How the First Child Prepared Us for the Second

Over the last few days, my wife and I began planning my son’s second birthday party. While it is a little more than a month away, we wanted to be proactive in picking a venue, inviting friends and family, and not leaving the preparation until the last minute.

The second birthday also gets me thinking about potty training. It was a few months after my daughter’s second birthday that we started potty training for her, so as my son nears that same milestone, it is something in the back of my mind.

One of the benefits of having a second child is the chance to relive milestones and accomplishments. With our first child, everything was so new and exciting that it flew by in a blur. With the second child, we have an idea of what is coming and can anticipate it, along with hopefully enjoying it a little more as it happens.

Lessons from the First Child

The second time around also offers the opportunity to learn from our first mistakes. While I feel that my wife and I handled potty training the best we could the first time through, there are things that I learned I know will help me as my son starts the process. There will undoubtedly be differences, but here are a few things that I will take with me.

Be flexible. Like most parents, my wife and I read up on potty training strategies before beginning the process. I learned that those sometimes fail or different strategies work with different children. Instead of thinking that I did something wrong or worry that my child would not pick up potty training skills, I realized it may just be the wrong method to reach them.

Be fun. Potty training can be stressful, but children will not want to learn if it turns into a terrible experience. Bring fun into the process, ignore mistakes, praise success, and work in a treat every now and again to encourage proper behavior.

Be patient. Everything new with kids takes time. They didn’t just take their first step one day. There were crawling and cruising, and plenty of early falls until one day they could balance. It’s the same with potty training. It won’t happen overnight, but a consistent approach will lead to results over time.

Be ready. My wife and I admittedly started potty training my daughter before we were sure she was ready. She mentioned a few times the desire not to wear a diaper, but we wanted to hurry her along to be potty trained by the time my son arrived. This time, we’ll wait for the child to take the lead. Is this something they really want? Are they ready? Then we’ll start instead of letting outside forces dictate.

Having a second child has been a blessing in so many ways. I’ve enjoyed watching him take his first steps, say his first words, and learn to restart the show he is watching on Netflix. He is a smart little boy that has made our family complete. With the lessons learned from teaching my daughter to go to the bathroom, we can hopefully make it easier for him and less stressful for us.

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David Stegon

David Stegon is a writer, editor, and father of two based in Virginia. He has written for traditional and digital publications for the past 13 years. David holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Temple University and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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