Don't You Wish You Had a Redo Button?

Have you ever wished you could press a re-do button? Maybe you yelled at your daughter today, snapped at your husband, blamed someone for misplacing your keys, or worse blaming someone for taking your sunglasses that are sitting on top of your head! If I asked you if you had a re-do button, I hope the answer is “absolutely!!!!”


Small children are so forgiving and this easy, yet powerful tool will allow you to be silly with your child and set you on the right track. So here it goes:


Say your son spilled a carton of milk all over the dining room table and you yell at him, “Why didn’t you ask for help? You knew that carton was completely full?! I can't believe you would do such a thing.” Guilt sets in and mistakes happen. What do you do? 


Get down closely at your son’s level and look him in the eye. It is not always easy for us adults to admit fault, but what great modeling this is for our children. So apologize and ask if you both could press your re-do buttons. If he says “yes” poke your belly and shake all the guilt away, literally shake all over and yell “re-do.” Hopefully, he will join in with you. Now, for the re-do to really work, you must say in that moment what you really wanted to say to your son when he dropped the milk. For example, you might say. "Oops, I noticed the milk spilled. Do you know what to do? Let's clean the milk up together." 


The courage to be silly, have humor, admit fault, and connect with your child all at the same time is turning point for that moment. A turning point to be able to move on or the alternative is to continue down a shame path. When we as parents keep on doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result, we will be failed every time. And when we say we don’t have time, we are really saying we have the time to continue to do the things that don’t work. Kids are scientific and are open to new ways of growing and learning. So be child-like today and the next time there is a conflict, press your “re-do” button and have a little laugh.

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Dissapointments Build Muscles

My son had a Pokémon outing with one of his good friends, who had only cards with stronger attacks and more damage, I really don’t know what that means. However, when we came back home, my son in almost tears told me, “My friends get Pokémon all the time, why don’t you buy me Pokémon cards?”

I told him “You must feel really hurt and maybe a little embarrassed that you don’t have as “high” of cards as your friends. I love you very much and I like to show you all my love in different ways because I want you to feel responsible and independent and know that you can buy your own Pokémon. When you are ready, I would love to talk more about ideas of how you can buy your own Pokémon. I know this is important to you and I have confidence you will figure out a plan.” as I pointed to the list of extra chores he could do around the house to earn money. My son, literally like a light switch, grabbed a marker, a poster, and asked me “how much can I get for mopping the floors?” He drew pictures of himself mopping the floors and wrote down 50 cents for each level of the house he mopped. Then he went through every chore: 1.) vacuuming- 50 cents per rug; 2.) baseboards- 50 cents per level of house; 3.) pulling weeds- based on work completed; 4.) dusting- 50 cents per level of house and so on. He hung up his picture on the wall and immediately started wiping down the stairs, vacuuming the rugs, and started pulling weeds. Here is the thing, he was so excited about what he had accomplished that he completely forgot that he wanted Pokémon cards! My son felt significant, capable, responsible, and independent. And his piggy bank was a little bit fuller.


Things don’t always happen this smoothly in my house, not even close. Fortunately, I saw this conversation coming and I was prepared for my answer.


You are not responsible for your children’s happiness. It is important to build their disappointment muscles or resiliency muscles. The disappointments in life are small when are children are young. It is important that they learn to cope with those disappointments as a child and know that there will continue to be disappointments as they get older. As our children become more independent as they grow, these disappointments also get bigger.


Disappointments are beneficial for our children. Learning to deal with setbacks helps them develop characteristics to succeed, like coping skills, emotional resilience, creative thinking, and the ability to collaborate. A study by researchers at the University of Arizona found that kids who were over-parented and weren't disappointed had an exaggerated sense of entitlement. They became adults who were less confident about overcoming challenges.


As Susan Stiffelman from “Parenting Without Power Struggles” says, “our ability to live joyful and successful lives depends on our ability to adapt. Our happiness does not depend on how smooth and easy our lives are, or how many times we tell ourselves to be happy, but our ability to adapt to all kinds of conflicts thrown our way. So, it is important for us as parents to not manage our children, or manage their behaviors, but to help them manage themselves and their feelings, even when they are disappointed so they may also adapt. And who knows maybe you will have your house cleaned, well at least for that day! Enjoy this day. What disappointments in your life as well as your children’s can be seen as a gift to learn and use coping skills, emotional resiliency, creative thinking and collaboration?

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Who is Potty Training Who?

Oh, the good ole days of potty training! Our 2 ½ year old daughter is now potty trained and there is victory in our house because there will be no more diapers! I remember when we were potty training our first son. Our poor first child, I tested all of my experiments on him. All those books I read on potty-training clued in that in different parts of the world such as some regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe babies are potty trained before 2 years old. Parents will hold their children over the potty.


Developmental Readiness for Potty Training


I then read how children should be potty-trained between 18 and 24 months. The Brazelton child oriented approach, endorsed by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society, seems to be effective if started between 18 and 24 months of age. I can see why; our toddlers may appear to be developmentally ready because they are able to:


  1. Pull up and down their pants

  2. Communicate when they need to use the restroom

  3. Independently walk to the bathroom

  4. Show an interest in using the potty

  5. Wake up with a clean diaper from naps and in the morning

  6. Can sit down on the toilet for 1 to 2 minutes

  7. Understands simple directions

  8. Prefers to be dry

  9. Generally, has a regular schedule when pooping


Based on my son’s developmental readiness of potty training, we decided to start potty training when he was 20 months old. As a school psychologist, I should have known better though because I did not take into account my child’s emotional readiness. I will talk about this later though.


Potty Training Adults


Holding your child over the potty, carrying them to the bathroom, nagging them to use the bathroom, giving them rewards for using the potty, and punishing them for not using the potty is only potty training us adults because we are the ones doing all the work. This also creates epic power struggles.


So, if you are worried about being called a “lazy” parent or behind because your neighbor potty trained her daughter when she was 16 months old, rest assured that following your child’s lead and your own intuition will lead to less frustration and better results with less stains on furniture and a more confident child because your child will be doing their own potty training and not you!


Potty Training: The Research


Children who start toilet training before age 2 have a three times higher risk of developing daytime wetting problems later, according to research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.


According to the Research and Reports in Urology. Sixty percent of the early trainers had daytime wetting in a study involving 112 children ages 3 to 10. They had a 3.37 times increased risk of daytime wetness as compared to the normal group. Based on this research, early trainers are more prone to subsequent voiding dysfunction because they are more apt to "hold" their stool or urine. When children hold their poop, it backs up causing discomfort, stomach distention, constipation, and possibly behavior problems. When children hold in their poop it also presses against their bladder which can cause urine accidents and discomfort. In fact, in this study, early trainers were three times more likely to complain of constipation than normal trainers and early trainers who had urine accidents also had constipation.


Helping Your Child Be a Successful Potty Trainer


Even though I am suggesting you wait until your child is ready to potty train on his or her own, know that I am not suggesting you wait until they wake up one day and say, “Ok, Mom, I’m ready to potty train!” Unfortunately, they will not miraculously do everything on their own. We of course need to teach the skills, just like we teach our children and create guidelines and maps for other skills they learn. Please know that there are ways you can help your child be successful in their potty training endevours. This is an exciting time in their lives and a big developmental milestone, so please encourage them in this process. Here are my recommendations:




  1. Wait until your child is at least 2.5 years old before starting potty training unless your child is begging you to start sooner suggests Jane Nelson, founder of Positive Discipline.

  2. Put the potty in the bathroom where you go to the bathroom. Your child wants to be like you and possibly older siblings.

  3. Place books next to the potty (my middle son will quickly grab a stack of toys and play with them when he is going poop. He might sit on the potty for 10 minutes which drives my older son nuts!) 

  4. Consider a fold up travel potty for your little girl or a urinal (shaped like an animal) for your little boy when traveling or going on outings.

  5. Tell your child a story when you had an accident, even better a story when you were an adult. Don’t tell me you never had an accident, No? Me either? : )

  6. Only use underwear! Have confidence your child will be successful with your support.

  7. Use encouraging statements such as, “Yay! You are such a big girl, you went on the potty.” Or “I knew you could do it. You are becoming such a big boy.”

  8. Frequently say, “Yay, you are dry” or “You are such a big girl, you are dry still” as a reminder to your child that he or she is dry and listening to their bodies. Your child will be more likely to remember to go potty.

  9. Put your child in just a shirt and underwear for the first few days of potty training. Make it as easy as possible for your child to be successful.

  10. Have your child drink lots of water and maybe even juice for just the first three days. A little juice won’t hurt for a few days. This way your child will get lots of practice.

  11. Have your child change into his or her own clean underwear and clothes if he or she has an accident. This will teach your child to take care of his or her own body.

  12. Have your child practice wiping him or herself.

  13. Have your child practice dumping the pee or poop from the potty chair into the big potty.

  14. Say, “You will remember next time.”





  1. Offer rewards such as candy or toys. This will only give your child a sense of entitlement and an external locust of control. You want your child to go potty because it is the right thing to do and so does your child!

  2. Set a timer and have your child sit on the potty during certain times of the day. This will only cause confusion and problems as your son or daughter will not be able to listen to their body when they need to actually run to the potty

  3. Shame your child. You know the old saying “accidents happen?” Let your child know that it’s ok that he or she had an accident and next time you have faith your child will go to the bathroom in the potty.

  4. Use pull ups or diapers, not even at night during potty training.

  5. Engage in a power struggle with your child. Avoid it by all cost, by quickly grabbing your child and placing him or her on the potty if they are starting to have an accident. Also, remind your child by saying: “You are supposed to let mommy know when you need to go potty.” Or “Please remember to tell me next time when you need to go potty.” Say,” mommy, I need to go potty.”

  6. Tell your child to go on the potty! Also, do NOT ask your child if he or she needs to go on the potty. Let your child be in control of their own needs. Do go up to your child and say, “Let mommy know when you need to go potty.” Or “I’m right here, if you could please let me know when you need to go potty.”

  7. Put your child back in diapers if your child is 2.5 years old. Show faith in your child that he or she can go potty on their own.



The First Day of Potty Training


Now that you are ready for potty training… I mean your child is ready for potty training. What should you do the first day?


Go to the store with your child and have him or her pick out underwear. Make sure you have at least 15 to 20 pairs in case there are some accidents. Tell your child that now that they have their own underwear they are ready to start potty training. If you don’t have potty chairs, have your child purchase potty chairs for each bathroom that adults go potty in. Tell your child he or she will start using the new potties tomorrow morning. Let your child know that he or she will not need any more diapers.


Wake up in the morning and tell your child what a big boy or girl they are and they are now ready to start potty training! Have your child help place all the diapers into a garbage bag and throw them away. Say “Yay, no more diapers! Now you can wear your special underwear that you picked out. You should be so proud of yourself that now you can go pee and poop on the potty!”


Then go to the bathrooms and make sure there is a potty chair in every bathroom that the adults go potty. Ask your child to show you where his or her potties are located in the house, like a scavenger hunt. Tell your child “This is where you need to go potty, not in your new, nice underwear.” 


During the first three days, tell your child repeatedly “Let mommy know when you need to go potty.” Followed by “You should be so proud of yourself, you are dry!” If your child is doing the potty dance, take their hand and lead them to the bathroom or pick them up and place them on the potty. Do not tell your child to go to the bathroom or ask them if they need to go potty.

If your child is still not toilet trained after he or she is three years old, be sure to get a doctor's evaluation to see if there is a physical problem. If there is not a physical problem, you may be involved in a power struggle. Also, it is completely normal for your child to have accidents still after three and regress again when children are school age.


Emotional Readiness

Now that you and your child are ready, please remember to not underestimate your child’s emotional development and readiness to potty training. Your child should be able to master his or her own body and believe “I can do it” and “I am a big boy” now. He should also be able to have a desire to imitate and to be like others. Also, don’t underestimate your child because they will know your agenda. Are you nervous or anxious about potty training your child? Wait until you are comfortable because your child’s emotional readiness is fragile, powerful and telling in regards to readiness. We want for our children to know that we don’t have an agenda, but that we do want them to say, “I can do this myself!” And you can do this too, you’ve got this!  You just might be going around the room singing, “Listen to your body when you need to go potty, it’s potty time do, do, do, do. It’s Potty T-i-i-i-me.”

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Feeling Shame? Feel Vulnerability

When we feel shame and humiliation the last thing we want to do is uplift others, but when we do that is called love! Love for ourselves and love for others. So how can we uplift ourselves and others during our feelings of shame from other parents, strangers, or mother-in-laws?


First it is important to name and understand shame because we all feel it. According to Brene Brown below are the definitions of shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment:


  1. Shame- I am bad. Feeling like a bad person highly correlates with addiction, bullying, aggression etc.

  2. Guilt- I did something bad. This focuses on the behavior

  3. Humiliation- You believe “I didn’t deserve this.”

  4. Embarrassment- “I’m not alone.” You know, like farting in public.


We have all felt shame. What do you do when you feel shame? I know for me, I numb but chronic numbing can lead to addiction. But really in those moments we just forget who we are. But to be truly feminine in our true feminine bodies is to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is having courage and having courage is allowing the truth to come to light. The flip side is that when we try to numb our negative emotions of hurt, anger, shame, guilt, etc. we also numb love, joy, intimacy, belonging. You cannot numb the bad without numbing the good too.


Remember we are wired to struggle and to be imperfect. Our children come to us as they are, ready for struggle as well. This is where the beauty comes in how we deal with struggle. We have teachers in those little bodies of our children. We should not be shamed for our struggles though, especially by other parents or our mother-in-laws.


Unfortunately, shame usually comes in the form from people that you are the closest to. One way to discuss shame is to talk about zero name calling in your house. This can be very difficult for young children, but as children get older and can utilize their upstairs brain more efficiently, name calling can be minimized. It can also be very damaging to relationships, especially sibling relationships in a home where you are supposed to feel like you belong.


Give to your children what they deserve the most, by loving yourself and taking care of yourself. This is what your children see, you modeling love. Be silly, redirect, give hugs. Be the parent you want your child to be. Tell yourself, “I am happy for this day.” And when you see your child come home from school remind them, “I am so glad you are here with us right now. WE are complete as a family.” Do something unfamiliar next time, and have the vulnerability to tell your child, “It’s not a big secret, I’m working on growing and being a better person!” 

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I am a contributor for the Columbus Moms Blog. So please check out my other articles and click on the "Columbus Moms Blog" icon! Warning, you may get lost in many of the other wonderful articles that are posted by other contributors. Have fun!


Morgan Metcalf

Columbus, OH

​​Tel: 614.507.0921

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