With the warmer weather and perhaps the prospect of a beach in front of you, the summer holidays may be the ideal time to start potty training your toddler. There is no specific age your toddler should be out of nappies and child-led potty training is always the most successful.
The majority of children potty train somewhere between 18 months and 3 years old, but the important thing is to do what is right for your family at a time that suits you all. It’s not a competition with other parents. Think about what’s right for you and stick to a plan.
The first step is to prepare:
1. A reward system for potty training really helps and everyone who takes care of your child will need to be on board with it to avoid confusing your toddler. Maybe you want to introduce a reward chart or stickers; think about what will appeal to your child.
2. There will be accidents, lots of them. Be prepared to deal with them calmly and never make your child feel bad about them. Buy the appropriate cleaning items in advance and talk to your child’s carers about how you would like accidents to be handled in your absence.
3. Introduce the concept of using the potty or toilet before starting the training. Perhaps mention that mummy, daddy and older siblings don’t use a nappy. Leave the bathroom door open and let your child see you in there. Don’t make using the toilet a shameful thing. Show your toddler the toilet and teach them how to wipe themselves and wash their hands.
4. Bedtime stories such as The Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business are great because they introduce words like ‘poo’ and ‘wee’. Explain the biology of things in ways a toddler will understand and adopt their words for their body parts.
5. If you are gong to introduce a potty, buy one and have it around the house before starting to train so that it’s a familiar object. You can even decorate it with stickers and marker pens.
6. Let your child choose their own set of pants so that they are excited about wearing them.
7. Praise your child when they have done a poo or wee in their nappy to develop body awareness.
8. Hopefully your preparations will have your child at a point where they are excited to try using the potty or toilet. If not, wait until they are, and keep re-enforcing the idea that this is something they can do in the future.
9. Chose a day to start and simply dress your child without a nappy. You can use nappy pants or go straight to dressing them in the pants they have chosen. Even better, take advantage of the warm weather and let your child run around with nothing on.
10. Remember that not all children want to use a potty; some will want to use the toilet straight away. If this is the case, make sure you have a small stool or inner toilet ring in place all the time. Don’t be surprised if your child is frightened of the toilet flush – this is very common at first.
11. Your child is learning to associate the sensations in her body with an action. This takes time. The muscle control that adults have connected to the bladder and rectum doesn’t develop until children are around two years old. Be patient! Your toddler is learning neurologically as well as sociologically.
12. Whenever there is an accident, just calmly take your child to the toilet or put them on the potty to finish off anyway. This will help with association.
13. Take your child to the toilet or put them on the potty every couple of hours just to ‘try’, especially before going out.
14. If your child is really distressed by the process, don’t force the issue. Defecation is a primal human function and forcing things in this area can create long-term issues. If your child is tense around toilet function, they may become constipated or ‘hold on’ to their urine causing urinary tract infections.
15. Don’t attempt potty training when there are other major events in your child’s life such as starting nursery or moving house.Wait until there are fewer distractions and stresses.
16. Remember our children learn by mirroring what they see around them. This might been that you have to demonstrate what a potty is for! Not that I ever did that myself of course… *whistles*
Header Image Credit : Tod Morris