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Potty Training – A Simple 4 Step Formula for Initiating Toilet Training
“I’m so done with diapers! moaned a mother, looking at the high price of the big package of diapers. “Is it time for my child to start potty training?” »
Potty training is an important milestone for children. But how do parents know when to start? Intuition, expectation, common sense and observation play a key role in the initiation of toilet training.
Step #1-Create a Parent/Child Team
Potty training is a combined effort between parent and child. Some parents may assume they are responsible, while other parents put the child in the driver’s seat. In reality, toilet training is a partnership. Parents provide support, potty training tools, books and dry clothes; children make the “go”.
Understanding the concept that potty training is a team effort between parent and child, not a command and control situation, is critical to success. The strict and impatient pursuit of the goal puts pressure on the child, which leads to stress, anxiety and, in some cases, delayed toilet training.
Step #2 – Starting Early Doesn’t Guarantee Quick Results
Extensive research on intensive potty training has proven that early initiation of the process is actually correlated with prolonged duration of potty training. Parents who begin training prematurely find that the potty training process takes longer.
Children must develop bladder and muscle control before they can control potty training. Parents can follow this rough preparation schedule: 15 to 18 months, the child feels that his clothes are wet; 18 months the child can urinate on the potty if placed on it; 2-2 1/2 years the child can alert the parent that he must leave; and 3-4 years old, the child may have the ability to “hold it” and go to the toilet on their own.
Step #3-Determine readiness based on child’s development
When deciding to start the potty training process, chronological age may not be the right indicator of readiness. The parent should look for signs that the child is developmentally ready. This is especially true for babies born prematurely and children who are developmentally delayed.
Some good signs of readiness are: child can sit and walk well child can stay dry for 2 hours or more child is interested in doing what older children or adults are doing child is able to follow and carry out simple instructions, and child seems to understand what the potty is for and use words related to using the toilet.
Parents should assess the child’s temperament. Important questions to ask are: is the child able to concentrate, what is their attention span, is the child easily frustrated, is they easily angry or discouraged.
For most children, potty training takes place between the ages of 2 and 3, with the majority of children being toilet trained by age 4.
Step #4 – Go now, go!
Today is the day! Parents should make sure the child is healthy and the household is calm and there is no impending commotion such as an upcoming move, a new baby brought home, or a parent leaving travelling.
Dress the child in easy-to-remove clothing such as sweatpants with an elastic waistband. Snaps, buttons and zippers are hard on little hands and time-consuming to manipulate when the mood strikes. To reduce pressure on the child, allow him to stay in diapers for the first few days of potty training. Gradually turn it into underwear for short periods as its drying times get longer and longer.
After a meal, a nap or coming from outside are good times to encourage the child to jump on the potty. Parents should be on the lookout for indicators of when the child might want to go.
Accompany the child to the potty and stay with him. The visit to the bathroom should be short and sweet; five minutes is a long time. Offer reading materials or use a fun potty training tool or toy to make the five minutes engaging. Important: if the child wants to leave the potty before five minutes, do not force him to stay.
Praise, praise, praise! Small milestones deserve lots of hugs and kisses. It’s really something for a little kid to jump on the potty on their own, pull their pants up, or head to the bathroom (even if only to be a little late.) Be nice, patient, sensitive and proud. Never scold the child for having had accidents.
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