I sincerely thought potty training would break me. The crying, cleaning, and frustration pushed me to the fringes of parenting sanity. I was on the brink of giving up when the skies parted and bathed me in a soft stream of sunlight as my son decided that he was one hundred percent ready to use the toilet forever. It was exactly like that. I wanted to run through the streets screaming “no more diapers! no more cleaning out the potty! I’m free!”.
It sounds dramatic unless you’ve been there. As someone who’s recently been in the potty training trenches I can tell you that it will get downright scary at times. I promise. However there are a few things to keep in mind before and during the process that might save your sanity.
Easier said than done but potty training will be a less painful experience if you can prepare yourself for the inevitable setbacks you’ll encounter. As difficult as potty training seems for you as a parent its many times more challenging for children. They might be confused by the transition. Your child might be fearful of the sights and sounds associated with the toilet. There’s no way to know in advance which part of the process your child will find most troublesome but there will be something. Know that, be patient, and follow your child’s lead. Pushing your child into something he or she isn’t ready for will lead to disaster.
Perfect your poker face.
DO NOT show anger, frustration, or disappointment when the inevitable occurs. There will be accidents. The key is to clean up as if nothing happened. You don’t want your child to feel ashamed, hurt, or disappointed because of your actions. Accidents are not malicious attempts to make you insane, even though at times it may feel this way. Those feelings and accidents are a natural part of the process. Work on your poker face and suppress those feelings until you’re out of your child’s line of sight.
There’s no one size fits all approach to potty training. Some kids like to sit on child sized potties some don’t. Some kids are afraid to flush the toilet and others love doing it themselves. Experiment with the potty. Involve your child in the process. Make shopping together for a potty or child sized toilet seat a fun experience. My son was psyched when we bought a comfy Thomas the Tank Engine seat together for use in public restrooms. It increased his confidence and enthusiasm for using the toilet in bathrooms outside the home and soon he didn’t need it at all. Try different things and keep the faith. You will get there just don’t lose your mind in the process.
Do you have an potty training secrets?
Words By: Veronica Armstrong
Veronica Armstrong is a photographer, blogger, and freelance writer whose stories spring from the cinderblock walls of her married graduate student apartment. You can find her on Google+ or see more of her writing and photography on her blog.