Stress-Free Potty Training by Sara Au and Peter Stavinoha, Ph.D.

Stress-Free-Potty-TrainingA potty-training guide that helps parents tailor their methods to their child’s personality types.

I’ll admit that I’m probably not the best person to give an impartial review of this book.  The potty training philosophy advocated by this book goes against my personal ideas about the subject, which I have come by from reading extensively about natural infant hygiene (elimination communication) and the work of John Rosemond.

Stress-Free Potty Training suggests that potty training can be made simpler and (of course) less stressful by understanding your child’s temperament and following their suggestions to construct a plan based on that temperament.  The authors have even included a nifty quiz, just in case you don’t know your child that well (insert eye roll here).

I have two major problems with this book.  The first is the “readiness” model it employs: the idea that a child should not begin potty training until he/she shows certain signs of readiness.  Failure to wait until this readiness point allegedly leads to severe psychological consequences.  Said readiness rarely presents prior to the age of 2 1/2.  So, most of the population born before T. Berry Brazelton’s work changed the face of potty training has severe psychological trauma?  My husband was completely potty trained by age 2.  I assure you he’s fine.

My other issue with this book is the chart from a study on potty training that the authors use to justify their position on beginning potty training at least after the age of 2 1/2.  The chart lists the median age at which children master a list of potty training skills.  The first skills begin at age 22 months. The skills listed include staying poop free at night, which my son did well before his first birthday. The authors suggest that parents use this timeline to determine when to move through each state of the process.  This is a clear misuse of the chart.  The authors fail to acknowledge the flaw in their reasoning, which is that they assume that the timeline is appropriate.  They do not provide details on how the study was conducted.  Did the parents of the children in the study even begin introducing such things as potty words prior to 22 months?  Such questions negate the value of the chart as a potty training guide.

My son is 18 months old, wears underwear except at night, and is 80% accident free during the day, including naps.  I used no force or coercion of any kind, and he enjoys not peeing and pooping in his pants (he gets very upset if he has a poop accident, which has happened only twice in the month since he started wearing underwear).  Save yourself some grief and stress and get yourself a copy of Toilet Training Without Tantrums by John Rosemond and get your little one out of diapers within the potty training sweet spot of 18-24 months.

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