Creative Child

What’s the Rush?: Toddlers

Part 2
by Brittany Ferrell


Rush #4: The Race to Potty Train

Potty training is currently the hot topic at the playground. The recipe for a successful potty training experience is swapped more often than the recipe for the perfect casserole. I have not yet hopped on the train to potty town. My daughter “gets” that we go potty. She lets me know when she needs a diaper change. These are a few of the signs you look for when beginning to potty train.

However, her little body has not yet mastered bladder control and she more often lets me know after she has filled a diaper, not before. She is not ready. I have many friends whose children are at the same stage as my daughter, but their daycare provider/mother-in-law/friends are pushing using the potty now. Many daycares even require your child be potty trained by age three, but I encourage you to not rush if your child is not ready.

If you are wondering whether your child is ready to potty train, there are not only physical signs to look for, but behavioral and cognitive signs, as well. Physical signs to look for are bladder control, where your child urinates a decent amount at one time and also has extended periods of dryness.

Behavioral signs to look for:

  • Your child showing an interest in using the potty (being carefully watched while you attempt to use the restroom is a bit disconcerting, but natural!)
  • The ability to sit down quietly and patiently for several minutes.
  • The ability to pull his/her pants up and down.

Cognitive signs to look for:

  • The ability to verbalize the need to use the bathroom before it happens.
  • The understanding that one has to “hold it” until getting to the potty.

I’ll spare you the psychobabble of my undergraduate Psychology studies about the possible adverse effects of early potty training like becoming “anal-retentive,” but potty training too early can lead to some harmful physiological effects like bladder infections, constipation, and kidney damage.

In an article on, Dr. Steve Hodges, a pediatric urologist states, “Children under age three should not manage their own toileting habits any more than they should manage their college funds.” In the end, you know your child better than anyone. Just do not give into the pressure to potty train by outside forces. Trust your judgment.

Rush #5 The Race to Read

Yes, I am a teacher. Yes, I was singing the “alphabet song” when my daughter was still in the womb. Yes, I read to my child every day, make weekly trips to the library, and watch Sesame Street. However, after reading Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, I am revising my thinking. Druckerman investigated and wrote about the mystique of French parenting as an American mom living in Paris.

French kids do not learn to read in school until age six or seven. In their (free) daycare program and (free) preschool programs, there is not even an alphabet line posted in the room. The children learn how to communicate effectively verbally, become good citizens by sharing and getting along, and engage in play that will allow them to develop their talents.

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As a teacher, I actually see the method behind their apparent madness. If a child in the United States entered first grade with excellent verbal skills, manners, and the ability to grasp abstract thinking, teaching that student to learn to read would be a breeze. My teacher friends and I will all tell you that too much time per day is spent on classroom management. If we could spend the majority of the day actually teaching the standards instead of acting as a referee, it would be miraculous!

As a parent, I do not know if I can help myself from teaching my daughter how to read. I know I “teach” her without even realizing I am doing so. However, instead of cramming the alphabet song down her throat (from now on), I vow to cultivate a love of reading by continuing to read to her, taking those trips to the library, and modeling my love of books. I will allow her to discover books and develop her own love of literature. My prediction is that she will not only learn to read, but without my constant pressure, she will actually enjoy the process.

In the grand scheme of things, childhood is a blip on the radar. It goes by far too quickly. Some milestones your child may breeze through and others may take longer.

Instead of rushing through it like some sort of race to an invisible finish line, let your child set the pace. Do not stop educating your child, but trust him or her to let you know when they are ready to tackle their next childhood hurdle. Children are naturally inquisitive. Allow your child to let you know when he or she wants to learn something new.

Do not focus on what they cannot yet do or what their peers can or cannot do, instead celebrate what they love and can do already.

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Brittany Ferrell has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Education. She has worked as an elementary school teacher for twelve years and was awarded "Teacher of the Year" 2011. In February 2014, Brittany and her wonderful husband, Jerome welcomed their miracle, Madeline Olivia to the world and she has chronicled her struggle to become a parent in her published memoir, "From Dream to Dream Come True: My Journey to Motherhood". Brittany writes about her fairy tale dream come true of motherhood on her blog, A Mama Tale.

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