Pressure to Potty Train 'Earlier and Earlier'


"I think that it can be very confusing for a child in infancy and toddlerhood to be in diapers, and then at some magical age that is picked by the parent, the child has to change all of his or her habits and is now expected to use the toilet, " Rothstein said. "It's very difficult for that child I think emotionally as well as physically to all of a sudden be able to perform this way."

Also growing in popularity: potty training seminars, led by potty training coaches like Tammy Gold.

Gold says she embraces a relaxed approach to potty training, but has seen a steady rise in the number of moms desperate to potty train their children in just 24 hours. "I think that-- parents absolutely make potty training about them. The concerns are definitely the timepiece. They're in a great deal of rush to get this done," said Gold.

One rapid potty training method, called Fast Track, involves moms encouraging their children to drink often-excessive amounts of fluid in a bid to get them to urinate with greater and greater frequency, hopefully on the toilet.

But child psychiatrists, including Ned Hallowell, say the so-called extreme and boot camp methods can do much more harm than good.

"I think a boot camp for potty training is tantamount to child abuse. By pressuring a child, you're setting that child up to be at risk for becoming oppositional, for becoming stubborn, for digging in and it's completely avoidable by allowing a child to train at his or her own pace," said Hallowell.

For better or worse, Leslie Venokur says she caved in to the potty training pressures she was feeling. She trained her 2-year-old Samantha last month, sooner than she'd planned and in part to please preschool directors.

It's meant more stickers for Samantha, and one less source of stress, she says, for her as a mom.

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