Sunday, October 18, 2015

Potty Training

Potty training made me realize that parenting was going to be a bit more complicated than I anticipated.

Before I had children, I determined that they would be well behaved and obedient; they would have good manners, excel in school and be all around good children, all because this is what I wanted.

And then I had children.

Potty training the first child - my son, was a bit of an adventure. Everyone said boys are harder than girls so I anticipated some difficulty. It was a Saturday and I placed him in underpants. I told him when he had to use the bathroom to go to the potty or to let me know when he had to go;  at this point in time I don't remember. What I do remember was him not understanding initially, so when he had to go, he stood right where he was and made a puddle.  I remember spanking him on the butt and telling him the next time he has to go, go to the bathroom. Well that spank worked, and by the end of the day he had the hang of it and there were no more accidents. Soon he was potty trained.

Looking back- I realized that this child wanted to please.

Then came my first daughter. Potty training her was a non-event. It was time to be a big girl, and a big girl she became. I don't remember any accidents or protracted discussions.

Looking back - I realized this child was efficient.

So by now when the third child comes along I figure I'm a pro at potty training. I've potty trained two children and we're still standing. I approach potty training this child, a girl, with confidence, which I would soon learn was misplaced. I did everything I did with the first two but nothing worked; absolutely nothing. This child was content to wallow around in her filth even though she knew it was time to be a big girl. I remember giving up and saying to myself, "I've never seen an 18 year old in diapers, so I'm sure we'll eventually figure this out." What saved me was her preschool teacher; basically she had more patience than I.

Looking back - I realized this child was strong-willed.


Before potty training, I never took in to account the individual personalities of each child. After potty training I was keenly aware of this and learned that the approach needs to be tailored based on the child. I'm glad I had this light-bulb moment when they were quite young. Though we are all made in the image of God, each of us has our own unique personality - we are variations on a theme. I realized that I couldn't rely solely on my knowledge, but I had to rely on the One who made these children. The point was, whenever I thought I knew something, I was humbled by a child teaching me to do things a different way. The child was never in charge, but as a parent I was willing to make adjustments to get the best result.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 [NLT]

Did you learn anything profound from potty training your children? What preconceived notions did you have about parenting before becoming a parent?

Update - I have 4 children; it's not that I didn't learn anything from potty training her but she is a work in progress so I didn't mention her. By the time she came around I learned not to rely on prior knowledge but to approach this with no pre-conceived notions. She is not as strong-willed as child #3, but seems to be a combination of #1 and #2. Suffice it to say, I did not forget her. To my attentive readers - thank you for noticing.


  1. You've left me hanging! What about the fourth child???!!!

    We are variations on a theme. Created in His image yet individual and unique. The more work I do as a Gallup Strengths Coach, the more I see this - we all have a different combination of the characteristics of God!

  2. This was an excellent post. ". . . 18 year old in diapers . . . " I would never have thought about attributing potting training success with personality. In my mind, potty training was just something that had to be taught regardless of personality. But in hindsight, the correlation is a good one. Therefore, in my case that would mean, #1 was one to do his own thing, in his own time, in his own way and #2 was a quick study.

    As I read your post, I, too, wondered about your #4 child but by the time I read this (10/25), you had already addressed the question in the update.



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