Parenting Q & A- Toilet training, Self steem, Divorce

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: November 11, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers


I've been hearing a lot about how to toilet train an infant. Some parents have reported success working with children as young as two or three months old. I know that toilet training is a significant issue for many young children, and I don't want to make a mistake with my first child. What's your opinion of these techniques?


While toilet training is certainly an important accomplishment, psychologists have made too big a deal of the significance of this developmental milestone. There is no truth to the assertion that the way children are toilet trained will have long-term effects throughout their lifetimes.

There are a number of books that describe how to "toilet train" infants. However, it is important to remember that children simply do not have the physical control over their elimination systems to be "trained" as infants. These techniques are actually more a matter of a parent learning a child's communication cues, and having a child urinate or defecate into a toilet or other receptacle rather than into a diaper.

Most children are successfully toilet trained by around two years of age. The best book I've seen on this topic is Toilet Training in Less Than a Day by Foxx and Azrin. There are no disadvantages to "infant potty training" as long as parents do not really expect their 3-month-old to exert control over these bodily functions, as such unrealistic expectations can result in frustration and even anger at their child.


My seventh-grade daughter is having problems with some popular girls in her class. At times when she is with the "in group" she feels good about herself, has many friends, and things go well. However, these same kids sometimes turn on her rather quickly. They are friends one moment, but she is the victim of their gossip at other times.

Should I speak with her teachers about the situation, or is it time to let her manage these relationships on her own?


Your goal as a parent is to make yourself unnecessary. At your daughter's age, she needs to learn how to handle these relationships, including making an important decision regarding what is a true friend. Does she really want to associate with other kids who treat her that way?

Your role is to listen, understand, guide and gently suggest. While I'm sure she desperately wants to be in with a group of popular girls, challenge her thinking about what is meant by true friendship. You might also inquire as to whether she is involved in such gossip about other youngsters who are not with this popular group.


The last of my four children will leave for college in about nine months. My husband and I both want a divorce. I am uncertain as to whether we should proceed now or wait until my son has left for college. I know this will be a shock to him and his three sisters, and I'm wondering if it would be better for him to go through this now when he has my support or next year after he has left home?


There is really no best time for a divorce from our kids' point of view. Although you indicated that your son has no suspicions regarding your plans, I have found that many young people do know about their parents' problems. If difficulties with your husband involve issues of drug or alcohol use or marital infidelity, then I strongly suggest that you not wait until your son graduates. If it involves other issues, why don't you talk with your husband and figure out what works best not only for your son, but for you and him as well.

Even though your children are almost grown-ups, you need to work hard to maintain a cordial relationship with your soon to be ex-husband, not only for the sake of your children, but for your sake as well.

Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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