Is your child a Monkey? A Chipmunk? A Deer? The answer to this question can help make potty training the positive and successful experience you want it to be. The personality of your toddler, as well as your own personality, strongly impact how potty training goes. Is it going to feel like a series of struggles, tensions and tears where all involved end up exhausted and frustrated on the one end, or a process that’s calm, consistent and clear where everyone feels positive and proud on the other? Personality and how you incorporate an understanding of personality plays a big role in which scenario is likely to be your experience.
Babies are born with certain temperamental dispositions that, over time, emerge into personality types. And while no toddler is defined by just one toddler personality type, understanding their strongest personality traits and the associated behavioral styles that go along with them can guide you in facilitating their growth and development. Harvey Karp M.D. author of “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” writes “Pay attention to the nuance of your child… Kids are like flowers, each one is different, but special. So whether your child is a playful poppy or a shrinking violet, love and celebrate your child for his or her uniqueness” (Karp, 2008). So, your child’s uniqueness is extremely important to pay attention to as you move toward potty training.
While our personality certainly develops and evolves over the course of our lifetimes, even in these early years you can see distinctive traits that seem to set your child apart from others. In PoGO’s Positive Potty Training system (www.pogopottypanda.com), toddler personality is divided into 5 main personality types (adapted from Au & Stavinoha, 2016). Those are: Monkey, Deer, Cat, Ram and Chipmunk. Each of these types have particular personality traits and behavioral styles that will influence how your little guy or girl will likely experience and engage in potty training.
“Monkey” children are always on the go and become distracted easily. They’re the children in the playground who are climbing to the top of the monkey bars even though they are only three, or are running from activity to activity with gusto. With Monkey children, being very clear, consistent and focused is important. Also, having them work on tuning into their bodily signals can make a big difference as they often are so focused on what they are involved in they are oblivious to what is going on around or within them.
Deer children are more hesitant and possibly anxious in the playground. They are very sensitive to their sense experience, e.g., to texture, sound, taste, and are very sensitive emotionally. Deer children often can feel somewhere is too noisy or too crowded even though other kids their age might be fine with the volume and the number present. Given this, investing in thorough preparation for potty training in advance really makes a difference. Being prepared to offset some of the potential negative sense experiences can help. For example, you can help them get used to the sound of the toilet flushing by having them start to flush the toilet with you in advance of potty training themselves.
Cat children are reserved and may be hesitant to ask for help. Cat children are the children in the playground who seem to be very content playing by themselves or with one or two familiar friends. With Cat children, being patient with the adaptation process to using the potty and encouraging their expressiveness is very important.
Ram children are strong-willed and confident. They are the children you see on the playground who are assertive and may well be leading the charge. When it comes to potty training having them decide they want to use the potty and take charge of that goal is very helpful. In particular it can help to avoid the intense power struggles that might occur otherwise.
Lastly, Chipmunk children really like to master things, they are achievement driven. In the playground they are the children who are investing time and effort learning and practicing new skills. With little Chipmunks, presenting learning how to use the potty as a series of goals to achieve, gets these kids invested and motivated from the start. These are the children who once they put their mind to achieving a goal they are determined to do just that.
To discover the personality style of your child you can take PoGO’s Personality Assessment for Toddlers on our website. This will give you a summary profile your child on all five animal personality types. With this you can then get a sense of the blend of personality traits and behavioral styles your child will likely bring to potty training. Armed with this information you can identify where their strengths are as they go into potty training and you can also identify where there may well be challenges and develop strategies to address these in advance.
Happy training, Dr. Maria
*Au, S. & Stavinoha, P.L.(2016) Stress-Free Potty Training- A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child, 2nd Edition, American Management Association, NY
Karp, H., (2008) The Happiest Little Toddler on the Block. 2nd Edition, Bantam Dell, NY.