Effective potty training carried out at the right age can have numerous benefits on a child's life and personality. According to Dr. Schmitt, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and medical director of the Encopresis-Enuresis Clinic, effective potty training teaches the child an important life skill as well as helping shape her character. Done properly, it can improve the little one's self-confidence and grant her the independence she will need later in life. However, bad potty training can work in the opposite way. It can lead to several long-term issues that may be difficult to solve.
According to Dr. Stavinoha, co-author of "Stress Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child," bad potty training can sometimes cause the child severe psychological trauma. If parents punish their child for not following their example correctly and for making mistakes during training, this can delay the process and leave serious problems behind. Since the child is especially fragile during this time of her life, parents should ensure that punishment and shame are never parts of the training's strategy. This way, the child will come out of the process feeling secure and confident.
Sometimes, parents have such high expectations during potty training that the child becomes overwhelmed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents often expect to complete their little one's training quickly and without problems, which leads to them becoming frustrated and impatient when their plan doesn't work out. As a result, the child may feel like she is disappointing her parents or get the impression that she's unable to do what is asked of her. This can in cases lead to strong feelings of inadequacy that not only delay the process, as they can lead to the child refusing to use the potty, but are also difficult to shake off in the future.
Recurring failure, mistakes and delays can also cause parents a great deal of frustration, and as a result, the feeling of embarrassment and insecurity in the child. The more parents become frustrated and look disappointed by how long the process is taking, the more the child may withdraw into herself and feel embarrassed and timid. According to the University of Michigan Health System, parents should praise their child as much as they can, even when training is taking longer than they originally hoped it would. Also, they are advised to never push their little one to sit on the potty, unless she has expressed the desire to and unless she is ready for it. Lack of encouragement, as well as extreme persistence on behalf of the parents, can lead to the child feeling insecure later in her life.
According to Angela Oswalt, MSW, Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., at MentalHelp.net, certain physical disorders can also result in problems occurring during potty training, which then may have long-term psychological effects on the child. If the young one experiences pain during training, accidents and setbacks are likely to happen. Parents are expected to be able to see through this kind of delay and to help their child relax and feel comfortable using the potty. This way, the child will recover and possibly start feeling more at ease. If, however, parents make their little one feel pressured or stressed, this may well cause anxiety and even strong fear of the toilet. Such emotional disorders can burden the child even during her adult years.
- Mental Help: How to Deal with Toilet Training Challenges
- University of Michigan Health System: Toilet Training
- American Business Media: Toilet Training - Getting it Right the First Time
- Huffington Post: Interview with A Potty Training Expert
- Adults Surviving Child Abuse: Impact of Child Abuse
- Practice Guide: Toilet Training