The most unhelpful thing to say when potty training

How many times have you said “do you need to pee?” only to be told “NO!”, even though you know the answer is really a yes? When you get a ‘no’, where does this leave you? What can you do to avoid this trap and help teach your child about consent along the way?

When you give your child the option to say no, chances are they will! Do you need a wee? no. Will you try for mummy? No. Shall we go to the toilet? No.

However you phrase that question, you are always at risk of getting the answer no. And the problem with no is that you are at a dead end! To honour your child’s answer means to ignore what they need. So why ask the question if you already know the answer?

Never ask
Yes! The simple answer is if you don’t want to hear a no, don’t give them no as an option. Instead try:

  • “It’s potty time, let’s go”
  • “Lets get that wee/poo in the potty”
  • “Potty!”

The shorter the direction, the better. No need to complicate things. Giving direction is gently teaching them to do what is necessary. So it’s less about whether it happens or not, but more about how it happens.

I know it seems obvious to say just tell your child it’s time to go potty rather than give them the chance of saying no, so why do parents fall into the trap of doing this? Sometimes simply because they aren’t sure whether they need to go and want that feedback/confirmation from their child. Sometimes because we are so used to asking our children questions instead of directing them to what we as their caregiver can clearly see that they need.

What if they still say no?
At least you didn’t have to override their answer, thus muddying the waters as far as consent goes.  But for children who respond favourably to having a sense of control – you can still offer them choices, just make sure that both choices end in them using the potty. eg:

  • “Would you like to read your book on the potty, or after you go potty?”
  • “Shall I come with you to the potty or do you want to do it by yourself?” (let me know if you need any help!) 

If they still say no to this, you can help your child learn that their choices have consequences (e.g. an accident!) and that has its own sequence (“let’s clean this up. Get it in the potty next time please!)

Be confident
The key is to know when it’s time to direct your child. You need to put in the time to learn your child’s signals or timing in order to be sure that when you tell them it’s time to go potty, you’re right. Every successful potty catch helps them to build their body awareness so that they can self-initiate and be closer to the end goal of achieving toilet independence.

We can help give you that confidence. Check out our amazing potty learning courses.

It’s about consent
We teach our children about consent by modelling it to them in all aspects of everyday life from birth. As your child grows, you can help them learn about consent in everyday interactions. Potty training is perfect for this as it involves privacy and control over their own body.  You’re not taking this away by verbally directing them and/or giving them a choice over how it’s done. Really, by taking away the risk of having to override their choices, you are making sure to honour them and show them that consent matters.

Still struggling? 

Multiple, ongoing accidents can really get you down when it comes to potty training. Check out our courses to help or contact Rebecca directly for a consultation to overcome resistance and refusal if it’s derailing your progress.

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