Potty training may seem scary at first, but it doesn’t have to be stressful for your child and neither for you. You may have heard a good deal of crazy stories from your relatives, friends, or other parents enough to give you the jitters. Or the opposite may be true – you rarely heard anything about this childhood rearing phase, and maybe that’s just because it’s one of the top taboo subjects for most moms.
However, once you get through all the hurdles of both opinions and silence out there, you’ll find that potty training can actually be a fun few days for the whole family. With everyone’s cooperation, it can even be treated as playtime while accomplishing this grand goal.
And once you’re armed enough with good information, you you can actually potty train your child in just a couple of days.
Potty Training is simple in concept but it may seem quite of a challenge to execute. If you’re a first-time parent, learning with a blank slate of experience may have its advantages. Now if you’re like me and have been around the block, you probably have your own set of opinions in place. It’s good to remind ourselves that while learning styles are different for every child, there are methods that remain tried and proven. And it is through these methods that you can build on and branch out to variations as you see fit for your own child.
Potty Training works best when both you and your child are ready, and equipping you with the knowledge in this resource is already half the job done.
So, shall we begin?
Is Your Child Ready To Ditch Diapers?
There is no precise “when” in terms of age to start potty training your child, however your child needs to be physically and emotionally ready to start potty training.
Before you go to far into the potty training process, you want to determine first if your child is truly ready, because even if you as a parent are ready, you need to make sure that your child is ready as this is often the biggest mistake parents make about potty training
Here’s a quick checklist to give you an idea if your child is ready.
> Asking to be changed – Does your toddler ask to have her diaper changed when wet or soiled? Do you ever find her removing her used diaper? If you notice your child getting uncomfortable with wet diapers, then calling your attention or actively doing something about it, consider it one of the signs.
> Fewer wet diapers – A combination of your kid urinating less often and experiencing consistent dryness over periods of time (couple of hours or after naps).
> Bowel movements become predictable – Moms can often tell when their kid needs to poop, but one of the clear signs is when you start seeing a regular pattern of your child’s bowel movement, and particularly if your child asks or points to the toilet or their potty when they need to go.
> Getting uncomfortable wearing diapers: If your child has the habit of bringing you their diaper and says “pee pee”, it’s most likely because your child doesn’t like being wet and probably a sign that your kid is good-to-go for the potty.
> Undresses easily: If your child is having a hard time undressing, it may prove difficult when nature calls. Getting undressed and running around naked is normal toddler behavior. It’s their way of showing their personality but can also be a subtle hint that your child may be ready for potty training.
Can follow simple instructions: A pre-requisite to potty training is how they understand and respond. If you find yourself having an easier time when you ask your child to pick up their toys, open their mouth (when eating), smile, or hug daddy, then your kid could be ready for the next level.
Once you’ve determined that your child is ready, and yourself as a parent are ready, it’s time to proceed confidently to the planning and preparation phase.
Preparing the Groundwork
First things first. Know when it’s the right time to potty train. Remember that while most children learn this art between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, some start earlier or later. Also, your little boy’s brain can’t distinguish what “being two” means, and neither do his private parts. So be careful that you don’t rush them out too early and too soon.
An extra word on rushing your training. It seldom works and it often has negative consequences. This usually occurs because parents feel the pressure of keeping up with other parents who’ve had “success” with their kids at a younger age. Nothing can be more counter-productive though and studies have shown that going this route often leads to the process taking longer with more resistance on the child’s part, and stress in the parent’s. It’s best to trust your intuition when the time is right to take them out of their nappies. And you don’t have to rush as pre-potty preparations can also come as early as the tenth month. Also, almost every child becomes daytime independent in their fourth year, so in essence – everyone still arrives at the finish line.
PPP (Pre-Potty Preparations)
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but consistent preparations were made for the establishment of that grand city. The same thing applies to your future Superman or Wonderwoman. Toilet training doesn’t happen overnight but things can go smoother if one lays the foundations in place. You can also liken it to planting seeds and making sure the soil is fertile, giving it the best chance to naturally grow.
You’ll know all the hard work has paid off when your child responds well to the change from nappies, and you surprise yourself that the training phase went easier than expected.
Buy a potty and get him used to it.
Simpler is better. It doesn’t have to be expensive, brightly decorated with almost every cartoon character in
their era, or one that has a lot of accessories attached to it. The idea is to make him comfortable with the potty. You may want to write his name on it with coloured permanent markers to create a sense of ownership. If your child is too young, just get him acquainted with it every day and let him play with it if he wants to. Some parents allow their children to turn it into a hat or a battle station. You can also designate a specific place in the house where the potty is located. Make sure it’s easily seen.
Talk to him about the toilet
Whenever you have the chance, bring the topic up and explain the process as natural as possible. If say, when he hears you or someone use the flush, and he shows that look of undivided attention, tell him what just happened. “Mommy just went pee-pee using the toilet!” or “Uncle Ben went poo-poo!” Then proceed in telling how the stuff goes down, where it goes, and what you do next (wipe your bottom, wash your hands, and flush the handle). Throw in words of encouragement after your creative spill, such as how it’s going to be awesome when he gets bigger and wears pants like you or his dad and doesn’t have to use nappies anymore.
Be interactive and use facial expressions and body gestures as generously as possible. And don’t worry about looking silly or stupid! Your child doesn’t know what that means.
Use the power of imitation
It comes as no surprise that children learn best by imitation. Interestingly, the younger they are, the more powerful this learning style is. Things they pick up become easily and deeply ingrained in their subconscious. How to use this to benefit you both? Let him see you whenever you use the toilet. Show him the works. Then in an excited tone, tell him he can do the same when he’s a bigger kid. You can also use role play and have him use his potty even with his nappies on. Or if he has a favorite stuffed toy, involve it by asking if say, Mr. Elmo would like to poo as well. Then proceed acting it out together with Elmo.
If he’s got older siblings or cousins who are already potty trained, let him watch them as well. At first he’s just going to get curious, but chances are he would eventually want to mimic them as well. This is basically an introduction to peer pressure potty training. Soon, when he starts to have friends older than him, you would also do the same thing.
Limit having a drink before bedtime
This simply makes it easier when it comes time to implement the rule of not allowing your child to take in any liquids two hours before bedtime once potty training officially starts.
Before we look at different methods, it’s important to understand that there is no right or wrong method. Each situation is different and so is yours. You’ve got to choose the method which both your child and yourself as a parent feel comfortable to use.
Read books or watch DVDs
To help your child warm-up to the potty training process, choose a few good books and selected DVDs. Then allot time during the day to go through them. There are a lot of recommended books / media you can use in the marketplace. Some of the most commonly ones vouched by parents (due to the impact they have on their kids) are the following:
- “StartPottyTraining” (FREE Video on site) by Carol Cline
- “Where’s the Poop?” by Julie Markes
- “Uh Oh! Gotta Go! Potty Tales from Toddler” by Bob McGrath
Pick a potty training method that suits you:
Description – As the name suggests, parents use this method just weeks after childbirth. Notice how babies often exhibit the same behavior when they are hungry or tired. This kind of behavior is actually similar as well when they feel the urge to “pee” or “poo”. Dad or mom can pick up on these signs and use this to immediately start potty training.
Description – A method for busy parents or parents who want to take things slowly, but still eventually arrive at the intended destination (potty success). There’s actually no series of steps to use here. It’s more of a general introduction to the whole thing and coming up with consistent practice sessions (“sit-and-pee”) until the nappies finally come of and underwear is officially introduced. Some parents use reward charts as well to track their child’s progress and make this process fun and enjoyable.
Description – This method was first originally designed for children with special needs but has grown into popularity ever since it was made famous by Dr.Phil and Claire Haines and her website. It really is not confined to just one day as there is follow through involved. What does happen in that “big day” is focused teaching using a systematic approach. Parents allot a few hours for their child, accompanied by a potty and a potty training doll. They select one part of the house or clear an area free from clutter and other toys. Mom then walks her child through the whole process, using the doll by feeding it water and then showing how the doll eliminates them in the potty. She then asks her child to do the same thing with the doll. Once success is met with the role play, a few days of follow-through training on actual scenarios are made until the child masters it.
Description – Based on the premise that kids dislike wetting themselves, this method is vouched by Dr. Barton Schmidt, a pediatrics professor in Colorado, and involves stripping the child below the waist, then letting them run around naked and play as usual, and let the child figure out how to use the potty in the process. To make it more effective, parents initially block of 6 hours in a set day (or spend the weekend) and focus on facilitating their child’s ability to master the potty. Liquids are given in occasional bursts and the potty chair is always placed in a conspicuous place. Choosing and confining your child to a room or the backyard (better especially in summer) also helps and minimizes messes (which often happens).
It should be noted that this method is recommended by Dr. Schmidt for children above 30 months who have used the potty several times already with parental help, but have had difficulty making the transition from practice runs to potty independence. Although Schmidt reports a high success rate, this method hasn’t garnered much further studies and support.