Parenting & Families

When the Diapers Gotta Go

Ever wonder how old is too old for a child to wear a diaper? Often, a child remains in diapers not because of an inability to be potty trained, but because the parent isn’t ready to let go a little bit. For a parent, having a child in diapers can be symbolic. It’s what defines a “baby.” Sometimes Mom or Dad or both aren’t ready to give up their “baby ” just yet.

It can be an emotional or trying time full of feelings of loss. But what effects does holding a child back from potty training have on the child?

Potty training is a natural process. It’s a natural development that children encounter along their path of growing. After all, except for a medical condition, no one attends his own wedding wearing diapers. Every person becomes potty trained eventually. In the past, when things didn’t have to be so structured, parents allowed their children to go without diapers. This allowed the child to learn naturally.

While societal pressures discourage this today, psychological pressures can discourage potty training altogether.

Parents may hesitate with potty training for a number of reasons. They may have only had girls previously and this child is a boy…or vice-versa. Perhaps the child doesn’t seem ready. Or the parents may feel they do not know how to potty train a child, so they avoid the task.

The easiest way to potty train a child is the natural way. A child left to his own devices will begin to imitate his parents. It’s called social modeling. Modeling occurs when a child is in a transition of giving up one thing that feels good to them, or is secure, for another thing that offers the same feelings. So if parents make it worthwhile to give up the security of the diaper, the process is much smoother.

Here are some useful tips to build the self-confidence and trust necessary for a trusting and productive parent/child relationship:

·  Negative reinforcement is destructive. That means no stern looks, no yelling or
getting upset. A young child can sense negativity even if it is not verbalized.”

·  Watch for signs that your child is ready. Toddlers may indicate their readiness by exhibiting various behaviors such as investigating the potty, attempting to mimic parent’s “bathroom” actions or even removing their diaper when they feel the urge to relieve themselves. When a parent sees these behaviors, they should allow their child to express these actions in an open and accepting environment.

·  Don’t inadvertently hold your toddler back. Sometimes a parent dealing with the youngest or last child in a family will hesitate to acknowledge the fact that the child is ready for potty training. Below the surface, they’re trying to keep the child younger longer because the parents will want to hang on to the dependency that children have.

·  Stay positive even if you feel crummy about it. A parent must feel pride in having helped their toddler to grow and mature. Projecting those feelings is a boon to the child’s self-esteem and confidence. In addition, the child will learn to trust the mother’s words, actions and reactions to what he does.

·  Consider this a milestone not a roadblock. Potty training is as inevitable as a child learning to walk and talk. The important thing is to let it happen in a natural way and it will. Holding them back can be as damaging as forcing them. A child will look up to the eyes of a parent to see their reaction in order to know how to proceed – forward or back. If he sees or senses negativity, he will withdraw into what he feels is safe, based upon a parent’s reaction.

Potty training is a transition for a child but also for a parent and transitional processes can be hard – emotionally, physically and mentally. If done properly, potty training can open up a new experience in which the parent can take joy in. A child grows up to become a teen and then an adult and will have accomplishments and a life of his own. It can be distressing to parents to lose their baby. A child may not be a ‘child’ anymore, but a parent stays a parent – always.