A Little More On Self Initiation

I often get a LOT questions about self initiation. Most often, the child who’s not self initiating is stuck in a zone of:  “eh…Mom’s got this.”   It’s almost a laziness as opposed to not learning (I assure you, I’m not saying you have a lazy child).

Previous discussions on this topic include a general, overarching autonomy that needs to take place and also, for some kids, a breaking down of the minutia and “handing” them each component.

Once in a while though, I’ll get a client who has this situation:  This child does everything on her own, except the actual prompt. Once prompted, she’ll go to the potty, manipulate all her clothing, do her thing and be done with it. But if Mom doesn’t prompt her…forget it. She pees her pants.

Of course, the first thing is always patience.  Ask yourself honestly…does the prompting bother you or do you THINK it should look different?  If the prompting is wearing on your nerves, then let’s try to change something. If the prompting has become part of your routine and really doesn’t bug you, don’t stress about it. Your child WILL eventually go on their own. And the prompt never fully goes away until they leave for college.

The number one thing to remember in build autonomy around pottying is to get them to ACTUALLY MOTIVATE to the potty on their own. 

If you have a brilliant idea how to do that, go for it.

If you don’t, try a timer. You can set the kitchen timer for either when you know approximately when she’s got to pee  OR you can watch for her signals and set it for 2 minutes. I’m not a fan of potty training kids with timers and watches. BUT in the instance, we want the prompt to become a neutral zone. So, the first step is getting it off of YOU.   Once it’s something mechanical, there’s no emotionality attached to it.

You also want to prompt at those easy catch times. And mirror those times back to your child. “It’s time to eat dinner. Everybody go pee and wash your hands.”   Then the natural times to pee get locked into her mind. “Oh. Pee before eating dinner.”

Mostly though, prompting is a crutch and your child may need it for a while longer. Potty training is a BIG transition, so don’t be overly anxious to take away the crutch.