The modern parent 'thinks' too much
I came across an interesting question the other day while reading my email. The mother of a 30-month-old was asking for some direction concerning a fairly routine toilet training matter. She ended her correspondence by saying, "over all else, we want to avoid anything that might result in her developing a negative attitude toward her bodily functions."
That's the modern parent talking. Can you imagine a mom in, say, 1955 saying something like that? No, you can't because until recently, parents didn't think every single child-rearing issue was fruaght with psychological implications.
Pre-modern parents were straightforward with children (ie., they acted like leaders of their children). The pre-modern mom didn't view herself as Keeper of the Most Fragile Vessel of Self Esteem, her child's Psychological Protectress. As a consequence, she didn't dance around issues. When she felt it was time for her child to learn to use the toilet, for example, she simply said, "You're not going to wear diapers anymore. Today, we're going to begin learning how to use the potty. Come with me."
And that was that.
The contemporary brouhaha over toilet training is a prime example of modern, psychological thinking when it comes to children. The modern parent, as exemplified by the above-mentioned mom, thinks that teaching a child to use the toilet is a delicate psychological enterprise. That if she makes one misstep --- starts too early, doesn't read "readiness signs" properly, says the wrong thing, etc. --- that her child is going to be warped for life, that she might grow up with a "negative attitude toward her bodily functions."
|My little hunbun, doin' his business! :)|
The modern mom thinks this because she has swallowed propaganda from the likes of eminent pediatricians who deliver somber cautions along these lines. In fact, teaching a toddler to use the toilet is no more "psychological" an enterprise than teaching a toddler to eat with a spoon. In both cases, during the learning process, the child makes messes. In both cases, a patient approach is going to produce the best results.
Is there reason to agonize over whether a child is or isn't psychologically "ready" to be taught to use a spoon? Is there reason to believe that if one does not approach the teaching of self-feeding with great caution that the child is going to be warped for life, that she is going to grow up with "negative feelings about swallowing" or something equally ridiculous? Of course not! And neither is there reason to agonize over toilet training.
The pre-modern (pre-1960's) mom did not agonize over any of this stuff. When she wanted her child to do something, she told him to do it. When she said "no," she meant "no." She toilet trained her child in less than a week by simply saying, 'You are going to begin putting your business in the toilet" and responding patiently but with firm reminders when he had an accident.
Okay so there was another paragraph in this article but when it got scanned it chopped off the side and I can't quite get it word-for-word but to paraphrase it says something like: The rate of child and teen depression has tripled since 1965 (which is a conservative estimate) and ironic to note, that ever since American parents began worrying about psychological issues, American children began having psychological problems. Think there might be a connection?
And all that to say, Thanks mom, for pretty much potty training my 2 oldest while they visit you out of state. Haha. (In just a few days, I might add.)
***UPDATE!! Just finished potty training my 21 month old girl. She was definitely the most difficult and literally threw her tiny self backwards trying to get off the potty chair while yelling "nooooo". but I clamped my hands down over her little thighs, looked her in the eyes and said "MOMMY IS THE BOSS. You ARE going to go potty in the toilet now. The diapers are bye bye, you have big girl panties now and you better not pee in them!" Sometimes I even set the potty chair up on the end of a bench so she couldn't get off. In 7 days, she was trained. She still loves me and is very proud of herself! As of 2/14/2012, it's been two weeks and she is accident free!!! Get rid of the diapers, parents, and DON'T LOOK BACK!***