Potty training can be a time rife with frustration and elevated emotions, and little wonder. The child is struggling to learn a complicated new skill and Mom is anxious to see her child through this phase in life and finally be able to live diaper-free. The potential for something to go wrong is real, especially if a parent allows the stress to get the better of her. If you feel yourself cracking under the strain, step back and take a deep breath. Lashing out at your child can have lasting effects.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more child abuse happens during potty training than during any other developmental step of a child's life. This information is sad but not surprising. Potty training can be messy and aggravating, and sometimes parents mistake their children's inability to progress as quickly -- or as completely -- as they want them to for deliberate disobedience. When a power struggle erupts, so do tempers. Be careful. Giving in to hitting or seriously punishing a child can lead to emotional scarring that lasts a lifetime. HealthyChildren.org reports that abused children can become depressed, withdrawn, violent and even suicidal, and are at a risk for substance abuse when they get older.
Pressure and Expectations
Many parents want to "keep up with the Joneses," meaning they feel pressured to have their children reach developmental milestones as soon as, or even before, other children. This in turn leads parents to pressure children, notes AskDrSears.com. Pushing a child towards potty training before he's ready will only turn the process into an unpleasant experience and actually delay learning. He may become anxious about toilet training and fear having to go potty, which in turn leads to physical issues such as stool withholding and fecal impacting.
Your child needs you to be her ally during the potty training process. She needs your reassurance, encouragement and unwavering patience. At times this is hard, especially after repeated accidents. However, accidents are perfectly normal, notes MayoClinic.com, and your reaction shouldn't be to scold or punish your child. Scolding only leads to embarrassment and feelings of self-doubt. It would be better to gently remind her to use the potty, especially when she's distracted by an activity that is making her postpone going to the bathroom.
It's Okay to Wait
Your child doesn't have to be the miracle baby on the block who learns how to use the potty at 6 months and you don't have to be the super parent that taught him. This should be a pleasant experience for your child, a time for pride and accomplishment. If he isn't physically or emotionally ready for the leap, it's okay to give him more time. If you've struggled and failed at potty training for several weeks, it won't hurt your child's progress to put him back in diapers and try again in a few months. Look for signs that he's ready, such as knowing when he's wet, expressing discomfort when he's dirty, showing an interest in the potty, knowing how to pull his pants on and off, and staying dry for two or more hours during the day.