Are you struggling to see your way through a potty learning problem because you are overwhelmed and frustrated by your child’s behaviour? You are not alone, and I can help.
When your child is struggling with some aspect of the potty learning process, we know that there is a problem at the root of it that is related to the behaviour they display. But as a parent, it can be so hard to navigate when we are worried, tired or our patience is tested by their behaviour.
When it comes to behavioural problems, they can feel inseparable from the child but it is so important to focus on the behaviour itself. Do not fall into the trap of thinking of your child as being good or bad, their behaviour might be less than ideal right now but they are not their behaviour. I can best explain by sharing this wisdom from Faber and Mazlish.
Children with problems do not need to be viewed as problem children. They do need:
Acceptance of their frustration:
“This isn’t easy. It can be frustrating.”
Appreciation for what they have accomplished, however imperfect.
“You got a lot closer that time.”
Help in focusing on solutions:
“This is tough. What do you think we should do?”
If you take that time to respond to a behavioural issue accordingly and with empathy, it is incredibly powerful and really will make such a difference to your relationship with your child in every aspect of your parenting. It will also really help you to get to a place where you can collaborate with your child in getting to the root of the problem and resolving it together.
Try practical play-based solutions
Have you ever noticed your child process real life scenarios through play? Before the age of 3, meeting your child in their imagination is one of the most effective ways to introduce concepts and processes that you want them to learn. Far more powerful than telling them how to do something!
You can join in with their imaginary play by creating a scenario where the favourite toy needs to go potty. You can have their toy do what you want your child to do as an example, then let your child take the lead and hopefully reveal to you an anxiety or learning gap that might be helpful along the way.
If you struggle with improv (as adults we do sometimes forget how to play!) here are some suggestions:
1) Have the toy notice that they need to pee/poop, have them use the potty and then congratulate the toy for succeeding. In other words model what you want them to do!
2) Replicate the issue that you are having. Tell the toy it’s time to pee/poop but have them resist, want to keep playing/eating/reading and then play that they have an accident and need to take time to calmly clean it up and change their clothes before going back to the activity.
Remember to let your child take the lead and continue the game. You may be surprised by what you learn from how they view the situation.
And remember – their resistance to the process does not mean they are not ready! Children are born ready to learn the potty skills they will one day need to be toilet independent. Learn more about the readiness myth in my blog: The Worst Advice for Solving Potty Training Problems.