Don’t Do This

Negative feedback may not be such a good thing.

So, indeed there was trouble.  But it wasn’t because the boy conspired with the girl to thwart our potty-training efforts.  It was because I took some bad advise.

I’d been told by one individual how hard potty training had been going for her, because she was such a softie with her child.  And I’d been told by another individual that the best way to potty train was in a full on all-or-nothing commitment, with rewards and negative reinforcement.

We’d decided to try out the all-or-nothing tactic, complete with negative reinforcement for mistakes.  I’d scheduled some time off from work, and watched Maddie with an eagle eye.  We asked her if she wanted to go potty every 20 minutes or so, and praised her when she did, but when she had an accident, she was given a firm reprimand, even a swat or two on the bottom.

She did indeed pick up on potty training quickly.  But even if the negative reinforcement helped in that regard, it wasn’t worth it, and we’re not going to use it on our next child.  There was a short period where Maddie really withdrew from her normal fun-loving self.  She stopped eating, drinking and playing like she used to.  And I’m talking about a couple of days.  It’s hard for me to write objectively about this.  Maddie’s change in behavior freaked us out, and I felt awful.  I spent the next few days trying to undo the damage I’d done.  And although she’s now a wonderful, happy little potty-trained girl, I still regret the path we took to get her here.

Here’s the best advise we got, regarding potty training:  Create a chart with a few rows of 10 spaces or so.  Get some stickers your child likes, and each time they successfully use the potty, allow them to put a sticker on a space in the chart.  When a row is filled with stickers, the child gets a modest but special reward.

Who We Were Then
  • David
  • Lillian
  • Maddie (2 years old)
  • Aaron (0 years old)