Potty training, gone bad, can create huge problems in families and create stress in the parent-child relationship. When this happens, no one wins. Parents start the process determined they are going to make their child use the potty and some kids are simply not ready. If that happens in your home, please go ahead and put it on hold temporarily. Why, you ask? Potty training will never be a success with that dynamic.
Almost every single time there is a potty issue and it is not a medical issue, there is a determined child and a determined parent involved. This is the worst combination of personalities because power struggles emerge in all their glory. If parents don’t learn how to work with their child’s strong will, not only will we have potty issues, we’ll now have parent-child relationship problems which creates emotional and behavioral problems.
Here is the bottom line. It’s impossible to make someone use the toilet. We can make them sit there, but we cannot make them go. That is absolutely something we cannot control.
Learning to use the potty is a huge developmental task and successful potty training depends on emotional and physical readiness of your child, not chronological age. Some 2 year olds are ready; others have no interest whatsoever.
If kids are ready and if parents have the right mindset, potty training will be fairly easy. Readiness is the key word to consider before beginning the process – both child and parent readiness.
Is your child ready?
All of the following tasks occur naturally in kids, somewhere between 2 and 4 years of age. The more yes’s, the more ready they are.
- Does she understand basic directions and follow them?
- Is she expressing any interest in the potty?
- Does she talk about wanting to wear panties?
- Does she fuss about a wet or dirty diaper?
- Can she stay dry for long periods of time?
- Does she like to please?
- Is she saying or acting like she wants to be more independent?
Are you ready?
If you’re feeling stressed about potty training or feeling overwhelmed with life, it might not be the right time to start. Wait. Keep in mind that teaching your child to use the potty should be as natural as teaching her how to work a puzzle. Can you:
- Be positive
- Use humor
- Understand this is something you cannot control
- Be tolerant and patient when accidents happen
- Start when no other big events or issues are going on
- Block off at least 3 days to be at home and commit to the cause
Potty Training is a Process
- Expect accidents. Many of them. Respond and refrain from reacting. All you need to say is “Accidents happen. Let’s get cleaned up.” To punish, shame or guilt is never effective.
- When you start, it’s panties or underwear all the time, except, of course, naptime or nighttime.
- Never force a child to sit on the potty until she goes. This is seen as punishment. It will blow up in your face.
- Be aware that already anxious and fearful kids sometimes withhold, so watch for constipation.
- The process can’t be rushed.
What if your child is resistant?
Go into this prepared to deal with it. Consider calling a halt…only temporarily though, if you are met with pushback. Continuing to deal with a child that is not receptive will be a considerable drain of your time and energy. What this usually means is that she is not ready. Honestly, the worst thing you can do is to push through and continue. I’ve never, ever seen anything good come out of this scenario.
It’s hard not to feel embarrassed and compare when other kids seemingly have no potty issues and yours is still having accidents. Remember this is your child’s process and one that she needs to be the boss of. Potty training takes time. It WILL happen. She will not go off to college in a pull-up.
When it does, I’d say a potty dance is in order!
There’s Always Hope,
Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more.