Am I Pushing My Toddler Too Hard?


So we’ve officially failed at potty training, or at least the first round of it. After spending well over a month trying to coax my toddler onto the potty, bribing him with candy, and even going as far as letting him watch me do my own business for motivation, I’ve decided to table the toilet training for the time being.

In reality, I probably should’ve given up after the first week. My son, from the get-go, was more than simply not interested in going to the potty, he was actually frightened to use it. My mother insisted that he just wasn’t ready. His teachers at daycare confirmed this, as their attempts to help our efforts were met with resistance.

And yet I pushed. I pushed him for over a month, at 2.5 years old, when all around me, fellow parents with children six months older than mine reassured me that they’d yet to start potty training because their children, too, just weren’t ready. I pushed because I thought he could do it, and because I wanted him to do it.

But here we are, back at square one.

The thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. Back when my son was a few months old, I tried, on countless occasions, to get him to roll over during tummy time, even though his pediatrician insisted that he was well within the normal range for not yet taking that step. I was equally persistent when I wanted him to crawl, and then stand, and then walk.

But my son has always been true to his pattern: When he decides he wants to do something, he just does it. It’s like a switch going off inside his head. I know this about him, and yet for some reason I have a hard time just letting things be.

To be fair, I treat my son no differently than I do myself. When you take a person like me, with naturally high self-expectations, and combine that with an inherent stubbornness, it’s not a far stretch to think that I might be one of those parents who’s constantly pushing her child to do more. The difference is that I’m an adult, and it’s OK to impose certain goals and standards upon myself; I’m not so sure it’s OK to do the same thing to a child who’s only 2.5.

Don’t get me wrong–stepping outside our respective comfort zones is something that I think becomes increasingly important as we get older. But I’m also trying to be reasonable. My son isn’t an adult, or a young adult, or a teenager, or even a kindergartener. He’s a 2.5-year-old toddler who’s still trying to figure out how to process basic thoughts, ideas, and emotions. He’s not an infant, but he’s still, in many regards, a baby, and at this stage of his life I think he needs support, attention, and reassurance more than he needs to be pushed to accomplish and achieve.

So this is me, the demanding, determined mom, pledging to try to take things down a notch, for my son’s sake as well as my own. Besides, as my grandmother likes to say, no man that she knows of has ever walked down the aisle in diapers, so somewhere along the line, I suppose these things just have a way of falling into place.

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Maurie Backman

Maurie Backman lives in Central New Jersey. Between her active toddler, twin baby girls, and yappy dog, she gets more than her fair share of noise. Maurie currently works as a freelance content writer and editor, and enjoys creating works of fiction. She also bakes way too often.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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