I recently went through the terrifying yet somehow rewarding experience of potty training my daughter. She did a great job, I am very proud of her, but I think I was helped along by reading the classic potty training guide Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. If anything, it gave me courage. Curious, I checked out her site and discovered that there are now several of these potty training gurus out there helping parents who need it. There didn’t seem to be any listed for Brooklyn, so I reached out to one in Los Angeles to get her thoughts on what it is like to deal with poop all day!
Jenny Phelps learned directly with the “Pied Piper of Poop” – Ms. Glowacki herself – and has since coached 100’s of parents through the sometimes scary process. She works remotely with with clients all over the globe. She was kind enough to respond to my questions.
What does a potty training consultant do?
“I coach parents through the process of potty training, teaching about the mechanics of potty training in local and online classes. Most often, I troubleshoot the process for parents – helping to determine what potty training issues they are experiencing, and what tools to apply to help. In contemporary society, we have so many variables – parenting styles, misinformation, diet issues, special needs, daycare and preschool situations. I help to adapt potty training techniques to those individual circumstances. Potty training can be intense and many parents just want to know if what they’re experiencing is “normal”. Having worked with nearly 1,000 families now, I have a vast amount of experience to help answer those questions and fix issues that arise.”
What made you decide to do this?
“I enjoyed potty training my daughter. How many people can say that?!? But I found it so incredibly difficult to find good, thorough info on the topic. Oh Crap gave me the skills and the confidence to train my daughter. Since we trained pretty “early” (20 months), I naturally started helping other parents in my mom’s group. Not long after that, the opportunity to get certified and “make it official” came, and now I have the privilege of helping to pay that positive potty training experience forward.”
Is it true the girls are easier to potty train?
“Nope! This is one of the big myths I talk about in my classes – the idea that boys are harder or that they train later. Boys and girls have the same ideal age range. Differences in difficulty potty training are not about “the plumbing” so to speak. Differences are due to personality, the child’s learning curve, etc. I’ve worked with many sets of boy/girl twins. Sometimes the boy gets it first, sometimes the girl. If anything, boys can be *easier* because it’s more socially acceptable for them to pee “wherever”.”
What is the one thing that everyone gets wrong about potty training?
“I think we, as parents, tend to see “going to the potty” as all one task. It seems simple. In reality, this is one of the hardest tasks kids have had to learn up until this point. There are cognitive, physical, social, and emotional components. The “feeling to pee” isn’t just one feeling, but a series of feelings – what it feels like generally, when it’s imminent, what it feels like to release, etc. Many parents tell me their child “gets it” but won’t do it. A child can understand what is expected, but still have learning to do. Parents have to support this, and nearly every aspect of potty training has to be “taught” in some way. We cannot expect kids to just “do it all themselves” from the very beginning.”
What do you do when you are not talking about number 1 and 2?
“Aside from spending quality time with my now 4-year-old daughter (who is a bit obsessed with pee and poop, by the way), I’m a college teacher – I teach art (painting and drawing classes) locally and online. I see this as going hand-in-hand with my potty training work. Both are “adult education” and both require lots of patience, empathy, creative problem solving, and the ability to see “the big picture”. Being a potty trainer has made me a better teacher, and vice versa.”
Charlie Wagner is a Brooklyn mom and aspiring children’s book author.