Word of Advice to Potty-Training Parents
Yesterday I had the chance to chat with one of our advisors, Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block (one of my all-time favorite parenting books). I told him how Lila’s doing with potty training and he asked, “And you’re not going overboard with the praise, right?” Umm… why, yes, I believe I am. He explained why that can backfire: If you make a huge deal out of it every time your child goes to the bathroom, she starts thinking along these lines: “Wow, this is really important to them. I can’t handle the pressure. I’m not even going to try anymore.” Or your child might realize that she’s got the upper hand in this situation, and embark on a power play by not going on the potty.
Instead, Dr. Karp recommends a technique he calls “gossiping,” where you tell others how great your child is doing. (Do it in a whisper right in front of your child, to give her the impression that you don’t realize she’s listening to the “conversation.”) I actually did this the other night, when I told her favorite duck how Lila let me know at the birthday party that she was ready to use the potty. She then handed me her sheep, Pillow Pet, and turtle so that I could tell them the story, too. So from now on I’ll do more gossiping and dial down the unbridled enthusiasm after each trip to the potty.