One of the best pieces of advice I took from my very first baby books was that consistency is key. This has rung true for me all the way into toddlerhood and beyond. You can't expect your child to learn, adapt to transitions, or understand your expectations unless you provide a consistent environment for them to adapt to. Most transitions take time - usually a week or 2 of consistent support from the parents to help children understand the new way of doing things. This is why, with big transitions like potty training, it is important to research and know what you're doing before you get started. What are you going to do when your child doesn't react in the ideal manner? When you've anticipated problems before they arise, it's much easier to stay consistent in the moment and stay confident in the process.
So many of my clients who come to me have the right intentions but by the time they've reached out for potty training help, they've tried every "trick" in the book. While parents may be clear about setting expectations, the approach looks so different from one day to the next (or even from one hour to the next) that the child gets confused. This is when it's helpful to slow down, and focus on just a couple of techniques to help the child learn. I'm sharing a post below from Jamie Glowacki, author of Oh Crap! Potty Training, that provides additional advice about how to help parents with this struggle. Enjoy!
You’ve tried everything…maybe too much?
As usual, I'm blogging due to a high frequency of emails regarding a certain topic.
This is a common potty training opener: We've tried everything!
I always ask, "Like what?"
The answer is usually so long, my head starts spinning.
I'm going to give you some advice that applies, whether you are training by my guide, another guide, or doing it on your own.
DON'T TRY EVERYTHING! YOU'LL BE DOING TOO MUCH!
The thing about trying everything is that most often "everything" is tried in very quick succession. Oh! She had an accident: try a reward. Oh. That didn't work. Try the silent trick. Oh. That didn't work. Try blah, blah. And on and on.
This can be defeating for 2 really important reasons.
#1. This can be confusing to the child. Find a method or "trick" that YOU decide is going to be THE ONE…then STICK TO IT. As I stated in an earlier post, it can take up to 15 tries of a new food before a child decides he likes it. Kids NEED consistency in order to learn.
#2. Trying different things only screams to your child: I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING HERE! And oh boy! It's all downhill from there. Kids are hardwired to sense fear. And they will feed on this fear like piranhas.
I kid you not.
Once your child senses that YOU are on shaky ground there WILL be a power struggle and you will NOT win. For real.
I also like to compare potty training to any other potential power struggles with a toddler. You KNOW this: when your child wants to do something like have candy or watch a video; either you say yes or no. When you say no in a lame, weak way, they will relentlessly hound you for a yes. Why? Because they could sense that they could sway you. They could sense you were lame and weak. Right? When you say no and everything from your body language to your tone says, No. Absolutely not…they tend to just let it go. Right?
When you are trying everything, you essentially are seeming lame and weak. Get your game plan together and stick with it. This will show you mean business. I give many suggestions in my guide but they are not meant to be used all together or in quick succession. Of course, if you're having difficulties you may need to switch it up a bit, just not bam!bam!bam!
You also want to be sure you believe your child is capable of potty training.
Don't make this a "will it work?". Make this a "This is going to work".
There is safety in consistency.
I'm reminded of new parents trying to get their infant to sleep. They try everything. The swing! The white noise! The darkened room! Here Dad, maybe you can do it! Most often, just holding that baby snug and a repetitive motion (albeit, for a long time sometimes)gets that baby to sleep.
So if you've tried everything;stop. Try one thing and stick to your guns.
Image courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net