This article, The Dangers of Early Potty Training arrived in my inbox today.  At first I thought my head might explode but then I chilled out and really read it and then I read the comments and there were many which echo my feelings. A pediatric urologist has determined that "early potty training", which he says is any time before the age of 3 is more likely to cause chronic toileting problems. The information is good to know and I'm thrilled he's found a real solution to a potential problem.

However:

There are many flaws here:

He's only based this opinion through anedoctal evidence in his own practice. Which is to say, children who have such severe issues, they need to go to a pediatric urologist.  But one can not take that and extrapolate this into ALL "early" potty training. That'd be like an orthopedic doctor saying that all his clients who come to him with a broken bone have fallen. Therefore: children should never be allowed to fall. Or attempt anything that might make them fall.

One of my favorite comments was this:

@ Dr. Hodges: I would love to see a study like the one you mentioned, but I'm a little puzzled by your description. My understanding is that a proper scientific study requires all variables to be controlled except one. Yet your proposal has three different systems being used ( EC, early and late potty training) but only one using measures to avoid constipation. Wouldn't correct use of the scientific method require all groups using these measures? Otherwise, how could you tell if the differences could be attributed to differences in potty methods or differences in constipation control measures? That's like trying three different diets and only prescribing exercise with the third, then proclaiming the third diet best. Didi I read it wrong or did you really just propose a study that blatantly favors your own hypothesis even in the briefest description? Or has the correct method for research studies changed since I went to school?

Don't get me started on him stating "early" potty training as before the age of three...

What is EARLY potty training?

The whole emphasis seems to be that EARLY...as he defines it, before the age of 3, is a relatively new development. In actuality, WAITING until 3 or beyond is the new development. CENTURIES of humans in all different cultures have been toileting their children well before the age of three. Yet, using Dr. Hodges logic we'd have scores of constipated people. I'm not denying constipation happens but his logic is faulty.

He states the horror of this chronic constipation as QUADRUPLING in the last decade. He then goes on to say that most of this all could be avoided by putting a pull-up on the child. And yet...Hmmm...pull-ups are new on the scene...the last decade or so. So, I'm not fully sure how any of this makes sense. He doesn't seem to mention that in the last decade the amount of pure crap that's being marketed to our kids disguised as "food" MAY have something to do with chronic constipation.

Another great comment was:

I think this is a load of bunk. If early potty training causes all these problems then most people in their 30's, and almost everyone in their 40's and 50's and older should have severe problems. The author himself states that hospital visits for constipation have quadrupled in the last decade. How can this possibly be associated with early potty training? The average age of potty training has gone up, not down. Totally illogical. This sounds like something cooked up by the diaper industry, like the advice of Dr Brazilton, who's list of signs of potty readiness are still quoted as gospel in most mainstream parenting sources, even though he was on the payroll for the Pampers company. There's no way I'll ever believe that wrapping a child's bottom in paper and absorbant gel until he's 3 or 4 is a natural or beneficial thing to do. It allows both the child and parent to simply ignore the cues and natural awareness of bodily functions. From my own reading of the original articles cited, the main source of these problems (bedwetting, UTI's, etc) is constipation. Any association with early potty training is purely the author's speculation. Proper diet, exercise and bowel health is the solution, not preventing children from developing bladder and bowel control long past the time when they're ready.

He suggests you find another preschool if your's demands a potty trained kid.

Another comment:

"So, if you are training your 2-year-old because the preschool you’ve chosen requires children to be potty trained by 3, I suggest you find another school." It must be nice to have the priviledge to choose a daycare not based on cost, proximity or avalablity but on your opnion about their diaper policy (a policy that is frankly shared by many daycares/pre-schools). . Most working families do not have so many choices.

I think my biggest complaint was the article gave the idea that somehow potty training is getting your kid to pee and poop on command, when you want them to. YEAH. THAT'D BE KINDA AWESOME.  That potty training somehow screws up their natural urge. I think learning something new and strange environments can certainly create a little performance anxiety....but I'm sure many of you will agree: when the urge hits, the kid goes. Am I right? If kids could consistently HOLD in the urge, we really wouldn't have ACCIDENTS...would we?

There's also a supposition that the body can not naturally do it's job. Potty training is never teaching your child HOW to pee or poop (I wouldn't even know what that would look like!)...it's simply about WHERE your child pees and poops.

The whole article smacked of money/headline grabbing to me. In the myriad of real reasons why a child could get so constipated, to pick on potty training as one of them seems off.  Again, I'm glad there is a real reason behind a real problem. If you are in doubt, please see your doctor.  This seems easy enough to find out...you simply need an x-ray to determine if there's poop accumulation. However, given Dr. Hodges' methods, his "studies" and how very flustered he seems to have gotten deeper into the comments...I have to say, I don't really trust the guy too much.