Help! My Family Interferes With Potty Training
“Violet, I don’t know what to do. I’m teaching my child to go potty and I’m thrilled with his progress so far. But my mother-in-law interferes with potty training. She bribes him with candy if he’ll ‘go,’ and she tells him he’s a baby if he has accidents. What do I do?”
This was in my messages this morning. And it’s not the first client or the first time. Clients tell me that relatives and friends try to “help” with toilet training in some traditional, but ineffective, ways. Sometimes, the “help” they offer can even be damaging.
I get it. You love your mother or mother-in-law or your best friend. Usually, you welcome their advice. Yet you know they could be damaging your child’s progress on the potty. What do you do?
Here are some common ways well-meaning loved ones may get in the way of your little one’s progress, plus how to talk to them about it.
In This Article
- Why Do They Interfere?
- Ways Friends Interfere
- How to Talk to Your “Helper”
- If Your Child Really Is Struggling
Why Do They Interfere?
Your loved ones are supposed to support you. So what on earth is up with them deciding they know better than you do about your child’s potty training?
Actually, the most likely answer is that they care. Well-meaning friends may try to “set you straight” on potty training. And of course, more commonly than you may think, your mother or in-laws may interfere. They worry that you’re overworked with diapers and pull-up pants. And they want your child to “grow up.”
Try to take advice in the spirit in which it’s intended. I know that’s hard, but your friends really do think they’re helping.
From speaking to my clients (and being a mom myself), a few reasons for this type of interference include:
- They believe they know what’s best for you and your child
- They worry your child “won’t grow up”
- They think the old ways are always best
- They’re just looking for a topic of conversation (yes, really)
- A technique worked beautifully for their child and they want to spread the word
Ways Friends Interfere With Potty Training
I really do hate to use the word “interfere” when it’s likely they want what’s best for you. But it feels like interference…and in short, well, it is.
Here are some ways that a well-meaning advisor might thwart your potty training efforts with your child:
- Bribery: “If you wee for Grandma, I’ll give you a piece of candy.”
- Shaming: “Big girls don’t go in their pants.”
- Correcting you: “Don’t help him with those pants, he needs to learn.”
- Comparisons: “You know, his cousin was potty trained at 18 months.”
- Covert ops: Speaks to your spouse about your training methods.
How to Talk to Your “Helper”
Some of the following may seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re irritated at this point. (After enough comments, who wouldn’t be?) But always keep in mind that your loved one really thinks they’re helping.
Consider these tips:
- Try not to feel insulted. Your friend isn’t necessarily saying you don’t know how to potty train your child. They are probably coming from a place of trying to help.
- Find a special time to talk. Don’t discuss potty training in front of your toddler. This may be confusing to them.
- Open up. Let them know what you’ve learned about the science of potty training.
- Ask your spouse/partner to be on board. If they agree with your “helper” in front of others or your child, let them know in private that this could be derailing your child’s progress and that you need to stand as a couple. Make sure you say this as a couple, too. No “you,” it should be “us” and “we.”
- If you are trying a toilet training program, stick with the program. Switching things up makes you seem less genuine and may make your child trust you less.
If Your Child Really Is Struggling
Sometimes words cut deepest because there’s an element of truth. No judgment here — potty training isn’t always a walk in the park. If you’re worried about your child’s toilet training (and that does mean you…not someone else’s input), it may be time to call in the experts.
Whether or not a loved one interferes with potty training, your own concerns are valid. I can help. I have guided thousands of families to potty training success. My 3-Day Potty Plan and one-on-one help can be your child’s ticket to success!