The Never Ending Need for Patience

toddler makes a mess in the bathroom and parents need some patienceIt was Thanksgiving day,  and my family was making the nearly two-hour drive to my father-in-law’s house. He lives in a rural part of Virginia, so while the trip there is filled with beautiful scenery, it lacks things like gas stations, rest stops, and fast food restaurants.

We’ve made the trip so many times, though, we know where to stop. There is a large gas station about halfway through the trip that makes for a good break for everyone, a place to fill up on gas, grab a drink, and yes, go to the bathroom.

On this particular trip, we made our usual stop. My 4-year-old daughter — the main reason for our stop — said she didn’t need to go to the bathroom. We took her at her word and carried on down the road. Ten minutes later, of course, she said she now had to go.

What to Do?

My wife and I quickly threw our hands in the air in frustration. We had asked her if she needed to go only for her to change her mind a few minutes later. We had a few choices, and none of them seemed good: turn around and show up late to Thanksgiving; keep going and pray she didn’t have an accident until a gas station magically appeared, or pull over on the side of the road.

My wife pushed the pulling over idea. My daughter did not want anything to do with it. Not wanting to be late, we decided to keep going, asking her to hold it until a place to stop magically appeared. After making this trip more than a dozen times, I knew our next stop was half an hour away, but I hoped I somehow forgot about a potential stop.

In the end, we ended up making it long enough to find a good place to stop. It was not without its nervous moments and, as we saw it, unnecessary stress.

Staying Patient Is Key

I tell this story to bring home a simple point: potty training is all about patience. There will be times where your children will test your patience, just like they do with other activities. There will come a time when you are in a hurry, or are tired from work, or are simply in a bad mood, and your child will test your strength.

I’ve found that to be true so many times. I feel that my daughter only tells me she needs to use the bathroom at inopportune times: on the highway in the middle of nowhere, halfway through the checkout line at the grocery store, or out Christmas shopping where the nearest bathroom is seemingly eight miles away.

Potty training is a test as much on the parents. Of course, you want your child to have positive experiences going to the bathroom. Making the process negative will only slow down progress. At the same time, it is another factor parents must plan into their day. There will come a time when you ask your child if they need the restroom, they say “no,” and then 10 minutes later tell you they need to go. Patience is the big key. No one said it was going to be easy, but with patience and the right mindset, you can make it through.

Additional Potty Training Resources:

TODAY Moms’ potty training advice: No pressure, lots of patience, and plenty of Cheerios to aim at

How I Found Peace Amidst Potty Training 

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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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