Toilet training is similar to driver training

training a teen driver is about positive parenting. driver training is like potty training. The teen is in control like the toddler is in control.

Spend the first decade building a relationship based on mutual respect so the teen years will be easier.

In reply to a listener inquiry [proving I respond to reader queries. Bring them on!] here’s my take on potty training. It should really be called “parent training.” I failed and felt frustrated by the lack of control.Ah ha! That’s the lesson. They are in charge, not us.My first three kids potty trained by around age 3. Nowadays kids who speak in paragraphs keep parents scooping their poop until age 4. Ugh!

My fourth child decided to use the toilet by 19 months. Why? Because I had learned how to motivate a toddler through encouragement, to avoid power struggles and convince her it was her idea. She sensed I didn’t care too much about potty training. I knew how to share power with her.

Here are some guidelines.Toilet training is about establishing a positive parenting relationship between toddler and parent. Toilet training can be easy when parents let kids take the lead

1. The more emotion a parent shows around potty training, the more power the child can seize and use to manipulate parents. We all need power. Rudolph Dreikurs in “Children, the Challenge” calls urine and tears “water power.” Tears and pee are effective ways to get what you want, get revenge and demonstrate power.

2. Parents need to learn to share power. I hated this fact because I wanted all the power. I wanted them to do it my way. It’s a great way to fuel rebellion, and set the stage for sour teen years.

3. Parents are not in control. Toilet training is the initiation of independence. Parents can learn how to shine the light on the path without forcing them; to finesse a child to believe that toilet training is her idea.

To parents of older children, tweens and teens, do these guidelines sound familiar?

Let’s apply the principles of toilet training to driver training.

1. Mom wants to guide a teen to drive safely because Mom cannot force Junior to drive safely when Mom is not in the car.

2. A suave Dad will accept criticism about his driving from Junior and let Junior believe that  safe driving is his idea and he is a near expert on it.

3. By adolescence, parents have been forced to accept that we are not in control of a young person’s behavior. Teens must learn to show good judgement when they are 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour.

Toilet training is a primer for the rest of childhood. Force will backfire. The toddler will prove SHE is in control of bladder and bowels. So back off. As an overachiever who succeeded by trying too hard, backing off did not come naturally. I bought a lot more diapers for the first three kids and more pretty panties for the fourth.

Some parents resort to bribery. Beware if bribery is your main method of behavior control because it will backfire. Some experts say to save bribery for the “big guns.” Toilet training could be considered a “big gun.” Potty training is about attitude, about using the first 10 to 12 years to set up a positive relationship based on mutual respect so the teen years will be smooth.

What worked for you when potty training? What did you learn about parenting through toilet training?

Explore posts in the same categories: Encouragement, motivation, mutual respect, potty training, Rudolf Dreikurs

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6 Comments on “Toilet training is similar to driver training”

  1. Oh, I so totally am with you about not making it a power struggle. The older the child the more they resent being told when and how to potty. It’s exactly the kind of war that I wasn’t going to enter into…because like food…it can’t be won when it becomes a battle of wills! 🙂

  2. reliablebob Says:

    It’s easy to see from a distance, but not so easy wake up to when you’re in the middle of it.

  3. Your tips are very helpful. My daughter is 18 months old. We have a potty set up by the bathroom sink. I usually forget it’s there but she likes to sit down and play with the handle (which makes chiming sounds).

    I don’t want to push her but I also don’t want to be changing her at age 4.

  4. raising able Says:

    GOOD IDEA not to push her 🙂 You won’t be changing her at age 4 if you keep up that low-key attitude. Do you have some help with potty training — like at day care? People with less emotional [and financial!] investment can often succeed easier 🙂

    Motherhood is so complicated!

  5. erin Says:

    Day care can be a help or hindrance – they definitely support the potty training, but sometimes there is a financial incentive because toddlers can move into an older (cheaper) room once they are potty trained. I saw it backfire on a friend when he tried to force his 3 year old to use the potty, and ended up with several messes on the carpet when Junior asserted his power.

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