What is a parent to do when it seems they've tried every potty training tip in the book?
By: Daniel Wagner.
In Part One of “Potty Training a Strong Willed Child,” I discussed the constant struggle that my wife and I had with our youngest child over potty training. I provided a long list of different approaches we used; none of which seemed to work. In Part Two, I will go back in time a bit to try and provide some background into what drove many of my parenting decisions.
Many many moon ago: It wasn’t until recently during a conversation with my mother that I found out all the potty training struggles she went through with me as a kid. It was amazing all the parallels I could draw between our situations. There were so methods and techniques she tried that simply did not work. During this conversation she felt compelled to apologize for everything; explaining that she was under great pressure from her family to force the potty training issue. She had attempted to implement many of the same archaic methods that we tried, to no avail.
That’s Gross! She relayed to me a story of my diaper escapades in which I decided that I would be a young artist by promptly removing my own diaper and proceeding to create a beautiful monochromatic brown mural upon the wall nearest my crib. Apparently, I was ready to remove the diaper, but seemed to have little interest in taking the necessary steps to move to toilet training.
It wasn’t until I was about nine or ten before I finally got control over my own nighttime bathroom issues. I was potty trained in every other way, but for whatever reason, bedwetting was a long-lasting struggle. I would argue that it was very likely the coercive methods my parents attempted which only resulted in further perpetuating my resistance to the idea.
Shaming and punishment were tools that never seemed to teach me anything.
The key takeaway from the conversation with my mother was that ultimately I’m not going to be able to force Sophia to learn anything that she’s not ready to learn. She’s much too strong-willed and stubborn, like her daddy.
Extrinsic motivational tools seem to do nothing but strengthen her resolve and heighten her resistance. The punishments only succeeded in controlling her behavior through fear and coercion. She needed to be motivated intrinsically. The only way she ever seemed to follow through was if she saw the value herself.
The fact is; coercive methods did not work for me either, and they were not likely to work on Sophia. Before my transformation into a peaceful parent, I would never have seen this. Her strong will would not be easily exploited and molded into what we thought she should do. There had to be another approach we could have taken sooner that would have changed the outcome.
In Part Three, The Potty Whisperer, Adriana Vermillion, analyzes our story and offers some great tips that could have made all the difference; great advice that could have saved us tons of stress and diaper money. I imagine that there are many other parents out there who are having similar struggles with their young ones.
Parent of Progress blog, shares his experiences, tips, and advice for new parents and/or parents who are new to the concept of peaceful parenting and the challenges associated with the transition in differing mindsets.