Written by Katrina Hamilton
I was recently scrolling through my Facebook timeline and came across a post from a mom asking her followers for pointers on how to quickly get her daughter potty trained. Her comments section was filled with all kinds of pointers from physically disciplining the child, to bribing the child, to making the kid run around naked for an entire weekend, to taking time off work to get it done. My husband and I recently conquered the often dreaded potty training quest ourselves, and throughout the journey, I learned one important thing from it: Potty training your little one is much easier when you don’t try to force them to do it! I don’t even remember when I first started trying to potty train my daughter (yes, it took me so long that I lost track of how much time had passed!), but all I know is that I initially and unnecessarily caught the blues trying to potty train my daughter because she simply wasn’t ready.
I’m not a fan of forcing small children to do things they don’t want to do. I don’t believe in bribing them to do things to try and make them learn faster and I’m definitely not a believer in physically disciplining a child because they’re not learning at the pace that you want them to learn, so I just stopped forcing the issue. When I’d ask her if she wanted to use the potty and she said yes, I let her do it and I cheered her on. I squealed, clapped, made up songs, danced, and did everything else short of throwing a party for her to encourage her. When she didn’t want to use it, I didn’t press the issue. Because I chose this method, it took forever to get her trained! However, when she was ready, she pretty much trained herself. It literally only took her less than 2 days to go on a consistent basis! Now she even asks if she can sit on the toilet when she doesn’t even really have to go!
I said all of that to say this to all of my fellow potty training moms and dads: These stages of our babies lives are supposed to be fun, carefree, and stress free. At this age, learning is supposed to be fun for them (and us)! Every child learns at a different pace, and forcing them to do something that they’re not ready to do just adds stress to them. Also, if your child is anything like mine (who acts JUST like me), trying to force them to do something that they’re not ready to do or that they don’t want to do only makes them purposely prolong the process! Why put yourself through that?!
We as parents are already half crazy and stressed out about 85% of the time (Ok, Ok. About 95% of the time), so why not eliminate some of that stress when you can? I understand that as a proud parent, you want to be able to say that your child can keep up with everyone else’s, or even say that your child can do more at an earlier age than the average child, but is the stress on you and your little one really worth it?
My advice to those mommies and daddies who are in a hurry to rush your little ones along is this: Don’t do it! Sure you may be tired of paying $30 for a case of diapers or pull-ups every couple of weeks, and maybe you’re tired of feeling like other parents are forcing you and your child into some kind of competition with them and their children, but you owe it to your children (and your sanity) to just let them learn and grow at their own pace. These years go by lightning fast, so just relax, have fun, enjoy watching your babies grow up, and give the middle finger to anyone who tries to make you feel like you and your children aren’t keeping up!