Toilet Training

Toileting: Discipline Issue or Not?

December 10th, 2013

Sometimes power struggles that seem like discipline issues are not really discipline issues, but are rather issues of autonomy. Whose body is it, anyway? You can’t force your child to use the toilet?  And perhaps this is really not an issue of discipline, but an opportunity for fostering independence and growth in your child. Who should have say over your child’s body—you or them?

The age for starting toilet-training in children varies greatly by culture. Toilet training should come from an internal place within your child where they feel like a big boy or a big girl and want to give up their diapers to use the toilet. In addition, toilet training should only be encouraged when your child has the bladder and bowel muscles to control their bodily functions. When adults impose an arbitrary age at which to begin toilet training,  a child’s self-concept and a child’s body may not be ready to move on to a more mature place.

Power struggles over your child’s toileting are counterproductive. Toileting issues should not be considered discipline issues, but opportunities for children to feel positive about their bodies and their maturing into big boys and girls. Toileting experiences should be experiences whereby parents are partners in encouraging their children to feel like big boys and girls that want to use the toilet.

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