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Lessons Learned From Potty Training My Toddler

Lessons Learned From Potty Training My Toddler

I began potty training my toddler today. 

He is turning 3 in a few short months. According to all the books, I've waited a bit too long to start. I had my reasons for starting late -- his speech delay, the birth of my daughter, extenuating circumstances with my family. All of it led me to the conclusion that waiting would be better. For what it's worth, I don't regret it. 

My lack of regret doesn't change the reality that today sucked. In fact, it was probably one of the hardest days I've had with my son since he was born. I'm sure that was due, in part, to the fact that I missed "the window" ... but let's not linger on things we can't change. 

I actually don't want to spend my time with you today speaking about the challenges we had. If you have potty trained a little one before, or have let yourself think for a minute on what potty training might be like one day, you already know the challenges. Our day was just as disgusting as you've already surmised it would be. My carpet will NEVER be the same again. 

But like I said, that's not why I'm here. I want to talk to you about how truly mesmerized I was by my child today. I want to tell you what it was like, for the first time in my life, to be utterly schooled by a two year old. 

Today, my son woke up to his whole world being turned upside down. This little boy, who has never known life without a diaper, arose this morning to learn that the diapers are no more. Throughout his day, he encountered new and terrifying things. 


A potty seat. 

The concept of "not peeing on the floor."

Disapproval for peeing on the floor. 

Such a vast number of things he had never experienced before, and he had no time to mentally prepare. And yet, today my son conquered each of these things with courage and grace. He didn't insist, as I often do, on things remaining the way he's always known them. 

He didn't become rigid and inflexible, as I do when new things are scary. 

He didn't make excuses, like me when I don't think I can do something hard. 

He just did it. 

My brave, sweet, extraordinary child conquered the biggest obstacle he has ever faced. And you know what else? He did it with a positive attitude. Full of optimism, he took on his tiny failures throughout the day with grace -- recognizing that he would get it eventually. And when he finally figured it out, boy did he celebrate. That boy danced, high-fived, and shouted for joy like only a child can. 

And in so doing, he humbled me. 

I can't imagine how different my life would be if I tackled new and scary things like my son did today. I wonder how many doors would have opened for me if I had faced obstacles like he did -- with a spirit of bravery and optimism. I wonder how many times in my life I woke up and said, "I didn't ask for this today," and let good things pass me by. How many times did I throw in the towel because I was scared, intimidated, or convinced that I just couldn't do it? 

Today, I decided to start living my life with the bravery that seems to come so naturally so my two year old. I decided that if my incredible little boy can conquer the scariest thing he has ever faced with a positive attitude, then I certainly can too. 

I can overcome the hard things in my life. 

I can smile when things are scary. 

I can trust the people who love me, even when things don't make sense. 

I can refuse to let failure stop me, and I can refuse to be identified by it. 

I can celebrate hard when I succeed. 

I can conquer anything. 

I'm so thankful for the lessons I learned from my two year old today. And what an extraordinary little boy he is. 

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Angelia Schaefer - June 22, 2019

Thank you for your story. I am not sure if you remember me but you suggested for me to buy the ‘Oh Crap’ potty book on Instagram. I am about to “really” start this journey with my 3 year old and I am more optimistic about it after reading that book. I have tried in the past but gave up bc it does get frustrating. But now knowing what I know, that this is all a learning experience for him and I, I am ready for it. So thank you again for sharing your story and you suggestion on the book. LYMIA!! ❤

Dayna Lopez - June 22, 2019

Thank you for sharing this. My oldest son was relatively easy to train. I too waited, but I don’t have any regrets on that. We never did the naked potty training, I don’t think I could. My 19 month old daughter on the other hand is showing signs of readiness, but only for poop. She is super stubborn so I’m a little fearful of how it will go.

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