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When Potty Training Doesn't Work
by Rebecca Garland

Most parents aren’t gullible enough to believe that potty training will really be as simple as it sounds in the popular parenting books. The simple steps and outlines to follow seem straightforward enough and apparently by sheer force of will you should have your child trained in a matter of hours, if not days.

In reality, the potty training magic just doesn’t seem to work as well as we’d like. Of course it seems to go perfectly for friends and apparently your spouse was trained in two hours according to your mother-in-law, but the reality, potty training just doesn’t work that well for everyone. If you’re facing a resistant toddler or one who just doesn’t seem interested, it is not necessarily your fault and your child isn’t going to graduate in a diaper. You just need to take a step back and come at the problem in a different way.

Check Your Timing
The problem most parents have with potty training is they start too early or at a bad time.

For example, if you realize baby brother is going to be born in a month and you want to get potty training out of the way, you’re taking the wrong approach. Potty training isn’t done on your schedule or that of the more dubious parenting experts. Your child will train when he’s ready – and not before. Pushing before he’s ready will just lead to frustration on the part of everyone and can actually take you back a few steps.

Check Your Intensity Level
There is nothing worse than coming into potty training with too much or too little intensity. If you are overbearing, critical and threatening, your child won’t feel relaxed and comfortable with his new role as Big Boy who uses the potty. Remember, he’s leaving diapers behind, and those diapers have been a source of comfort and simplicity for years. Forcing change will be rough.

Instead lead him through the process by staying gently firm, upbeat and positive. Be his guide and take on the responsibility of checking the clock to anticipate his needs, encouraging use of the potty and staying upbeat when accident and hesitation occurs. Many children need rewards to overcome their hesitation and trepidation about this huge change. Explore systems such as sticker charts, small candy and other rewards if your child needs a physical reminder of motivation.

Action Plan
If you’ve hit a roadblock with your potty training efforts, cheer yourself up first by remembering that every child winds up potty training because of or in spite of our efforts. Take your favorite ideas from potty training book aside and then throw the books under the couch with the musical potty chairs. If you haven’t read a book or at least a few articles on potty training, now’s the time. Tailor the ideas that speak to you for your own child to come up with a plan of your own.

Little boy love cars? Buy a collection of Matchbox cars and let him “earn” one every day. Little girl love praise? Call a willing grandparent or the working parent after each successful trip to the potty. Take a step back and relax – potty training is just another big step in your child’s development, not an Olympic event. It will come together in time as long as you are loving, patient and most importantly – persistent.

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