Q. I’ve been a full-time nanny for six years and have run out of potty-training ideas.
I care for three boys — a 6-year-old and a set of 3-year-old twins — but their parents can’t toilet train one of the twins and neither can I. Although he pees in the toilet, he waits as long as two to three days for the house to get real noisy and then he sneaks away and poops in his underpants. Apparently he hopes that no one will notice what he’s done, but then he quickly tells us about it because he wants to be changed right away.
I don’t know why he won’t use the potty. His parents have never punished him or treated him badly when he’s had an accident, and neither have I. We may act disappointed and say things like, “Oh, I wish you had used the toilet,” or “Ask me when you want to go,” or “What can I do to help you?” We’re very patient with him, too. We also give him rewards and bribes for using the potty, including favorite foods, new toys, a trip to the zoo — the usuals. He seems interested at first and says that he will try to use the potty, but he never tells us when he has to go.
Are there any tricks that might encourage him to use the potty?
A. You’re counting your calamities too soon. Very few children wear diapers to their senior prom.
In fact, most children are trained between the ages of 1 and 4, depending on the meshing of their bodies, their minds, their temperaments and maybe their birth order, too. The youngest child in a family often trains quickly, particularly if he’s a sanguine person who likes to imitate his older siblings. A firstborn usually won’t sit on the potty for quite a while; he’s too cautious for that.