No respect, or, the basics of successful potty training

Happy Wednesday!

FYI: This is the third in my “Kids gone sideways” newsletter series, about how we can get back on track when our kids drive us crazy .
Click here for the first in the series, about the intersection of our own self-worth and our children’s hangry meltdowns, and click here for the story of my second-worst day of potty training ever. And stay tuned for next week’s where I’ll share a critical tool for handling those meltdowns!
“Mom… You’re always making me!”

That’s what 3-year-old Jason said to me one day while he was potty training.

We were at a big family gathering, and he was resistant to the idea of coming to “try” on the potty.

I couldn’t understand why it was such a problem for him – his big brother had been fine with trying!

Why couldn’t he just amiably come to the potty, have a seat, and see if any potty action happened?

This had been going on for weeks, me bringing him to the potty to try, and him being very unhappy about it.

Even if he succeeded at trying, the being made bothered him to no end. He hated that I could assert that kind of authority over him.

At this particular family gathering, I was stressed out. I had these horrible visions of Jason, wetting one of the immaculate dining room chairs – or heaven forbid even the carpet – amidst all these people.

I worried for little Jay’s feelings of embarrassment and humiliation.
But I mostly worried for my OWN feelings of embarrassment and humiliation.

All I could think was, if the worst happened, who would be to blame?
The parent, that’s who.

Hence the “trying.”

This was the first time that Jason had put his frustration into words.
I looked at him – his head in his hands, sitting on the potty, so frustrated – and I realized:

This was me, not giving my child the respect he deserved and needed.

My face flushed scarlet.
I thought only about embarrassment, about humiliation. I’d forgotten all that I learned as a teacher and an expert in child development.

The very first, most basic lesson:
Everyone deserves respect.

The second lesson I’ll share with you here:
Giving that respect makes everything better!

When I was able to say to Jason “I’m sorry, and I’m ready to do this on your terms,” he understood that I was now giving him that respect. He understood that my apology was sincere, and that I was putting him in charge of his own potty training.

Over the next 24 hours he had one pee accident – the last one he ever had.
That feeling of being able to choose when he would go to the potty? That’s what made this work.

He took ownership of his own potty training.
He went when he was ready, when he felt that the pee was ready to come out.

And then my job became cheering him on… It felt much more like when he learned to walk. Rather than feeling like I was his teacher and we were in school, in the worst class imaginable, and he was failing.

Definitely the waiting for him to be ready, and the cheering him on while he successfully used the potty, was the right way to go!

So, these are the basics of successful potty training:

1. Wherever you are in this process, help your child understand that you respect them.
2. Help them take ownership of the potty training – as much as possible, help them go when they are ready, on their own timeline.
3. Celebrate when it goes well!

When it doesn’t go well?
Let’s think on classic behaviorist theory, ignoring what you don’t want to see and moving toward what you do want to see.
This means helping your child not feel “in trouble” when they have an accident.
Instead give lots of praise when it goes well, and say “will be better next time” when it does not go well.

I am diving into LOTS more potty training advice in a free online parenting class tomorrow

Get help with your potty training struggles in the FREE online class I’m teaching tomorrow (Thursday), January 30, 2020 at 1:30 PM EST, where you’ll learn:
– The 3 key steps to successful potty training
– The most common pitfalls to avoid during potty training
– The critical mindset you need to make this process take the least amount of time possible

Click here to sign up for this class (and the replay, in case you can’t be there live but still need the info : )

Thanks for reading!


Keep reading below for What’s up on the podcast/In the Facebook group/in NPC…

Wishing you a wonderful parenting week!

What’s up on the podcast this week:
Our first-ever Parenting News Roundup takes on overmedication of boys, parental burnout, and how to keep up our feelings of self-worth:

What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group this week:
Monday’s Magic Words for Parents is all about how kindness changes everything for the better.
Check it out by clicking here to join our Facebook group!

What’s up in the Ninja Parenting Community:
One mom stands up and asks for help for her four-year-old… And she gets it!

(If you’re not a member yet, but want to become one, click here. Right now you can join for $1 for your whole first month!)

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