Life lessons of potty training

6 years ago

The life lessons of potty training could probably be a list ten pages long, so I will try to be concise and keep what I've learned on this journey to diaper-freedom to three main points.

1. We are all a work in progress.

This is also known as the "patience" lesson. After 15 minutes on the potty, and a firmly assured "No Mama I do not have to go", my lovely daughter went in to her room to play. An approximate 7 seconds later I hear "CHANGE ME!" being screamed in a hysterical voice as she comes toddling in to the kitchen soaked, with a trail of urine in her wake. As I grabbed the 10th paper towel roll of the week I could feel my shoulders tensing up, the blood pressure rising, the almost inescapable urge to freak out. But, I paused.

I have trouble controlling my impulse to get upset, and I've been practicing that for 30 years, surely I cannot expect this child to control her impulse to pee in a short two weeks. We are all constantly working on controlling our impulses, that's why no one goes to three yoga classes and then says "Oh, enlightenment, got it!".

2. Kindness goes a long way.

I am guilty of instruction. Like drill sargeant instruction. Typically only when there is something on the stove, or I have to be at work in, oh wait, three minutes ago. Yet to my pleasant surprise I've found that when I force a please in front of it, "Please stand on the stool so we can wash your hands", "Please stop trying to dip Rapunzel's hair in the pee", I only have to say things twice instead of six times. 

Please is in fact awesome!

3. There is inevitability of personality.

My husband and I go out of our way to make sure that potty training is a non-threatening process for our daughter. I'm very careful to always say "If you don't have to go that's ok", or "Just an accident, no big deal, try to remember to tell me next time you have to use the potty". These are said with virtually Mr. Rogers level calm.

Yet, this process still seems to stress my daughter out sometimes. She will sit on the toilet for 30 minutes, worried that she doesn't have to go and no reassurance in the world that it's ok can seem to calm her concern.

My husband and I are both hardest on ourselves, we push ourselves, we joke that it's because we are first borns, we joke that we hope she doesn't inherit this trait. But really, we do worry about it to some extent. Sure, it probably means that she will go on to be a neurosurgeon (fingers crossed!), but it also means a life time of silently berating herself when she feels like she isn't enough. 

So potty training has helped us see that she may be headed down that road, and while we may not be able to stop it, at least we can start early trying to teach her that she's perfect the way she is, and encouraging lots of self-confidence and love!

Wow....all that just from pee. Who knew?

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