You Can Lead a Toddler to the Potty…

Parents, especially mommies, seem to love comparing notes on potty training of their children.  Or do we dread it?  Whichever is the truth, we still inevitably talk about it and end up feeling either extremely triumphant, totally defeated, or unfazed and willing to let nature take its course.

How I feel when I discuss this hot topic depends, of course, on how the potty training is going that day.  Anna and I reached a stalemate a few months ago, when she had absolutely no interest or willingness to even try unless it was right before her bath.  She is, however, very accurate and vocal about letting me know when she is “going” in her diaper.  I guess that’s a step in the right direction.

When she got to the halfway point between being 2 and 3, I decided something needed to change.  Some incentive might be necessary.   I had my “Aha!” moment a few weeks ago when we were playing with a small wallet of mine I’d given her to keep pictures or little coupon cards.  She kept saying how much she wanted to get a bigger wallet, but I tried to tell her that her birthday was pretty far away and that the one she had was still really good and pretty.  Then, I told her we could pick out a new one if she sat on the potty 100 times.  In retrospect, I set the bar pretty high, and will probably cut that at least in half.  Having no concept of how many 100 is, her eyes lit up and she immediately wanted to go try to use the bathroom!  I had broken the stalemate; this was the most progress we’d had in months!

I keep track of how many times she visits the potty on an envelope that stays on the bathroom counter.  Since the initial flurry of excitement, her enthusiasm has slowed, but whenever I remind her of her goal, she is usually willing to go try again.  To date, she has sat on the potty 28 times since April 17.  Not a single drop of anything has fallen into the bowl.  But every time she sits, it counts, and I’ve decided that when she finally does produce something, anything, I will count it five or ten times towards her goal.  For the record, the small wallet she has now is from Vera Bradley, and I’ve already told her of the countless bright, paisley patterns there will be in the store from which to choose her new wallet. This always makes her smile.

More than even the actual potty training, I am more excited that Anna is learning a bit about wanting something, figuring out a way to work for it, and achieving it!  Goals are good for all of us–there is a starting point, a method to follow, and an ending point.  As we grow older, we need to keep goals in our lives.  So much of our daily existence is open-ended, or done in a long-term sense.  We have cycles that repeat in our work, projects that loom in a seemingly endless fashion, and oftentimes very vague things we want to accomplish on a personal level.

This blog had been a goal of mine for a few months before I finally sat down and just started it.  I tend to wait and put things off until everything is “just right”, or until I have worked up the courage to do it.  My writing is not perfect.  I’m sure I could go back and change dozens of things about everything I’ve written so far here.  Even this blog site has goals for me:  when I first started, my goal was five posts.  Now, it is ten, and so on.  I like that, because it really encourages me to just keep writing.  It is a form of accountability, and it helps me to think about what’s going on around me in terms of my writing.

I have no doubt that Anna will be a fully potty trained little girl soon enough, and I also have no doubt that her biggest obstacle is her own stubborn will (just like her brother).  Reminding her of her prize, which she definitely still values highly, is helping.  I suppose I don’t really have a prize for writing, nor any negative consequences for not writing–my greatest reward in this is knowing that perhaps something I’ve written has blessed, encouraged, helped, or cheered somebody, and knowing that I am in some small way giving back to God something He has given to me!

What goals do you have in your life right now?  What can you do today to make progress?  Who or what is encouraging you to keep going?  Who can you encourage to keep going?

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