Let's face it, potty training gets a bad rap. It’s a stage that all parents have to go through, but it is the one that most parents do not even want to think about when they discover they are expecting a baby. So there is very little preparation for it. In fact there is more dread associated with potty training than anything else in the early years of parenting.
Potty training doesn’t get it’s own page in the baby book, or a celebratory smash cake. But every parent we encounter has a story to tell, a visceral memory about the experience of potty training their child, no matter whether they recently potty trained a child, or the event took place decades ago,
One of the reasons this moment stays with us is that potty training is one of the first life lessons that we teach to our children, and it comes at a time when we are just learning how to parent.We would be foolish to think that we can turn potty training into a beloved event with just one blog post. However, we do believe that we can change your mindset by helping you understand the process on a deeper level.
Potty training is your child's first biology lesson. As they learn about how their bodies work, little ones also take cues from you about how to pay attention to, care for, and respect their bodies. During potty training, toddlers will explore the feelings that they have ignored up to this point (a full bladder, the urge to have a bowel movement), and they will explore what comes out of their bodies. Touching pee and poop is totally normal for a child to do during this phase. Think about the satisfaction you get from squeezing a pimple on your face or plucking a wayward nose hair. It is the same with little ones. So there is no need to be horrified by this behavior or concerned for their health. Consider it a science experiment.
Potty training is often your child’s first experience with failure and shame. Many researchers state that teaching kids to navigate through negative emotions like shame and failure is critical to their emotional development. Assuring a child that accidents are part of learning, that tomorrow is another day, and that you know that they did their best is important. Kids can develop toileting anxiety if potty training becomes too rigid and punitive. Remember that potty training is not about pleasing a parent, but learning a life skill. And it doesn't come quickly for every child. Helping your child cope with their feelings after a potty accident and being graceful when they occur have a greater impact than you realize.
Potty training is often a parents first experience with disappointment and self-doubt as parents. Newborns are pretty adorable. And their poop just doesn’t smell that bad. But our society isn't always kind about a 3 year old in diapers. And a child that continues to have potty accidents can stir up feelings of inadequacy in some parents, and unfortunately, anger in others.
This is why we ask you to "Keep Calm and Potty On." If your child peeing on the floor at Target is the worst thing that happens in your day then you are doing all right!
Finally, potty training is about letting go, both literally and figuratively. Your child has to learn to relax and release their muscles to eliminate. And they have to be OK with watching what they feel are vital parts of their body, get flushed away into the great unknown. Meanwhile parents need to let their children step into their next phase of independence. Once your child is potty trained, you won't be meeting each other's gaze at the changing table, sharing giggles and fun songs during diapering time. This is a real moment of emotional separation. But different is not the same as bad. Parents should embrace this new moment, and create other opportunities to connect with their kids. Because the truth is that with each day, our children naturally take one more step away from us and towards the big wide world. As the famous song goes:
"Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door"
Well don't slam the door. Just close it gently, and watch as your child succeeds and you both (maybe) learn to love potty training.
Visit a past blog entry to learn about 3 Potty Training Mistakes to Avoid, and keep your eyes open for the next pee-kaboo reusable potty training sticker™ coaching session. You can be an early bird and sign-up here
Keep Calm And Potty On!