Potty Training

By: Molly DeHoog,MA,LLMSW

I wouldn’t even say we’re “potty training” but I do ask her every now and then and every now and then she’ll sit on the toilet and demand a chocolate chip in return. When she’s ready, it will happen, right? I actually wonder who’s less ready, her or me!? Either way, I was struck by her words the other day as we talked about the possible need to use the “older potty” (Another topic: trying not to use the phrase “big girl” so much...)

Me: Do you want to try going potty on the older potty?
Her: No. I not need to go potty.

...a few minutes later…

Her: My body does not need to go potty, Mom.
Me: Ok sis, that’s fine, just let me know when you do.

I dwelled in her words for a few minutes after that; at the way she replaced my word “you” with her words “my body”.

And I wish I would have said, “Ok sis, that’s fine, just let me know when IT does.”

I quickly started thinking of all the reasons children are brilliant and intuitive.

I want so desperately for my mind and my body to be in unison, to need and think and feel the same. But the truth is that they’re not the same, they are truly connected but not the same. My emotions take me places and so do my bones, my mind knows things and so do my muscles, my feelings feel things and so do my nerves.

What might it look like to be more mindful of this? Maybe saying, “What does my body need” instead of “What do I want”? Both are equally as important, but I would argue that we tend to listen our mental state and desires more frequently than we consider our physical state and desires.

Does my body need to be nourished? Or do I want comfort?
Am I yawning because my body needs need fresh air?
Are my anxious thoughts preventing me from sitting down?
Is it hard for me to focus because my body is full of sugar?
Does my body need to go to the bathroom and I’m not allowing it because I don’t have time?
Does my body need fresh water but I’d rather have coffee because it looks nicer?
Are my shoulders tense?
Am I sucking my stomach in?
Am I tapping my foot?
Am I squeezing my fists?
Do I have a head cold because I am too busy?
Is the pain in my back because of emotional stress?
Am I annoyed because of this person or because my shoes are too tight?
What is your body saying to you right now?

Remember that you are more than your head -- you are your body too.