• Gianna De Salvo

How my 'aha' moment as a parent started with a poop

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

It might sound really crazy, but my journey to becoming a better parent began with a poop.

It was early in the potty training days. My daughter had just turned two and a half and after a couple of months of coercing, encouraging and literally begging my child to use the 'big' toilet to poop she finally did.

Before that, she was fine with weeing in it, but doing a poop was a whole other matter. I know I'm not alone in this one. She would poop everywhere but the toilet - even left me 'presents' in the bath - but I digress.

So this day, when she pooped in the toilet, I couldn't be prouder and neither could she. In fact, she announced the birth of her poop into the world by screaming 'POOP' at the top of her lungs over and over again, jumping up and down with glee.

I almost felt tempted to take a photo to document the momentous occasion.

Then, after all of the fanfare and congratulations had died down a bit, I reached over and innocently flushed the toilet.

And that is when the whole mood in the room dropped.

It was like everything was happening in slow motion.

I looked over at her face, which reflected a look of abject horror and for a split second there was silence. Then....the wailing began....louder and louder and louder... until she broke down into a sobbing heap on the floor and began banging her little fists on the ground.

At first it didn't register with me. What was wrong? Was she hurt? What in the world could've caused so much upset.

Until she looked up at me, eyes full of tears and quietly whispered "my poop."

And this was my 'aha' moment. She wanted to flush the poop. She wanted to be the one who saw this occasion to fruition. Not me. I had taken her independence away - I'd literally flushed it down the toilet.

As I held her and sat with her through her big feelings of anger, disappointment and sadness, I realised from that day forward that it's true what they say - tantrums are just a result of our children's needs not being met in some way. This was her unmet need for independence.

It only took a toddler's poop to illustrate that to me clearly.

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