Potty training can be one of the hardest and most stressful stages of parenting. And that’s even when it goes really well! It’s one area where so many parents struggle and lose their patience. There’s no right or wrong way to potty train your child. But during the entire process, we have to expect that things aren’t always going to go the way we want them to go. Accidents happen during potty training. Sometimes, a lot of accidents! And while those setbacks can be frustrating, it’s important to focus on why potty training accidents are a good thing. Yes, that’s right! They’re not the end of the world. Rather, they are an important aspect of the entire process.

You might be wondering why potty training accidents are a good thing, right?

Here’s the thing: every single accident that happens during potty training is a learning opportunity. Both for your child, and for you! Toddlers don’t suddenly know exactly what to do when you take diapers away. There’s a HUGE learning curve going from being diapered all the time to being able to control their own bladder and bowels and go on the toilet.

PREVIOUSLY: What Age Can You Start Potty Training Your Child? Well, It Depends on Your Child

Every time a child has a potty training accident, they’re understanding a bit more about how long they can or can’t hold it. They’re figuring out that stopping what they’re doing, be it playing or eating, is more important. Those accidents really help them recognize and begin to respect what their bodies are telling them!

Diapers are sort of awesome, in that they wick moisture away from the child. So it can be hard for them to notice that they’re wet. During potty training, the child is able to really feel what it means to be wet or soiled.

And that is incredibly important! Those accidents teach the child something, every single time. No one likes the feeling of having wet or soiled undies. So when those potty training accidents happen, it pushes the child to a point of discomfort that they want to try to avoid.

PREVIOUSLY: The Dangers of Potty Training Too Early

Potty training accidents are also teaching moments for parents. They give us the opportunity to really explain how things work, in a way that a toddler can understand. Sure, we can tell them that they need to go when it feels like they have to go. But until they have an accident, they might not know what that feeling feels like! Accidents give parents a chance to explain the mechanisms of potty training in the moment.

Sure, during potty training, it can be hard to remember why potty training accidents are a good thing! No one likes to clean up pee, after all. But we have to remember this: Rome wasn’t built in a day! It takes time, and a lot of patience. Celebrate the victories, but don’t punish the accidents. They’re going to happen!

(Image: iStock / deucee_)