Maintaining a Positive Potty Training Perspective

When it comes to potty training, it seems that one of the biggest parental challenges facing parents today often has little to do with the actual process itself. Rather, it involves sifting through all of the potty training tips, tricks, programs and advice out there and figuring out just what to make of it all. Potty seat or toilet seat? Pull-ups or birthday suit? What’s a parent to do (and when should one do it)?

Decades of mastering and subsequently taking for granted our own abilities when it comes to this socially important (and hygienically useful) life skill, it can be a bit difficult for us to remember what works and what doesn’t.  While there are plenty of tips out there, when it comes right down to it, it’s your parental attitude towards potty training that I think is particularly worth focusing on.

For all we know about potty training success – that children are generally ready to be introduced to the task somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 and that kid-friendly equipment can safely facilitate a toddler’s budding independence in the bathroom  – we also know that maintaining a winning attitude is key. To help pave the way for your child’s ultimate potty training success, I suggest keeping the following concepts in mind.

It takes time and patience. Every child reaches developmental milestones at their own pace, and mastering the skills it takes to put your pee and poop in the potty are no exception. While facilitating and encouraging are recommended, forcing the issue before your child is developmentally ready is not.

Potty training is really potty learning.  If you can keep this concept in mind, it will serve you and your student/child particularly well. After all, when put in the context of learning, it just doesn’t seem appropriate to yell or punish a student for not quite mastering a new lesson or concept.

Stay positive. This can be admittedly hard to do when you find yourself scrubbing a soiled carpet or changing pee-soaked clothes. But positive potty training in the form of praise and emphasis on efforts and accomplishments, rather than a focus on messes and failed attempts, is clearly the way to go.

Enlist support. As you prepare your own approach to potty training, don’t forget to enlist the help of any and all of your toddler’s other caregivers. After all, their time, patience and commitment to being positive are an equally important factor in the potty training equation.

And above all else, it really helps to remind yourself that you and your child are (and should always be) on the same team. This can really help a lot, if for no other reason than by keeping the role you play in the context of both potty training and parenting in general in perspective, you are and always will be the most important person on your child’s team, with the ultimate and shared goal of “winning.” This inherently means working together, rather than against each other.  So, what have you done to support the team lately?

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About the Author

Dr. Laura Jana is a pediatrician, Director of Innovation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and award-winning parenting and children’s book author. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan, an MD from Case Western Reserve, and is the founder of Practical Parenting Consulting and Amazing Me Books. She focuses on early childhood, and is a media spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Jana lives in Nebraska with her husband and 3 children.