Yet we are asking this child (who was a sweet peanut swaddled in a blanket a few years ago) to master a complex task like potty training. This major process includes developing the body awareness needed for knowing when to go (and interrupting fun play time). It involves the emotional and moral developments of wanting to please us by doing the right thing. And it requires the cognitive development needed to figure out where to go, who to ask for help and how to get there — all while physically holding it, getting clothing off and finally letting it all go. It’s a complex task for anyone, much less a toddler.

But toddlers truly do want to learn to be in control of their bodies, and it’s what we as parents and caregivers want, too. The best way to encourage this is by avoiding the power and control struggles that easily become a hallmark of this age. In this way, we are more potty “coach” than potty “supervisor.”

Potty training is truly the signature developmental achievement of toddler-age children because it combines all these complex tasks — physical, cognitive and emotional — into one seemingly simple act. So enjoy the journey as you help your child develop from a helpless baby into a much more complex little person who has newfound control over his body, mind, and emotions. You’ve come a long way, baby!

Find your way to Potty Talk Series 3 to learn potty terms, tone and voice.