Consistency is key!

While I’ve known some parents who say (jokingly we think) “sometimes I think it would just be easier to keep them in diapers!” we all know that you don’t really mean it and that it might actually be nice to spend those extra few dollars on something other than disposables.  I’ve also known plenty who say “stop stressing, they won’t go to Kindergarten wearing diapers…” but the fact is some kids might. Why? Because they just weren’t ready. We know of one parent whose child sat on the toilet screaming and when she eventually gave up, that same child came and took her by the hand two months later and said “I have to pee” and never wore a diaper again, no “training” required.  So, if you’re facing the dilemma of whether to start, today we are going to talk potty training and when to consider beginning the adventure!

For most kids, the average age considered ready for potty training lies somewhere between 18 and 30 months.  Girls are typically completely trained at 29 months and boys by 31 months. That said, there are plenty of reasons why your child might fall outside of the bell curve and there are plenty of good reasons not to start potty training. Moving, the arrival of a sibling or a change in pre-schools are all trying times and attempting to introduce potty skills might simply be too much for your child to handle. It can be frustrating enough and if your child is already dealing with other life-changing events, now is not the time.

Be Consistent

Timing is everything. You might want to wait until the summertime and you might want to take a day or two off work or enlist the help of determined family members who can assist you.  Create a potty training schedule, and plan to visit the bathroom every 20 – 30 minutes. Have your child sit on the potty every time, even if they say they don’t have to go. Although every 30 minutes may sound too frequent, a shorter time span helps to ensure your child goes in the potty instead of anywhere else.

Once they connect sitting, going to the bathroom with results and you doing the happy dance, the interval time can be extended and eventually phased out.

The Naked Truth

Letting your child run around naked for a weekend may help. Talk about immediately connecting the dots between the feeling and the end product! Sometimes children can be annoyed with having to remove a diaper or pull-ups plus their clothing each time they sit on the potty. This makes it easy and accidents (especially if outside and in the summer) are easy to clean up. However, for some kids the feeling of being wet, or having a bowel movement makes them realize it’s uncomfortable and it’s better to do their business in the potty.

Still on the topic and depending on your own comfort level and cultural norms, some parents will also model toileting by allowing their child to accompany them while they use the facilities. Perhaps a bit easier when a Father is teaching a son to stand vs. sit and this is definitely a very personal choice for each family.

Knowing The Best Steps For Success

  • Step 1:  Ensuring your child is actually ready for toileting.

  • Step 2:  Ensuring no other inhibiting factors are in play. ie: birth of a sibling, moving or changing schools.

  • Step 3:  Buy a book or DVD like Uh Oh Gotta Go or Everyone Poops. Buy it several weeks in advance of when you want to start training and read it to your child several times.  Ask them if this is something they think they would like to try.

  • Step 4:  Ensure you have the appropriate equipment on hand.  Kids are sometimes intimidated by the adult sized, water filled container with a huge whole in the middle that sucks away all of their poop! Where does it go? Why is it so loud? What if I get sucked in too? Think about it from your child’s perspective. A toilet can be a scary thing. Invest in a potty or two and keep them in all your bathrooms. Then, when it’s time to graduate to the big toilet, buy a seat adapter so your child feels safe and comfortable. Once toileting becomes a habit, these aids can be phased out.

  • Step 5:  Consider if you are going to reward. The jury is out on whether to reward a child for toileting behaviour and when. Each time they sit and “try” or only when they produce “results?” Some parents have found their kids get wise to the fact they have the undivided attention of the parent and they enjoy it. “The” has this to say on the subject: “First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between a reward and a bribe. The line can get a bit blurry here, but the essential difference is this: A reward follows the behavior you’re trying to reinforce, and a bribe precedes it. Also, a reward should be given as soon as possible after the noble deed so as to make a firm association between the behavior and the positive reinforcement.” Again, we think this is a personal decision that each family must make when the time comes.

At Alpha’s Preschool Academy we believe it’s important to remember that each child is different and the tips and tricks you used with one child may not work with a sibling. What we know for sure is that consistency is key and that potty training takes time. Make sure your child is ready and perhaps even more importantly, make sure you as the parents and caregivers are ready to devote the time it takes. Finally, recognize that accidents will happen and that’s ok. For most kids, by the time kindergarten rolls around diapers are a distant memory.