“There is a sense of urgency about childhood – of hastening progress, of accelerating development. Is this born out of wanting the best for children or from some belief or value base which says the state of childhood is worth less than the state of adulthood and so we must do all we can to reach the day when childhood is over…But children have their own pace and while, as adults, we pursue our own (and others’) time scales and agendas, we need to be mindful of the need young children have to take their time. “
-Cathy Nutbrown, from Gateways, Spring/Summer 1999
I quote this because we are in the middle of potty training SillyBilly. He is resisting it, saying vehemently that he does not want to wear underwear, he does not want to sit on the potty. He doesn’t care about being a big boy, going to kindergarten, wearing big boy underpants, or any other motivational tool we tried (though we haven’t tried money, he’s really into coins). He also tells me directly that he still wants to be a baby.
I want to respect his feelings, but I also really want to potty train him. I know he physically can do it, and he can learn to pay attention to the physical sensations ahead of time. But am I rushing him? Is he insecure in some way that is making him need to stay in the baby state a little longer? Did our separation for the first month of his life make him more needy now?
In the anthro world we talk about the parent (particularly the mother) needing to be the “ego” for the child for the first several years, as they are too involved with forming their physical bodies to be completely present consciously. In this case, should I be the ego and state unequivocably that it’s time to potty train….or should I back off and let him be a willing participant?
It seems doomed to fail, and indeed doomed to many years of psychotherapy, if I force him in this. But part of me also feels like I could be letting him down by not being the strong ego in this interaction, something I struggle with anyway.