Category Archives: Parenting
If you don’t take joy in the process and accept the small rewards, you will loathe the experience of potty training your kids. They often experience toilet trauma as they learn the ins and outs of hygiene and incur your wrath when they miss. Try to stay calm, cool, and collected. My children are well beyond this difficult phase, but a friend going through it reminded me of my former potty mentoring days.
You are a teacher and an instructor on the uses of the john at home and elsewhere. You are a monitor of bathroom behavior, and as such you have a big role in a child’s life. They love learning new things but for some, this is a tough skill to acquire. A lot of whining and crying accompanies your request for immediate results while they’re sitting on top of your nice Kohler toilet. (They are sitting there dutifully but producing no product.) Sometimes they just like to be ornery; other times they just forget. Get ready for surprises.
Toilette etiquette may be beyond the little tots, but it is imperative. It sounds sophisticated, but is not. At home, you have the time to be patient and also clean up any stray messes. In other people’s homes, you die when anything out of the ordinary occurs. You must go with the young ones, of course, and supervise or you both will not be invited back. In restaurants, hotels, malls, and other public places, strict observance of good behavior is mandatory. Often other mothers are watching – and judging. God forbid their own precious offspring do something wrong!
You have to make potty training a fun novelty game until it becomes automatic and ingrained. Don’t expect the kids to know how to operate a toilet, remember paper, or how to flush. Each and every step has its place. How you make it stick in their growing sponge-like minds is a reflection of your creativity. Bribery can get you everywhere – candy, new toys, a soda, etc. You can use gold stars, stickers, or an accomplishment chart. The best approach is to be honest and describe why it is so important and the mark of a “good” boy or girl. It is something to reward at first, even just with accolades and plenty of smiles. Tell siblings this is not something for Facebook or Instagram. It is okay to recount to grandma or Aunt Sue.
Older brothers and sisters, not to mention dads, can be called upon for ideas. But you are the one to witness the multiple daily routine events. The cute TV ad showing the mom with a huge jug of bleach is not an exaggeration. Talk to your kids about cleanliness, responsibility, growing up, and courtesy. Throw paper in the toilet, not on the floor, put the lid down for others, and by all means wash those hands. Never, ever, throw stuff in the bowl and then reach in to grab them.
When all is said and done, you will proud of your progeny and ready to move on to the next training task.