Five Winning Ways To Connect With Your Toddler During Potty Training (And At All Other Times, Too.)

Now… it’s possible that you’ll find potty training a little bit stressful.

All that handing over of control. The fear that your child won’t ‘get it’ before something of value takes a hit. The niggling thought that he might react just to spite you… (he won’t, by the way – watch the videos to find out why.)

So what can you do to make it though with minimal drama and strife?

Well, to start with, you can employ my five favourite techniques for keeping a harmonious household. These will go a long way towards staving off conflict, and you won’t even need to take deep breaths or count to ten.

1) Never ask an open ended question if you’re looking for only one answer.
Instead offer a choice where all outcomes are acceptable to you. Do NOT ask “Do you want to do a wee?” unless you are prepared to take “no” for an answer. Instead offer a choice: “Do you want to sit on the potty or the toilet?” “Would you like a book or some lego while you sit on your potty?” Or make a statement: “We’re heading out the door soon. Come with me to the toilet and see if you can do a wee before we go.”

2) Talk eye-to-eye.
Look at your toddler – pretty tiny, isn’t she? When you talk to her from ‘up there’ at your height she has to tip her head back as far as it will go to look at you. That’s like you having a conversation with the bloke plastering your ceiling – all day every day. It’s tiring and awkward and your toddler might react to your position of power in a far from subservient manner. Instead: Kneel down with your bum on your heels. Or if you can’t manage that, sit on a low chair. Whatever it takes to address her eye-to-eye. If you were battling about nothing… it will melt away.

3) Don’t snatch.
If your toddler has managed to get hold of something that puts you in a flat spin (your new phone, Grandad’s reading glasses, big sister’s craft project) and you’re desperate to get it off her before something terrible happens – resist the urge to snatch it away.

Do not get into a tug of war with a toddler!

She’ll give it everything she’s got and something will get broken. Instead: ask her to put it away for you. Preferably somewhere really high up so that you need to lift her to reach, or somewhere special so that she feels grown up and pleased with herself – a cupboard, a case, a purse, a zip up pocket. You will be amazed at how well this trick works. It’s like magic! Here’s a sample conversation from only yesterday.

Dad: how did you get hold of your sister’s shell?!
Toddler: uh.
Dad: Can I have it please?
Toddler: No.
Dad: Come on, it’s not yours and you might break it. Give it to me, please.
Toddler: No. No no no no no no no no.
Dad: <goes to reach for it because he has forgotten technique number 3>
Dad: <makes an incredible recovery from the brink of the abyss> Could you put it away in my pocket for me? You’ll need to undo the zip…
Toddler: Yes.

I kid you not, it works like a charm.

4) Whatever you’re about to say, do you really need to say it? If it’s a nag, do you need to say it? If it’s a reminder, do you need to say it? Will it make any difference? Are you just filling the dead air? What if you didn’t say it? Would the world end?

5) Ask yourself: do you ever make comparable choices?
I’m talking about “not the red plate, the blue plate”, “not the white potty, the yellow potty”, “not this book, that book” – all after you’ve planned your next move around the red plate, the white potty or this book.

Do you have a favourite mug? Do you choose it even when there are seven other perfectly serviceable mugs in the drawer? Adults also make casual choices all the time, about things that don’t matter to anyone but them.

If your child was able to do everything for himself, would this situation have even arisen? If all I’m doing is being an extension of my toddlers arms, they get to over rule my choices and make their own. It’s not a big deal. It’s not about ‘acting like a spoilt child and getting away with it’.

If your partner knew about your favourite mug and it was right there by the kettle and yet he served you tea in that awful one from the office secret santa that reminds you of vomit in the lifts, would you not be a little bit peeved? Would you think of yourself as a brat for your peevishness? I’m guessing… probably not. Yes, your toddler is a little more fluid in their attachments than you – which makes life less predictable than might be ideal – but so what? Give him the blue plate. You’re the one who can reach the cupboard after all.

So that’s it. Simple techniques to keep your day-to-day sanity on an even keel. And hopefully give you the flexibility and staying power to breeze potty training just like you breeze everything else! 😀

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