Potty Training = Parent Training

Over the past couple weeks I have had a number of friends begin their potty training adventures. Going to the bathroom in a toilet is a big milestone in development and being a successful person in general. In writing about potty training I want to make it clear that I am not an expert. I'm not much of a research mom and I haven't read any books on the topic. So far I have potty trained two kids and my insights are solely from my own experience.

When we potty trained Rock he was a couple months past the age of two. We wanted to try a bit early because a baby sister was on the way and we wanted to give Rock enough time to adjust to going to the bathroom before a new baby arrived. Phil was touring full-time back then, so we found three days in a row that Phil would be home to do a type of potty boot camp as a family. The first day we put Rock in his new briefs and put him on the toilet every 15 minutes. There were cheers of excitement, treats, songs, dancing, etc. just for sitting on the potty. Phil is a master of all things fun and he definitely brought his A-game to potty training. Praise. The second day we put Rock on the toilet every 30 minutes and the third day we let him tell us when he needed to go. The whole production was a lot of work, but it yielded pretty great results.

To my surprise and others' irritation Ever basically potty trained herself a couple weeks after she turned two. I was planning to have another big production potty boot camp, but she decided she was ready and refused to go to the bathroom in a diaper.

Besides the way things played out for both of my kids I have learned that the potty training process and desired success had so much more to do with changing my outlook and focus than it was about my toddlers doing a good job or not. The truth is potty training is weird for all parties involved. I don't remember what it was like to not know how to go to the bathroom on the toilet and our kids don't know how to not go to the bathroom in their pants. It's hard to relate. It's hard to be patient. But I learned that if I was willing to pay attention to my kids and their queues things went more smoothly. Being on watch, keeping track of how long it had been since junior or little miss went potty, being aware of how much the kids were drinking, knowing or asking where the bathroom is at each and every public place, pulling the car over to go to the bathroom in a training toilet kept in the trunk or the nearest construction zone porta potty (it's happened more than I like to admit), is EXHAUSTING. Potty training takes a whole new level of awareness for already vigilant parents.

Things do get easier as the littles learn to "hold it" a little longer and pull their own pants down. It's a process that deserves time and patience and break downs along the way. As much as people put an emphasis on children showing signs that they are ready to train, I think having parents who are equally as ready for the challenge is of upmost importance. It's a team effort that doesn't produce a cookie cutter result. Our kids need us to look them in the eye whether we're so proud or disappointed on potty results and tell them they matter and we're in this together. I don't think there's anything wrong with waiting to train a little later so that you, as the mom or dad, are in a stable place to be present in the training process.

There are so many transitions as our kids grow and sometimes it's hard to adjust, but I found potty training much easier when I realized I had to do my best to be a major player in the training process and not just expect my kids to "get it."


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