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  Parenting Advice Column
  Subject: Will child ever potty-train?

Question:

I read a little about what you said on potty training, "don't worry" and "don't think just because the older child did it at a younger age something is wrong". OK, I don't.

I know that my youngest is a little stubborn, but I know that she is ready and I know she can do it, it is just that she won't. What can I do to help her decide that it is time to stop being stubborn and use the potty? Please help me before I have a 20-year-old still in Pampers!!!!! Thanks for your much-needed advice. PS I am going broke buying Pampers (ha-ha).

Name withheld


Jan's Reply:

Hi,

Thanks for writing. You haven't told me your child's age, so I will answer in general terms. While it may appear to us that a child is ready to move on to the next stage, it is only the child who can really know this. She may give all the outward appearance of being ready and capable, yet there must be a reason that she is, in fact, not ready. There really is no way that we can "know" what is happening within any other person, we can only make educated guesses. Please trust your child to let you know when she is ready - not only for potty training, but for every stage of her life.

Readiness is not only physiological - it always involves the child's feelings about how the situation is being perceived and handled by the parents and others. Even though she may be physiologically ready, she may be feeling pressured to "perform". No one of any age likes to feel that someone else is impatiently waiting for a "performance". Children who are consistently pressured to move faster than they are comfortable with moving, may become adults who always feel pressured, and who rebel at all requests from others. I'm sure you can see from this that we as parents need to accept our children "as is", and allow them the dignity of making their own determination as to their schedule of development.

Each child has his/her own built-in schedule, which we would do well to respect and trust. Please read my article on learning disabilities. Though the topic is different, the underlying message is the same - trusting a child's natural rate of development. If you can bring yourself to relax and stop worrying, that may in fact be all that she needs to move on to the next step.

When a child appears to be at a standstill, it can feel to the parent that nothing will ever change. When you find yourself worrying about a child's "slowness" to move on, remember, "this too shall pass"! In later years, you won't believe how fast her childhood went. When she's twenty, you'll look back and wonder where her childhood went. Relax and enjoy it while you can.

Jan

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