What You Need To Know About Potty-Training To Set Your Mind at Ease

They will all learn to go Potty. Why you shouldn’t rush it!

by Lauren Millman
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Straight out of the gates, I’ll say it…It’s a right of passage for any toddler, big or small, and for any parent and caregiver too. It’s one of the milestones we, as parents, hope happens soon into toddlerhood, after some of the other auspicious milestones we experience with our little ones. I’ve been through potty-training with my own kids, and funnily enough, I remember it well. I remember sitting there, in the bathroom with child A, B, and C, hoping right along with them that this time, something, anything, comes out and into the toilet, only to be disappointed, again.

Have you ever thought why we long so much and pine so hard for this day to come? I always thought it would be a day I would forever remember and be happy about, but when that day arrived, I came to regret wanting it so much because it meant so many negative things to me. Although it was a huge milestone in my childs’ life, and we were so proud, and wore each of our children’s toilet accomplishments like proud medals on our sleeves, we were sad too. It meant constant runs to the nearest bathroom, constant check-ins, and sudden emergencies in the mall that were more urgent than putting a fire out. It also meant no more uninterrupted visits or outings anywhere thanks to the convenience of having them just “doing it” in their diapers. But bigger and sadder than that, it meant they were growing up. Suddenly, “I’m a big kid now” had a different ring to it, and that tune we so frequently, and still, have in-out heads, no longer seem cute or funny.


A big-kid right-of-passage. So one day it happens, and we have to accept  the fact that they’re growing up. I often have parents in my office asking, “When is my kid going go potty in the potty? We’ve done everything, and we just can’t seem to get her (or him), to go int he toilet.” And this is the answer I give my parent-clients; you can’t lead a horse to drink if he’s not thirsty. We’ve all heard this before, and here’s the fact about potty-training that parents sometimes forget. You simply can’t force it to happen. It’s a brain thing. As with language, we need certain brain connections to happen before the onset of understanding language can happen. Going potty in the toilet is the same thing. It’s going to happen when it happens, and until then, embrace what you’ve got, and enjoy the freedom of poops and tinkles in a diaper.

Now you’re thinking, “I potty-trained, and it worked.” To this, I say, awesome! But it’s a happy coincidence. You picked up on your toddler’s cues of wanting to go potty, and you diligently and excitedly followed your toddler into the bathroom to practice, practice, practice, and then one day, it happened. But it doesn’t happen until the brain is physiologically ready. Once those brain connections have been made, you have success, and it varies from family to family, and kid to kid. It’s a very exciting time for parents and child alike, and I’m often reminding my clients to be patient, and don’t rush it. Take your child’s lead. When they’re ready, they’ll let you know, and that in itself is empowering for your son or daughter.

As a Behaviourist and Parenting Specialist of over 13 years, the best piece of advice I can give you, is stay in chill, follow your childs’ lead, and don’t compare your toddler with your best friends’. There’s no competition here. If your neighbour’s child was potty-trained at two, and yours is almost three and there’s no sign in sight he, or she, is going to ‘go’ in the toilet any time soon, that’s OK. Expectation will make you go stir crazy. Don’t do that to yourself, and certainly don’t do that to your child. The last thing they need is pressure.

You may then potentially have some real issues on your hands down the road, and you may find yourself in my office having to learn how to deal with a stressed or anxious child and that’s a bit more challenging that just waiting for your toddlers’ moment of toilet success. Continue to fill their power and empowerment buckets with praise and positivity. This is one thing that’s out of their control, and out of yours.

Make ‘going’ fun so they’ll want to keep trying without being pressured or made wrong for something they can’t control and you can’t make happen. If happenstance is on your side, well then, lucky you, your timing was perfect! And theirs will be too, when it’s perfect for them. If you need more support, or think you see other challenges heading your way, I’m here. As always.



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