Potty training is a major milestone in a child’s life. For many parents, potty training is difficult. So, in honor of Potty Training Awareness Month (June), I thought it would be the perfect time to share some information/tips to give you a better understanding of the basics of potty training.
Most children begin to show signs that they are ready for potty training between 18 and 24 months, but instead of using age as an indicator, look for other signs that your child may be ready to start the process, such as the ability to:
- Orally express a need to go
- Keep a diaper dry for two hours or more
- Get to the potty, sit on it, and then get off the potty
- Pull down diapers, disposable training pants or underpants
- Show an interest in using the potty or in wearing underpants
There are a few key points to remember during the potty training process. First, teaching a toddler to use the potty isn’t an overnight experience. This will require a lot of time, patience and a willingness to accept setbacks. Remember that accidents will happen. It’s important to recognize all of the little successes during the process, so be sure to praise all attempts to use the toilet, even if nothing happens. During the process, if you show disappointment when a child wets or soils themselves or the bed, it can result in a step back. Instead, offer your support and reassure your child that he or she is well on the way to using the potty like a big kid.
10 Training Tips
Once you see that your child is ready to start learning how to use the potty, these tips may help:
- Don’t make your child sit on the toilet against his or her will. Instead, show your child how you sit on the toilet and explain what you’re doing (because your child learns by watching you). You can also have your child sit on the potty seat and watch while you — or one of his or her siblings — use the toilet.
- Establish a routine. For example, you may want to begin by having your child sit on the potty after waking with a dry diaper, or 45 minutes to an hour after drinking lots of fluid. Only put your child on the potty for a few minutes a couple of times a day, and let your child get up if he or she wants to.
- Try catching your child in the act of pooping. Children often give clear cues that they need to use the bathroom — their faces turn red, and they may grunt or squat. And many kids are regular as to the time of day they tend to have a bowel movement.
- Have your child sit on the potty within 15 to 30 minutes after meals to take advantage of the body’s natural tendency to have a bowel movement after eating (this is called the gastro-colic reflex).
- Remove a bowel movement from your child’s diaper, put it in the toilet, and tell your child that poop goes in the potty.
- Make sure your child’s wardrobe is adaptable to potty training. In other words, avoid overalls and onesies. Simple clothes are a must at this stage and kids who are potty training need to be able to undress themselves.
- Some parents like to let their child have some time during the day without a diaper. If he or she urinates without wearing a diaper, your child may be more likely to feel what’s happening and express discomfort. (But if you opt to keep your child’s bottom bare for a little while, you’ll probably need to keep the potty close by, protect your rugs and carpet and be willing to clean up.)
- When your son is ready to start urinating standing up, have “target practice.” Show him how to stand so that he can aim his urine stream into the toilet. Some parents use things like cereal pieces as a sort of bull’s-eye for their little guys to try aiming at.
- Offer your child small rewards, such as stickers or time reading with Mommy, every time your child goes in the potty. Keep a chart to track successes. Once your child appears to be mastering the use of the toilet, let him or her pick out a few new pairs of big-kid underwear to wear.
- Make sure all of your child’s caregivers — includingbabysittersgrandparents, and child care workers — follow the same routine and use the same names for body parts and bathroom acts. Let them know how you’re handling the issue and ask that they use the same approaches so your child won’t become confused.
There are some stressful or difficult times when you may want to wait to start the toilet-teaching process, for instance when traveling, around the birth of a sibling, changing from the crib to the bed, moving to a new house, or when your child is sick (especially if diarrhea is a factor). It may be better to postpone it until your child’s environment is stable and secure.
Just remember that kids will let you know when they’re ready. If you’re torn about when to start the potty training process, let your child be your guide.
Have specific potty training questions you need answers to? Feel free to email me at AskGoddardSchool@goddardsystems.com or send us your question in an @reply on Twitter. Our Twitter ID is @GoddardSchool.