I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying, “Until you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes…”. Well, this greatly applies to potty training, and when we can find ways to understand or relate to the giant change and transition that our children are going through as they enter into the potty training process, we will be able to dig a little deeper and find extra patience and empathy within us!
When it comes to potty training, we must put aside all of our fears and personal opinions about this process and view the experience through the eyes of our children. When we do this, we can discover what their needs are and how we can help walk them through this process as a guide, instead of as an enforcer.
Change is often scary because it revolves around the unknown. What if you were told overnight that you had to pack up and move to a new state in the near future? That would be scary because everything would change for you, right?! Potty training can also feel overwhelming in this way to children because their little world is so small and predictable that when something this monumental changes, it can uproot life as they know it in a sense.
Here are a few helpful tips to have empathy during the potty training process:
Flip the situation - Imagine if someone handed you a diaper and asked you to start pooping and peeing in it from now on. That would sound crazy right? You may experience feeling confused, scared, uncomfortable, disgusted, and even angry! Now imagine how your child’s reaction will be when you ask them to go in the potty! It’s a new and scary process to begin and when we can be patient and calm throughout this process, it will give them the opportunity to match our emotions and trust the process because they trust us. Relate to feelings, not situations – Kids often experience fear and anxiety when beginning the potty training process. One helpful way for us to relate to these feelings is to think of a time where we also felt the same way...moving to a new city, losing a job, going through a breakup, or struggling to make ends meet. When we can relate to the same feelings that our children are having, we will better be able to meet their needs.
Perspective – Our perspective changes every situation in our lives, whether it’s in a positive or a negative way. Children often have bright, positive perspectives, and when we can mirror this perspective and help to cultivate the positivity through patience, encouragement, and reassurance, we can give our children the support that they need to make this big leap into potty training with confidence and with a perspective that is focused on success!
Autonomy – Children who enter the age range of being potty trained, are also entering a stage where they realize that they are separate individuals from their parents, and they often begin to test their independence and capabilities in many ways! Giving our children an appropriate amount of autonomy during this potty training process will help them to believe in themselves and their abilities to successfully go pee and poop on the potty on their own!
Potty training is not only a giant milestone for our children, but it is often a giant milestone for us as well! Our babies are no longer babies anymore. Instead, they are growing up into self-sufficient children who can independently do things like go to the POTTY on their OWN!
Potty training can take a lot of cheerleading on our behalf as the adult. When we are able to give our children the patience, understanding, and empathy that they need to succeed, they will likely have an easier and more enjoyable experience throughout the training process!