The comparison game: potty training

The number one rule of parenting is (or at least should be): Don’t compare your child with anyone else’s.  That’s my philosophy; however, it’s not always my practice.  It’s a very tricky thing.  I don’t want to compare her to everyone else.  But, I also want to know that she’s normal and acting accordingly.  So, it gets tricky.

Right now I’m feeling that way about potty training.  I knew it would be frustrating and take patience.  I had these lofty dreams that my child would take to it right away.  She was interested in it; she has great communication skills; she doesn’t like to be dirty.  It was all working together in my mind to make for a magically, easily potty trained child.  And, of course, that didn’t happen.  I can hear some experienced moms snicker knowingly as they read this.  That’s OK.  Snicker away.


So, of course, then I started thinking about how other kids were potty training.  Some are doing better than mine.  Some are doing worse.  It’s all over the board.  It’s not something I’ve talked much about, mainly because I assumed that if it didn’t happen easily within these first couple of months that I was at fault.

Yesterday afternoon I watched part of an episode of Rachael Ray’s show talking about potty training that I had DVRed on Monday.  Turns out I’m not so alone.  When the pediatrician on the show said this is a milestone activity for children and it’s not a reflection of parenting, I thought I might cry.  I didn’t even know I’d been beating myself up that much about potty training in the first place.  Evidently I had.  And when she said that most girls potty train between 2 and 2-1/2, I also felt better.  My kiddo won’t be 2 for a couple more weeks.  We’re not behind.

I immediately thought back to her learning to walk.  When it seemed like every other kid in her age group was walking around, my cautious child was still not letting go of furniture and walking on her knees.  She was almost 14 months old before she walked on her own.  I know other kids who were walking by the time they were 10 months old.  But, it’s a milestone sort of thing.  Of course I worried if she’d ever get it.  Of course I worried if there was something else I should be doing.  She did get it.  And, I don’t think there was anything else I needed to have done.

I have a feeling that this potty training thing is going to be the same way.  Yes, there are times that I need to be more persistent about it.  (I readily admit that I have times where I don’t even mention the potty chair because I don’t want to deal with it either.  It takes much longer than just quickly changing a diaper.)  But, I think we are on the right track.  And I don’t need to compare her to other kids her age.   It really is all in her timing.  Did I think she’d be out of diapers by her second birthday?  Honestly, I did.  Am I going to beat myself up about it because she’s not?  A little bit, but then I’m going to remind myself of all these things that I’ve just written.  It is OK.  Potty training is hard work.  It is frustrating.  But, it happens.  It’s sort of like rolling over and walking and talking and all the other milestones out there.  Everyone who is physically able learns to do these things.  I don’t get stuck in my bed unable to roll over.  I learned how.  I get up and walk around my house because I learned how.  I talk, I type, I read, I sing, I use the toilet because I learned how.  My daughter will be the same way.  I need to do my job to guide her, but I also need to just relax and trust the process.  I have some ideas to step up our training from where we’ve been.  However, I also know that she will learn in her own way and own time.

I just need to learn to enjoy the ride along the way and stop myself from worrying about what other kids are doing.

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