On values and potty training (really!)

I thought it might be helpful to share my notes from working through the exercises in this book I referenced in my previous post (all quotes in this post come from this book):

It’s about values!

Offering values to our children is the thing we do that most clearly defines our family as unique.

What are the three most important things you want to teach your child?

  • That he always has choices. (=independence)
  • That he can do anything if he wants to. (=capability)
  • That he, himself, is enough and everything. (=confidence)

What are the values I learned in my family?

We are successful.

We are smart.

We are capable.

We have goals.

We learn and grow.

We can do anything.

We are strong enough.

We don’t shy away from difficult.

We always have choices.

We own our decisions.

We follow rules.

We will always be okay; we’ll find a solution.

We respect our needs for quiet time (and other peoples’).

We do are doing our best at any given time, and so are other people.

(-) We judge and others judge us.

(-) Someone is always to blame.

(-) We acquire things to show we can/ care.

+ We take care of our things.

+ We let people live their own lives.

+ We know who we are and accept/ embrace that as wonderful.

+ We are strong enough to ask for help.

We are people who:

… know we have choices and make them proudly.

… make things happen and are successful.

… know who we are, how we feel, and what that means.

… are smart enough to do or learn anything.

… are strong and solid enough to ask for help.

… let other people live their own lives and make their own choices.

My conclusions

Look for opportunities to teach values.

My son and I are struggling with potty training because I value Javi’s independence and choices, but I’ve chosen to potty train all at once, on my schedule, without asking for his cooperation or offering choices in line with his goals. Despite my own values, I’m trying to bribe (you get something in the future for doing something now) and declare (you do what I say because I said so). Of course it’s not working, and suddenly I’m relieved that it’s not, since I’d be teaching him something I don’t want him to learn!

Implicit in the paragraph above is that if you value different things, you’ll go about potty training in different ways, and that’s awesome. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know how important it is to me that people have and get to make their own choices, and that applies to my toddler and to you!

We aren’t living in line with some values I strive for:

We take care of our things. We don’t assume everything is disposable. We are bad about accumulating, getting rid of, and re-buying stuff.

We live in the beauty of useful things. We have a lot of crap. Some useful things are ugly or cheap; some things don’t have a use.

We appreciate our relationships – with each other, with other people, with our animals. We have gotten into the habit of doing the bare minimum with our animals and letting ourselves mostly tell them to go away or leave the room when they get in our faces.

We like things to be clean and orderly. We are not this. We like this, yes, but our home isn’t this, though Javi’s room is the most likely to be this.

We know the value of money and respect it. We buy a lot of things, which we can afford, but I don’t think is teaching good habits with money. I have to do more thinking about what we’re teaching Javi, but I am still trying to learn this, so it stands to reason that we’re a waffly with him.

We work hard. We’ve oriented our lives around Javi, which is fabulous, but he doesn’t often see us working. As he grows older, it’s important that we talk to him about working hard and what Mama and Daddy do at work.

We take care of our bodies. Joey used to be good about this, going bike riding at least once a week, but he’s fallen out of the habit. I’m terrible at treating my body well, so for myself and as a good example, I need to go back to yoga.

So now what?

I started to apply my findings to our potty training situation in yesterday’s post, but I didn’t quite finish it, so now I’m thinking through what actions I need to take or change:

Javi’s goals these days seem to be to do it himself, do it when he wants, and not be interrupted when he’s engrossed in something. My goals are for him to wear undies, use the potty when he needs to go, and recognize when he needs to go so he can use the potty and wear undies. His goals will feel bigger to him than mine, but I’ve learned to think of behavior change as a continuum


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