Achieve Potty Training Success: Think Like a Child

Potty training can feel like a frustrating, time-consuming struggle for a child. It interrupts playtime, there are all these new rules, and the worst part is when there’s an accident in a public place.

And it’s probably no walk in the park for you either!

Potty training is a big emotional and physical milestone. Knowing what thoughts are going through your child’s mind can help you understand how to potty train her more effectively.

Child thought: This is no fun!
Your child is having a blast playing, when suddenly she’s whisked away to the bathroom for potty training, an activity that’s both stressful and confusing. Your child may be scared to poop because her stool is hard or she remembers a time when she was constipated. It’s no wonder that she has the occasional accident.

Child thought: But that’s my best poop ever!
You may think of poop and pee as, well, flushable. From your child’s perspective, those are things she created. A lot of hard work went into them, too! She may consider that poop on par with her latest finger painting … and you want to flush it down the drain. How rude!Child thought: Is there a monster in that bowl?

Once your child manages to go in the potty, she’s got to flush, which can be pretty scary. All that noise and swirling water! Maybe there’s a big monster lurking in the toilet, waiting for her to sit down so he can bite her. Imaginations can run wild, especially if there’s an older sibling spinning scary tales about the potty.

Child thought: This is a lot of work!

Her playtime has been interrupted, she’s survived the scary toilet monster, and now she’s got to wipe? And pull up her pants? And wash her hands?! You’ve got to be kidding, mom! Potty training is a lot of work, and there are many new skills for your child to master. It can be overwhelming -- or just annoying.

Child thought: Uh-oh …
Once potty training begins, your child will start to understand that it’s better to do her business in the potty. She gets rewarded for it, and you’re oh-so-proud. So if she slips up and has an accident, she may be embarrassed or scared that you’ll be mad. Potty training means a whole lot to Mom and Dad, and she doesn’t want to disappoint you!

Making potty training work
Keeping in mind that your child may be confused, annoyed, and a little intimidated by potty training goes a long, long way. Explain what poop and pee are made of and why we flush them down the toilet. Take the fear away from flushing, and dress your child in clothes that are easy to take off and put on. Above all else, be sure to reward and praise your child for going in the potty, but never make a big deal out of accidents.