Toilet training might be the first major chasm we cross as parents. It involves us as much as them, moves our child from one era to the next, and must be driven by considerate thought. Learning to use the restroom isn't just about losing the diaper, it is also about gaining personal responsibility.
When we allow our children to stay in diapers after we know they are capable of doing otherwise simply because they do not wish to take their next step, or because it is more convenient for us, then we are allowing our child to make the rules. We're also setting a poor precedent at far too early an age. Worse, we are teaching our little one that we're comfortable with the idea of cleaning up after them, until they decide different.
We know what you're thinking - "But my daughter's only two."
That may be true, but she'll soon be four, then six -- then sixteen. Right now, she's learning who she is, and these first years are paramount.
For some children, training is effortless, as easy as slipping vegetables into their mac and cheese. For others, potty training is a trying time when our little spawn will heavily assert their will.
This difficulty cannot detour us. Remember, it's called potty training. We may have a little extra laundry, and a load of extra conflict, but the battle is relatively short, and the aftermath will leave our child (and us) stronger than ever before.
This is all terrifically pragmatic, yet perfectly practical parents seem to lose all perspective when it comes to potty training.
Either we hedge because of the anticipated difficulty, or we allow fear to paralyze our momentum, afraid of the damage to their psyche if we push too hard or too fast.
As far as cerebral ruin, we're not suggesting that anyone wrap their children in chains until they can properly eliminate. We are simply suggesting that we honestly observe our children, for it is us who know them best.
Once we feel confident that our child understands what is happening (and what they are supposed to do), and we are comfortable that their bodies are capable of getting it done, then we have no excuse as parents to stand idle and allow our child to make messes.
Potty training doesn't begin when we finally decide to grit our teeth and buy a couple dozen pair of underwear. It is an awareness that we must weave into our conversation from the changing table forward. If approached with the proper measure of communication and warmth, potty training is a positive and empowering experience.
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