The best way to potty train is…

Apparently, nobody actually knows.  Turns out, we need some hard-nosed rigorous social science in the area, but it’s sorely lacking.  Slate’s Melinda Wenner Moyer decided to research the issue thoroughly, and came away with this:

I’ve read studies with titles like “Dry Pants: A Rapid Method of Toilet Training Children,” published in journals with names like Neurourology and Urodynamics. I’ve talked to several developmental pediatricians who have spent their careers studying toilet training. And what I’ve discovered is that, although there’s some good information suggesting when parents should potty train, and studies detailing which kids have an easier or harder time doing it, the how best to potty train part has still been largely unanswered. Why? One report put it this way: “Toilet training for healthy children is not a subject that invokes passion among researchers.”

I get it—cure cancer, or watch kids poop all day? I know what I’d choose. But the net result is that parents are bombarded with “best” techniques that have never been backed by much (if any) science. Worse, much of the research that does exist is hard to decipher. (I still don’t know what it means to “hover within the prompt.”)

Damn.  I was hoping for the answer.  That said, I’ve got three kids potty trained and the fourth really ought to be getting with the program one of these days.  Still, as long as it’s taken with each one, I was hoping for some answers.  My one piece of advice is that why pull-ups have their place, they do not actually help at all in potty training.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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