Encore: Potty Training

Growing YearsDue to several inquiries concerning potty training, I am encoring and earlier article.

Potty training… the mere word strikes fear in the hearts of even the bravest of us. The good news is that many have been there and survived. We each have different stories to tell because there are many ways to potty train a child. All children are different, thus, the potty method will vary according to each child. However, there are common things we can do to prepare our children for potty training, a few rules to follow.

First rule: Know your child. This seems so simple, yet it requires really observing your child’s behaviors to determine the right time to start. All children are different, making starting time different as well. My daughter was potty trained very early, while my son was somewhat later with his training. This is very normal, so do not panic if your child trains at a different pace than other children. If you follow the rules, when the time is right, training will happen. Before potty training can occur successfully, you should be observing certain things with your child. When diapering, you should be observing how long your child stays dry. Staying dry for longer periods is a signal that the bladder is actually ready to potty train. Mentally, jot down the time of day that you find the fullest diaper. I know that diapers have come a long way, but when considering training, do more diaper checks in order to know how long your child is staying dry.

Second rule: Prepare your child. This step is really easy and very necessary to successful potty training. When your child has the receptive language skills to understand, introduce “potty language”. Say things like; “Let’s change your diaper”, “did you peepee,” “let’s clean the poop,” etc.. The language you use is not important, so choose any words to represent the process you wish. As soon as your child can expressively answer your questions with “yes or no,” ask: “are you wet,” “have you poo pooed,” “do I smell poo poo,” “let’s check, yes your wet,” When official training begins, the language will be in your child’s knowledge base. One more preparation is necessary. When the language is ready (see above), have your child “help” with diaper changes. Start with carrying the diaper to the changing spot. Progress to getting the diaper as well, then to taking the diaper off, next taking the diaper to the trash in the bathroom. Go through the routine you will use when training, such as washing hands and drying, etc. As soon as fine motor skills will allow, let your child put his/her pull up on independently. Start with helping to pull up, and progress to completely putting the pull up on. This is also a good time to set the potty in the bathroom so the child will become accustomed to seeing it there. The actual training will be much easier, with this step mastered. Now you can concentrate on “pee peeing” in the potty vs. diaper.

Third rule: Train yourself. I know this sounds strange, but very necessary. In fact, the beginning of potty training is really about training the care giver. The child follows our schedule and instructions. We must be ready to follow through with what we start. We must be patient and diligent. We must not waiver from our plan, and if we are ready, training will be complete within a couple of weeks.

Fourth rule: Schedule your child. Devise a plan. If you have followed the rules, you know when your child is naturally “pee peeing.” You also know when he/she naturally has a bowel movement. With this knowledge, start your plan. Regardless of your child being wet in the morning, upon getting up, go to the potty. Do this immediately, do not let your child stay in the wet diaper. It is important during training to keep your child dry! It is also important to get rid of the daytime diaper. It is underwear time. Make a huge deal about getting into big boy/girl underwear. Get ready to wash, as in the beginning you will be changing often. During this time either forget about the pants, or have plenty of extras around. Always potty before and after napping. Always potty before going to bed and after getting up. These times are not negotiable. In addition to these times, set your schedule for every one to two hours, depending on your child. As he/she begins to produce “pee pee,” you can start moving to longer and longer periods between potty times. Keep it consistent and do not miss times. Just say, “Let’s go potty.” While on the potty, sing, talk or play games like I Spy. Do not stay on the potty more than 5 minutes. You might want to turn the water on in the bathroom for extra encouragement. When time is up, have your child look in the potty and see if there is anything in it. If nothing is there, say “maybe next time,” go through your hand washing routine and then forget about it until the next time. When your child does produce, make a big deal about it with ”big boy/girl” words. Have your child pour it into the big potty and flush. Finish your routine and forget about it until the next scheduled time. The idea is to make going to the potty seem like a natural event. Little boys may want to stand like daddy. Daddy can model the technique by letting his son go potty with him, letting him try at the same time. If using the standing method, put cheerio’s in the pot to sink, to teach aiming skills. Whatever you do, do not let potty training be stressful for your child. This will result in delayed and difficult training. Be creative with the time your child is sitting on the potty. Make it fun.

Fifth rule: Consistency and patience. You must finish what you start or you will find it becomes harder later on. Just be consistent and stick to your schedule and you will have success. Be patient and make the experience a positive one for you and your child. The ordeal will soon be over and you will be rewarded for the few weeks involved.

I hope this is helpful. Most of the time potty training runs very smoothly, but sometimes children can become resistant. If you have specific questions, place them in the comment section and I will try to answer as many as possible.