Why to Avoid Making potty training about pleasing or disappointing youIt’s natural to think that this approach would be motivating to a child, but it often has the opposite effect: the fact that their ability or choice to use the potty has the power to make you happy or unhappy adds a lot of pressure and anxiety to the process. This causes children to get stuck or paralyzed by the process because using the potty has become an emotionally-laden “relationship issue” between the parent and child versus simply being  a bodily function. Further, children sense that their parents are trying to exert some control over their bodies (at exactly the time when children are driven to exert power in any way they can) which may lead to more withholding or resistance in a desperate attempt to maintain their integrity and efficacy.  In one family, the parents had a rule that 3-year-old Julian had to sit on the potty for 5 minutes after bath time or he wouldn’t get any books.  As the timer was winding down they repeatedly asked if he was sure he didn’t have to go which was met with an very clear, "Nope!” As soon as the timer went off Julian got up and promptly peed on the bathroom floor as he smiled mischievously at mom and dad. The message—you don’t control me. What to do? Follow your child’s lead and support his efforts; avoid inserting yourself and your needs or expectations as that just complicates the process and gives your child something to react to. That means avoiding judgment, shaming, bribing, rewarding, etc.

Read more about a healthy approach to potty training.

Read about other parenting strategies that backfire with toddlers.