The Big Drama that Potty-Training Wasn’t


Potty TrainingI read a little book about potty training once.

And it changed my life.

And it potty trained my child.

And it made me a little mad…because I discovered that the key to potty-training is really quite simple.

After all, potty training is something our grandparents did regularly…  Yet I’ve never heard a grandma talk about potty training the way we do today.

No.  I found that the problem was not potty training.  Or my kid.  Or the timing.  The problem was me.

The author points out in her little book that we moms (especially new moms) are inundated with information and training and assistance for everything from getting pregnant to caring for an infant.  But when it comes to potty-training…

Sister, you are on your own.  No one is going to come into your home and do that one for you.  And let’s face the facts.  Every kid is different.  Every kid’s signs and symptoms and interests and personalities are just different.  So all the information in the world is not going to get your kid to go potty…

…you are.

But you know what amazed me?

It was so simple.

It wasn’t some magic formula.  It wasn’t setting them on the potty for 5 hours a day.  It wasn’t bribing them.  Or tricking them.  It wasn’t pull-ups and training pants.  Or ‘trying’ every thirty minutes.  Or a potty that really flushes and sings songs and spits out candy when they’re done.  While those all may help, I learned that the most important key to effective potty training was one thing and one thing alone:


Think about that for a second.  Let it sink in.

Upon discussing potty training with a woman from my mom’s generation, she made the interesting comment: “I think parents are too lazy to potty train nowadays.”  Ouch!

While I understand her point, I think it’s actually the exact opposite.  I think we are TOO busy.  I think we are not lazy enough.

We are too busy going to playgroups, taking them to the park, playing educational games, turning on the most developmentally appropriate TV shows, surrounding them with friends, and animals, and nature, and learning opportunities.  We want them engaged and happy and creative and learning and… we are so busy doing so many things for our children that we tend to forget to just BE with our children.  We forget that they are just children… still amazed by the simplest things in life.

Potty Training

They would rather sit on your lap and play with your face than watch a cartoon.

They want you to chase them on their bike.

They want you to wait for them to try and put their shirt on by themselves.

And they need you there.  Present.  Engaged.  Paying attention.  When they feel like they have to go potty.  So you can take them and show them how.

This was convicting for me.

I realized that I wasn’t engaged in my child’s life.  We did things, sure.  We were busy.  Sometimes I tried to keep her busy so I could do other things.  But I wasn’t always ‘paying attention’ until we started potty training.

Several months ago when we tried it was an awful power struggle that ended in me yelling and slapping a diaper on her.  Not my finest moment.

But this time it was different.  This time I put everything aside and I said, “Let’s do this together.”

In fact, the first time she went potty by herself was when I said, “Baby girl, Mommy has to go potty.  Do you want to come with me?”  So I sat on the big potty and she sat on the little potty and together we crossed this milestone.  Side-by-side.  Smiling at each other and celebrating with peanut m&ms.

So silly that something so simple could be such a huge bonding experience.

But I was challenged by it.

And I challenge you.

Whichever method you choose, I hope you will relax, enjoy this milestone, and don’t make it too complicated.

Because if you forget about everything you’ve ever read and dreaded about potty training and just take some time to be engaged with your child, I think you’ll find you are a better team than you ever imagined!


Disclaimer: This post is not meant to criticize anyone’s choice of potty training method.  Some of you spend every waking moment paying attention to your child and you still cannot get them to pee.  Others have tried a method once and it has worked like a charm.  Potty training is a mysterious thing, and regardless of where you might be on that journey, I hope this post was an encouragement that when it happens (or happened), it will be because YOU and your child succeeded together.

Signature image


  1. I remember having the biggest fear of potty training. When it came, we had a few accidents but it really wasn’t as a big deal as I had made it in my head. And oh my goodness BEING PRESENT is so important. If you were distracted for one second…boom an accident!

  2. Thank you. This really resonates with me as I have recently noticed that although I left my profession to raise my son in his formative years, I often desire escape. Leaning in and being present make being a SAHM so much easier and richly rewarding! Thank you for this reminder!

  3. Hello to everyone! Let me tell you that I found this post really interesting, really thought-provoking and catchy. I hope you can do more of this in the future, because I wanna share this with my friends on social media and blogs. Thanks and continue what you’re doing


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here