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Putting Your Toilet Training Expectations Aside

Most parents want the best for their children, and may even view their successes and failures as extensions of themselves.

Bathroom behavior in particular—with its associations with cleanliness, decency, and civilized behavior—often calls up intense emotions that we may not have realized we had. This is why so many parents feel bewildered by bathroom mistakes that are actually quite common among toddlers and preschoolers. It is hard to keep in mind that such behaviors seem quite normal to our children, and to remember that they frequently occur in other families, too.

When addressing your child’s current problem, try to set aside your own agenda—your expectations regarding her progress, your emotional response to her actions, your embarrassment over how her behavior looks to others—and focus instead on your child’s need for information, attention, and support.

If you feel yourself losing patience and behaving in angry ways toward your child, ask your partner, a friend, or your child’s caregiver to help you until you regain some balance. If your child’s behavior has you perplexed or confused, don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician for advice or reassurance.

Other parents, most of whom have experienced or know of similar situations, can also provide insight or offer you a fresh perspective. Parenting classes are another excellent source of information on specific bathroom-related challenges.

Remember—both you and your child are eager for her to move forward in her development, but only you can provide the outside resources she may need to progress.

Last Updated
Guide to Toilet Training (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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