The book “Oh Crap! Potty Training” has been sitting on my bedside table for weeks. When it comes to potty training my oldest son, I’ve taken procrastination to new depths. I’m not kidding when I tell you it’s been almost a year – a year – since he first showed some interest in the potty and I haven’t potty trained him yet.
There was always something. A trip coming up. School starting. Birthday parties to plan. Other siblings to deal with. A move. The holidays. Another birthday. I’ve let it all go right on past.
My rationale was that I’ve heard other moms say, “Start potty training at 2, finish at 3,” so why not just start at 3 then? Another mom friend waited well after 3 when her preschool required it. Then she just explained to her son that he needed to start using the potty like a big boy – and poof! He basically did it.
I think I’ve been hoping for some kind of poof….and a pass on all the accidents, mess, stress and three-day naked boot camps.
But as my husband likes to kid me and say “those dishes aren’t going to do themselves” or “that blog is not going to write itself,” I know Wade is not going to potty train himself. I can’t keep waiting for some magical sweet spot when it’s supposedly effortless – which I’ve probably already missed anyway. Enough hemming and hawing, it’s time for action. I believe my son is ready. It’s time that I am too.
The best way I know to face fears is to get educated. Crack the book, read, think and make a plan. With this blog as the burr in my saddle, I finally cracked “Oh Crap! Potty Training.” Author Jamie Glowacki has given me motivation to get my mind right and formulate a plan.
Granted, her way is not the only way. A good friend of mine, Jenny Allen, is a licensed professional counselor in Charlotte. She highly recommends the chapter on potty training in the book “Toddler 411.” She points out that it is written by a pediatrician who has a background in child development. (Glowacki is a social worker.) Allen potty trained her own toddler son at 2 ½, and without a lot of fuss, I might add.
“I think the two most important things are to follow your child’s lead,” she says. “And keep in mind the extreme importance of your child’s developmental stage. Potty training is a huge developmental task that can either cause a child to feel a sense of healthy independence or shame. Too much pressure when the child isn’t ready or not enough encouragement can set you up for some tough battles.”
There are plenty of debates over how and when to potty train your child, whether it’s from books, blogs or moms at the park. But what Glowacki reinforced to me in the first 70 pages of her book was that every parent facing this task can use a little psyching up.
Rather than standing over a proverbial three-foot putt convinced we are going to miss, shouldn’t we go into this with a host of readymade positive thoughts to help push out the negative ones? With an assist from “Oh Crap!” here are my six “get psyched” thoughts to remember when the potty training gets tough and the blood pressure starts to rise. Chances are they will be on post-it notes around my house very soon:
- “You don’t hand your child self-esteem. (He or) she develops it by mastering tasks.” Translation: potty training is teaching a skill that will boost your child’s self-esteem.
- The 1 on 1 time potty training requires is precious. How often will I clear my schedule completely and dedicate all of my energy to my child? (Especially since I have two others.) This is a chance to play, talk, interact, and share in his excitement as he learns something new.
- Progress happens in different ways and at different increments for different children. My child will learn in his own special way. Translation: stay positive.
- “Accidents within the first week aren’t accidents, but rather are learning tools.” Translation: patience, Mama.
- This is a chance to practice the power of positive reinforcement as a parent. With success comes a “You did it!” celebration, or even better, a chance to encouraging your child to say, “I did it!”
- In describing how to cheer on your child in the midst of pooping, Glowacki writes: “If he grunts and screws up his face, just grunt along with him.” Translation: Have a sense of humor and remember, nobody else gets this level of intimacy with your child. It’s a gift.