When Does Potty Training End?

potty trainingThe other morning my wife and I discussed our daughter’s potty training, particularly whether or not she should wear a different type of diaper while sleeping at night. My daughter is four and we have been potty training her – in some way or another – for nearly half her life at this point.

It got me to wondering if potty training would ever end, especially since my wife and I will soon decide when to start training our two-year-old son.

When my son is fully potty trained – including at night time – it is likely my wife, and I will have spent more than five years with potty training in its various phases. That is a long time and underscores the long-term fight that potty training can be.

Ready for the Daytime

There was a feeling for me that potty training would resemble my daughter’s other milestones. Once she began walking, for instance, we never had to worry if she would one day forget how to walk. It was something she learned, mastered, and then we could move on to the next milestone.

Potty training seems a little different. While my daughter took a few months to master potty training during the day, we still must constantly reinforce this skill. We ask her if she has to go to the bathroom whenever we are about to leave the house, when we put her down to sleep, and even during the day if it has been awhile since she last went.

That has now extended into the night where all three of us want her to make it through the night without a diaper. Unlike other actions, it seems like the need to continually potty train exists longer than other activities. If you are like us and have more than one child, it is likely potty training can extend for several years as you move from child to child.

Planning Ahead

My wife and I have tried to take a patient approach. We understand potty training is a long process. With both of my children, I feel like I will not stop worrying about their need to use the bathroom until they can sleep through the night for a month or more without an accident. Even then, there will likely be constant reminders to use the bathroom before bed and to get up when they feel the urge to go.

I say all this as a way to prepare. I felt that once my children were potty trained during the day, then I could simply ignore it. That has not been the case. Potty training is a long-term need, one that doesn’t stop even after milestones are met. It is something that my wife and I will need to continue to teach our children for years and years.

It is more than I expected, but something we are ready to handle. Potty training takes planning, effort, patience, and as we’ve learned, above all else, time.

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David Stegon

David Stegon is a writer, editor, and father of two based in Virginia. He has written for traditional and digital publications for the past 13 years. David holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Temple University and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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