Making Potty Training into Play Time

My three-year-old was getting better at using the potty, but he would end up wetting his pants once in a while.

One day, in a supermarket while trying to get grocery shopping done quickly, he started wiggling like he needed to go potty. I asked him to use the bathroom.  He was very reluctant, acting like a dog refusing to move despite a tug of the leash.

I was tempted to try persuasion, negotiation or bribery, but decided to suggest Special Time instead.  It was a busy morning and I wanted to “fill his cup” first, even though it felt like I couldn’t afford the time.

I said, “We can play whatever you want.  We don’t have a timer, so let’s do a three-minute Special Time until that clock shows 11:45.”  He agreed very happily.

For his Special Time, he told me to be a horse, so I went down on all fours on the supermarket floor in front of the bathroom with my son on my back.  I wasn’t sure what others in the store would think of me!

But after about half a minute of horsy ride in front of the bathroom, my son announced the end of Special Time, saying, “Ring, ring, timer!  Let’s go potty!”  though his time wasn’t up yet.

And after this brief connection in play, my three-year-old went into the bathroom and used the potty successfully.

—Keiko Sato-Perry, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor

Keiko Sato-Perry

Join Keiko in her upcoming Building Emotional Understanding online class starting April 22.  Register now!

Listen to a podcast of a recent teleseminar “Parenting: Going Deeper”, in which Keiko presented.

You can read more of Keiko’s stories here and learn more about Parenting by Connection in the Listening to Children booklet set.

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