Q: We began toilet training our daughter when she was 21 months old. Within 10 days, she was consistently using the toilet for urinating. The problem is that shes now 23 months old and has had only four successful BMs on the toilet. She has a BM when shes still in bed in the morning or sometime during her nap. When I discover her accident, I simply remind her she needs to go on the toilet. I read your toilet-training book and know about the use of a gate. Do you think I should go in that direction?
A: I should explain to the reader that the gate refers to a child-proof gate that is used to confine a child in the bathroom or whatever room the parents have put the potty. I recommend that a gate be used in conjunction with a potty bell a simple kitchen timer thats set to go off at regular intervals in anticipation of the childs need to use the potty. When the bell goes off, the parents simply remind the child that its time to use the potty. If the child is resistant, then I sometimes but not always recommend that the parents use a gate.
An important caveat: If the child perceives that the gate is being used punitively, then the childs resistance is likely to increase, along with tantrums. For that reason, if a gate is used, the potty should be in a nonthreatening room, like the childs playroom. If the child gets used to being confined to one fairly interesting room from the time he begins moving around on his own, and thats the room in which the potty is placed, the child should cooperate readily in training and it shouldnt take more than a few weeks.
Parental anxiety over toilet training is another killer. If a child senses his parents are overly eager for him to use the toilet, hes likely to put up a fight. The overly eager parent quickly turns into a micromanager, and micromanagement in any context, with any age human, provokes push-back.
So the keys to relatively quick toilet training are a relaxed but authoritative approach, planning, and structure. You obviously did a good job from the outset. If you hadnt, your daughter wouldnt have had such quick success. Shes not afraid of sitting on the potty, so my best guess is that the poop thing is just going to take her a little more time. I dont get the impression that shes resistant; shes just not fully awake when she has to have a BM. In effect, shes still on her infant BM schedule. Within a month or so she will probably transition rather naturally to having her BM at the same time every day, during her waking hours. At that point, youll be able to use the bell as a reminder. As for the gate, in this case I dont think its going to be necessary.
In the meantime, just keep up your patient, positive approach. Its served both of you well so far.