Backing Off Of Potty Training

It usually goes down like this: A Mom writes in around the 4th or 5th day in of potty training: “I don’t know what happened! It was totally clicking. She HAD it. She was sitting and peeing and pooping. Now, all of a sudden, she won’t sit on the potty when I prompt her and she’s having accidents all over the place. HELP!”

When you are potty training, there is always an undefinable moment when you actually have to hand it over to your child. Usually, this is within the first week. A really, really good sign that your child wants you out of her business is when she ‘had it” and all of a sudden resists or starts have tons of accidents.

The learning phase of anything sucks. No one wants to be “learning”…we like to be “learnt”.

This is a classic catch 22 and scary as hell. You need to give it over to her and SHE’S NOT YET PROVEN SHE CAN. This is probably the most classic mistake in potty training. Because your child isn’t self initiating and going on her own, you figure you have to keep at her.

What you need to do is GIVE HER ROOM TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR HERSELF. If you are constantly at her, watching, hovering, trying to help, she has no room to make this her own.  Now, this doesn’t mean you leave it totally up to her. Prompting is going to be necessary for a bit longer.   You must prompting without over prompting. Which sounds awfully  Yoda-ish, but it’s true.

Here’s the trick: Toss the prompts out there with as little energy as possible. “I can see you have to pee. There’s your potty.”  Then drop it. Walk away, either mentally and/or physically. Then she is choosing on her own. AND THERE’S NOTHING TO RESIST. If you don’t care…there’s nothing to fight. I mean, of course you care but you have to give your child the room to learn it, to choose it and to do it herself.  The lofty reason for this: it makes it their own. The reality: it’s easier this way.

Sometimes, you have to take the process out of the process. Here’s a direct quote from one of our Moms:

“I definitely think the hands off approach is what we need here. I think experimenting a bit really helped to figure a few things out. First, we needed to take the potty training out of potty training if that makes sense at all. I think once we hit a snag Friday we all got too focused on it and everyone was hyper aware of every poop/pee/toot that came out of her and we weren’t just being a family and spending time together. Tried the complete opposite today. Didn’t really talk much about it at all, except when I needed to and kept it short and sweet. I guess the message she is sending me is that she can do it without me and actually does better that way. If I act at all available to help her she then uses me like a crutch and suddenly can’t do anything by herself anymore”.