diaper with it.

2. When he’s ready, he’ll start showing an interest in the toilet.

I’ve got to wonder what kid isn’t interested in the toilet. The mysterious phenomenon that is the flush, the little pool of water right at their level, the wonder of seeing their very first previously prized possession bobbing along the surface before taking that fast swirl into the Great Tank in the sky — it’s a true feat of engineering and toddler fascination.

My son will even deign to grace the throne when he feels like it. He’ll sit there, demand another reading of a Pirate Pete’s Potty adventure, and proceed to do absolutely nothing but “toot.” It’s like he thinks that counts.

3. When he’s ready, he’ll be interested in his parents’ toilet habits.

Is there a mom or dad among us who’s john time isn’t a main event? What were once sacred moments of solitude are now worthy of an audience, regardless of what business is going down.

There’s no question that kids are curious about what their parents do in the bathroom. My husband has had more than one little head suddenly poke through his legs in the loo. But supposing that their interest reveals a subconscious and nonverbal assent to a lifelong commitment of diaperless-ness is all kinds of hooey.

4. When he’s ready, he’ll be interested in underwear.


My kid knows there are some super awesome Spider-Man undies waiting for him in his closet. He’ll talk about them, ask to see them even, but the allure ends there.

He knows Daddy and Mommy and Grandad and Grandma and the “other grandma” and Papa and Wyatt and Graham and Ellie and most other people in his life wear big kid underwear. He’s very happy for their accomplishment. Good job, guys. Wait, what’s that smell? Oh, right, it’s my kid’s diaper.

5. When he’s ready, it will be easy!

We’ve all read the promises of how potty training can be achieved in as little as three days (if you happen to catch your kid in that rare moment of utter compliance). To make matters worse, we’ve also got that one friend-whom-favor-fortunes with the story of how their child just put on underwear one day and never looked back.

Lucky for you, fellow mom of the Untrained, I can’t dispel this one. I’ll only say, though, that if the track record for the other potty training truisms are any indication, it probably won’t be your story.

Just…don’t get your hopes up.

Potty training is one of those rites of passage in parenthood, I get it. But besides saving hundreds of dollars and having our child meet that lofty goal of bathroom self-sufficiency — the one that equals them wiping their own — really, what’s the rush?

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