Potty Training 101
Potty or toilet training is a special time in your baby’s life. For the child, the challenge is developing control over their bladder and stomach, and applying this newfound skill as they try to understand their parent’s instructions. For the parents, it’s learning to effectively teach something second nature to them and explain it to a beginner – overwhelming, but doable. As with any cooperative effort, communication and patience go a long way.
If you think it’s time to start potty training your child, consider the following:
Is Your Child Ready?
According to Dr. Mark Wolraich, professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, “The average age at which a child will start to show interest in learning to potty train is around 2 years, but it’s a bell shaped curve – some will go earlier and others not until 3 or even 4.”
While there is a marker, all children will be ready on their own time. Your job then is to assess your child’s behavior and spot certain signs.
Your child might be ready if they:
- Look for privacy or goes quiet when they pee or poop in their diaper
- Show interest in the toilet or in wearing underwear
- Can follow basic instructions
- Express through facial reactions or words when they need to go
- Stay dry during the day for 2 hours or longer
- Complain about wet or dirty diapers
Lead By Example
From time to time, take your child to the bathroom with you when you have to go. Let your child observe how you use the toilet and wash your hands after you’ve finished. This helps your child understand how going to the potty works and what it looks like.
Be Mindful and Respond Quickly
When you see your child showing signs of needing to use the toilet (such as by squirming, squatting, and holding the genital area), act on it right away and take them to the toilet. This helps your child identify these signals faster and be accustomed to going to the potty.
For girls, show them how to wipe carefully from front to back. Explain that this prevents germs from the rectum area from reaching the vagina. They may not understand this yet, but it’s never too early to start instilling good hygiene in your child.
Each time your child successfully goes potty, give them verbal praise, and be positive to encourage them. Even when they aren’t successful, stay positive. Never punish them and make them feel that the toilet really is a comfort room and they are not to be punished for using it.
Set a Schedule
It’s good to be consistent. Suggest going to the bathroom at set times of the day like when they wake up in the morning, before riding the car, after dinner, and before bedtime, among others. Even if they end up not going, it’s still encouraged to have them sit on the potty a few minutes at a time throughout the day. This is a good way to condition them to use the toilet.
If your child has used the toilet consistently for a couple of weeks, you can get rid of the diapers.
While your child might be able to stay dry during the day, nap and sleep time is different. Kids are usually deep sleepers and often sleep through what would’ve been a potty session. Staying dry through day and nighttime sleep may take months or years compared to the two to three months it takes them to learn to control their bladder when awake. For this, consider disposable training pants.
Everyone falls at least once when learning to ride a bike; learning to use the bathroom is no different. Your child will have accidents, so tell them it’s all right and ask them to help you clean up. Take the opportunity to remind them to use the potty next time.
Rain Check on Training
If your child resists or is having a difficult time using the toilet within the first few weeks, maybe he just isn’t ready yet. You can hold out for a few months.
Also, know that major events and life changes can make potty training difficult. For instance, moving to a new home or a death in the family can cause your child’s potty skills to regress or return to a less developed state, notes Wolraich. Your job is to simply be patient and continue potty training and encouraging them.
With these tips in place, you are on your way to successfully potty training your child. For more information and EQ support, feel free to ask our experts here.