What does a psychologist have to do with potty training?

Psychologists understand learning theory and behavior management

  • We learn through successive approximations, or baby steps toward our end goal.
  • Making mistakes is part of the learning process.
  • We learn best with positive reinforcement.
  • Internal motivation is the strongest kind.

But psychologists also know the limits of behavioral methods. 

  • Most people accept the need to make mistakes, but hate to clean up potty accidents.
  • Anxiety (yours or your child’s) can interfere with potty training.
  • Background factors like marital problems, sibling issues, and household stress play a role.
  • Children commonly behave one way at school, and another at home. It’s not always effortless for parents and teachers to work as a team.

I’m also a parent. I’ve lived through potty training in my own home twice, so I know all sorts of practical tips to help along the way.

  • Potty training goes best if you adjust your child’s wardrobe first.
  • Pull-ups can be a helpful tool if you present them in the right way. They can backfire if your child doesn’t differentiate them from diapers.
  • Not all mattress pads are created equal.
  • Well before kids are ready to potty train, you can introduce the concept.
  • As much as you dread those kid potties, they might end up saving your carpets.