What Potty Training My Daughter Taught Me About Life and Fitness

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
October 01, 2014

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they are tested.

Actually, this doesn’t happen just a few times, but many times every day. During these times of trial, lessons can be learned. These lessons are universal and can be applied to any area of your life.

Today, I’m going to share with you a few major lessons that apply to both life and fitness.

Last Friday, my wife and I started potty training our almost 2-year-old daughter, Emma. It has become a battle of wills. I never thought it would be this hard.

Allison has been doing most of it. There are many approaches to potty training. One method that we’ve tried is putting the child on the potty every thirty minutes until they actually go. Yep, you read that right. You and the child will sit in the bathroom for as long as it takes. Three hours? Yep, better be prepared for a red butt.

Once they actually go on the potty, they can get up and play. But once the thirty minute timer goes off again, you have to put the child back on until they go again. It’s agonizing to say the least.

We tried this method for a day and a half and noticed some progress, but in the end we all broke.

So next we tried option two: set the child on the potty every thirty minutes, but you don’t have to wait until they actually go.

I’m pleased to say that this approach has been working better. Emma is occasionally actually going pee-pee and poo-poo on the toilet. Hoorah! Success!

But this post isn’t a lesson in potty training. This post is about the life lessons that can be learned from potty training. Believe it or not, they apply directly to improving your fitness and also to your life in general.

Knee Health Score 1


10 Lessons Learned About Life & Fitness From Potty Training My Daughter

1. Sometimes You Just Have To Do It (Even If You Don’t Feel Like It)


“Why are you making me poop in this can, daddy?”

Do you have something in your life that you just don’t want to do? We all do.

The ironic thing is that children are forced to do things they don’t want to do… and end up growing (like potty training).

But many adults have things they need to do and choose to avoid them and procrastinate. They miss the opportunity to grow because they are acting like a child and not just doing it.


“Excuse me, but how do I change this thing to Frozen?”

2. Take a Breather Every Once And Awhile

We are not machines.

Humans were not meant to work 12-14 hours a day without rest. We need to rest our bodies and our minds.

I’m pretty diligent in my daily routine, but I still take moments to step away from my work to breathe and veg-out. This renews my energy and makes me even more productive.

Don’t believe me? Check out this TED Talk from my buddy Phil Drolet. It shows that some of the most brilliant minds in history spent more time “relaxing” than you might think.

3. Devote Yourself To Your Passion


“Making noise on the piano is better than making noise on the toilet, daddy.”

While potty training, we used Emma’s piano as a distraction.

Why did this work? Because she enjoyed it!

Maybe this will become a passion, and maybe it won’t. But watching her play reminded me of how important it is to have a passion in your life. What do you truly enjoy doing? Make time to do it every day to do it. Heck, you can even make a profession out of it.

4. Take Care Of Your Body

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“Nom nom in my tum!”

You WILL reap what you sow.

If you sow bad things in your life, they will take root and cause problems. If you sow good things in your life, good things will happen.

This is especially true with health. We all know people that eat candy like it’s going out of style. They say, “I feel great. My body can handle it.”


You don’t see results right away. You can’t plant a seed and see a full grown tree the next day, can you? No. Take care of your body, even if it’s difficult. We are shooting for long term results here, not immediate effects.

5. Spend Some Time With Your Friends

I am naturally an introvert, so this lesson is especially hard for me.

Humans are meant to live in community. We were not meant to work alone, eat alone, and live alone. Friendships are important for personal growth and satisfaction. Take time to nourish these relationships.


“Pretty please, let me off this prison.”

6. Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Have you ever noticed that when you’re sad, you tend to walk slower, hunch over, and look down?

Our physiology is closely tied to how we feel. When we act as if we’re happy, we become happy.

I’m naturally an optimist, so this is a bit easier for me. But for those that are “realists”, trust me on this. Smile even when you don’t feel like smiling and your world will become a bit brighter.

7. Teach Others What You Know


“My baby has to go potty not me.”

My old martial arts teacher once said, “The best way to learn something is to teach it.” I agree wholeheartedly.

This takes the third lesson above (Devote Yourself To Your Passion) to a whole new level. Find others you can teach your passion to and your skill level will grow. You’ll also become even more passionate about it.

8. Try Something New Every Day


“It’s party time.”

This picture is of Emma dancing after I got her off the potty. I’d never seen her do this before but she was actually doing a little dance. Heaven knows she didn’t get it from me!

Is it important to try something new? Very.

I once heard a story about Socrates. Just before he was going to be killed, he was in prison with another inmate. This was the night before he would be beheaded. He had his head in a book.

His fellow inmate asked, “What are you doing?”

He answered, “Learning another language.”

“But you’re going to be killed tomorrow… what’s the point?”

Socrates said, “Because I enjoy it.”

How true. We all have opportunities to learn new things every day. There doesn’t need to be a reason other than the fact that it’s something new and we enjoy it.

9. Reward Yourself For A Job Well Done

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“I don’t know why they keep giving me stickers but I like it.”

At first we thought it would be enough to reward Emma with stickers. The first couple of times she went potty in the toilet, it was good enough.

She quickly learned, however, that stickers weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Especially for doing something as weird as peeing in a can. So we upped the ante. I drove down to Harvest Health and got some (ahem) “healthy” jelly beans.

Are your rewards driving you toward achieving success? If they aren’t, it might be time to find something more potent.

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“I just want to be able to squish in my own poo again.”

10. Don’t Get Down When You Make Mistakes

We all have setbacks in life. No one progresses in a straight line.

Take the time to learn from your mistakes and then move on.

I hope you enjoyed these 10 lessons that I learned from potty training my daughter.

We certainly haven’t achieved success in this area, but like all parents do, we’re pressing onward. Why? Because we don’t expect that our child will wear diapers for the rest of her life.

Expectations are powerful. They set the standards that we will achieve in life.

Great motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, once interviewed Michael Jordan at the height of his career. He asked Michael, “What is your secret to success?” What was Michael’s response?

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“I have high standards for myself. I don’t compete with others. I compete with the standards I have set up for myself.”

Most people have moved beyond the “diaper stage” in their physical life, but are still toddlers in a lot of other ways. They have no goals. They have no dreams. They sit in front of the TV for six hours a day wasting their life.

It’s time to raise your standards.

What would you like to achieve in your life? There’s nothing special about Michael Jordan, Bill Gates or Hannibal for King. They’ve just set higher standards and expectations for their life.

What expectations do you have for your life?

-Todd Kuslikis

Show/Hide Comments (7 comments)
  1. Marc

    Nice post, Todd. I can empathise 😉

    Ps Socrates wasn’t in prison and he wasn’t beheaded; he drank hemlock (poisonous plant)

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Ah, yes. You are right Marc. Maybe it was Plato. I’ll have to do some digging. 😉

  2. Daniel Centilli

    Great post Todd. Good reminder that progress isn’t always in a straight line. Been dealing with an injury and the recovery has been slow. Guilt over getting injured in the first place slowed me down. Now as things are starting to improve, I have had to forgive myself for my training mistakes and move forward, even though it isn’t at the pace I would like. Focusing on gratitude for the progress I have made has been my more recent goal.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      That’s awesome Daniel! Yeah, we definitely have to trust the process and be grateful every step of progress. Good to hear from you!

  3. Timothy Norris

    As always Todd you have left me with something to ponder and really look inside myself and dig deeper to be great. The ten lessons you wrote were just what I needed to get that extra push to follow my passion as a trainer! I believe your words and wisdom are exceptional and a true testimate that if yiu

    • Timothy Norris

      Sorry for the incomplete statement my phone sent before I was ready. But like I was trying to say that if you trust God and trust yourself, anything is possible.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      That’s right Timothy! Totally agree! Trust and belief are critical to achievement! 🙂

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