Four boys into parenting, I'm convinced that you can't teach a child to go on the potty. Of course, if you've been around awhile, you probably already know that I don't think you can teach a child anything.
You can facilitate a child's learning. You can provide materials and answer questions. You can even show him how something is done. But to say you can teach him something -- which many people seem to define as getting a child to do what you want him to do, when you want him to do it -- seems to ignore the basic fact that the child is part of the equation as well.
I can throw all the information and knowledge in the world at a kid, but if he's not developmentally, emotionally, cognitively or physically ready to receive it, he's not going to "learn" a darn thing.
Long story short, her 3 1/2-year-old son was willing to sit on the potty for his preschool teacher, but not his parents. He liked his big-boy underwear, but wasn't so crazy about using the potty. So he didn't. For 33 whole hours. He ended up in the emergency room.
All is well -- her little guy peed just after the ultrasound technician scanned his bladder -- and his parents have decided to heed his very loud signals. 3 1/2-year-old boy is now back in diapers.
@cfoutz, of course, felt terrible about the whole thing:
During all of this I was a mess of guilt and frustration. I was crying to my mother that I felt so bad but was doing all I could do. There are just no books for a kid like him. The only books that talk about strong-willed kids talk about discipline or just living with them and understanding them. No one talks about the other things, like the weaning off things, toilet learning, sleeping alone, etc. There are no guides for parents like me.
Don't get me wrong: I think there's a time and place for parental advice columns and parenting books and magazines. As parents, we need all the information we can get. But no book, column, article or expert will ever tell you what your child needs. Your child is the only one who can tell you that, and you, as his parent, are uniquely equipped to interpret his needs. Together, you can find the path that takes him exactly where he needs to go.
Your job is to listen.