Local Expert: Texas Mom Faces Life in Prison Over Toilet Training, What Can …

I was reading the very sad story about the Texas mother who pleaded guilty to injury to a child last week. As you might remember, last year she glued her 2-year-old daughter’s hands to a wall and beat her (leaving her in a coma for two days) over what Dallas police report, “being mad about potty training problems.” 

This horrifying story seems impossible to imagine to most of us parents, but truthfully, and not that I’m excusing her behavior for a second, learning to use the toilet can be one of the most frustrating experiences that parents have to undergo with their young children.

If a child goes in the toilet once, it’s easy to think that if they don’t do it again, the child is deliberately manipulating their parent by withholding going. Remember, you cannot train a child to use the toilet. It is a learned developmental task and it takes time and practice, with lots of mistakes, just like learning to roll-over, use a spoon, walk or talk.

I think once parents understand that learning to use the toilet has much more to do with biology, rather than psychology, it can lower their frustration when their child seemingly doesn’t do it right. And just like every other thing your child has to learn, each child does it at their own pace.

Two years old is rather early to accomplish toilet learning, so relax parents, and let your children learn about their own body at their own rate, instead of expecting them to be able to do this at a certain age. There is nothing wrong with helping your children as long as they need by changing their diaper in the bathroom, making sure that the bathroom is the warmest place in your home and continuing to look for dry diapers as a sign that they are getting the hang of it.

If the Texas mom understood that only her daughter could decide when she was ready to use the toilet, maybe she wouldn’t have lost control and assumed that she had to punish her child into toilet learning. So when frustration hits, as it does with all of us, remember to take a deep breath, blow it out and remember to be patient as your children work on all of the skills that they have to learn in early childhood. 

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Dr. Ann Corwin, known to many as “The Parenting Doctor,” has made it her life’s work to develop practical parenting programs for parents and children. With a Ph.D. in Marriage, Family and Child Therapy, a Master’s Degree in Education and more than 30 years of experience in parenting consulting and child development education, she has helped thousands of parents with children from birth to five years and beyond. Dr. Ann focuses on prevention and helping families learn to help themselves. Her parenting skills development workshops and parent coaching programs have immediate solutions to child discipline behavior issues, such as hitting and biting; respect and discipline; poor sleeping habits; relationships and school; toilet learning; new siblings and sibling rivalry; separation anxiety and much more. To learn more about Dr. Ann and her popular Parenting Passport (a logical, simple-to-implement discipline plan that will get you instant results), visit www.theparentingdoctor.com.

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