Jamie Glowacki is a mom, social worker, and potty-training guru based in Rhode Island. She is the author of Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need To Know To Do It Once And Do It Right, out now from sister company Simon & Schuster and available wherever books are sold.
As a potty training expert, I've had the privilege of helping thousands of families with this all-important, sometimes-crazy-making milestone. Parents have come to me with all manner of potty trainings gone awry. There are very few mistakes that can't be fixed but over the years, I've found that there are three never-evers that I find myself begging parents not to do.
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Never ASK a toddler if they have to go to the bathroom.
You will of course, have to prompt them, especially in the beginning. The prompt should be a statement: "Come, it's time to pee." Or the prompt can be a choice: "Would you like to go before me or after me?" Or the prompt can be a challenge: "I'll race you to the bathroom." Toddlers go through a charming phase called the NO phase. And if you ASK a toddler, you are sure to get a strong "NO!", even if you're sure your child has to go. You will find yourself in the beginnings of a power struggle and it won't be pretty.
Never post on Facebook that you are beginning potty training.
This seems silly but it's vital. Your energy and non-verbal communication is leading the potty training process for your child. If you post on Facebook, you will get seventy-five conflicting comments on how to do this. This will shake your confidence in your plan. You will doubt yourself. This uncertainty will transfer to your child and their confidence will also be shaky. This will come out in resistance. What child wants to do something their own parents are uncertain about? Save your status updates for when you're done.
Never, ever give your child a diaper to poop in once you've begun potty training.
Yes. Pooping can be very dramatic for some children. Your child might be having a hard time pooping on the potty and they request a diaper. It can seem like such an easy, innocent thing to do. However, it will wreak havoc on the process and can take years (yes, years) to break this habit. It's better to help your child work through the fear they are experiencing.
Keep In Mind...
Somewhere along the line, potty training became a much bigger deal than it needs to be. Remember, this is a developmental milestone, no more, no less. No two children will potty train the same way. There is no other milestone that we put such pressure on. We don't say, "Oh, he's walking? Are you sure he's ready? I just saw him fall. He's probably not ready. If he doesn't walk in three days, you should stop helping him walk. My kid walked in three days. You should give him an M&M when he walks correctly. " Right? We don't do that. Sink into your parental intuition, make a plan and have full confidence your child is absolutely capable of potty training.
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