Potty training can be one of the major milestones in both the life of a child as well as that of the parents. Though it can be a frustrating process initially, this process can help you to deal with any mess more efficiently and also make your child more independent. Potty training does take a little time and patience as well as getting the timing right.
While there is a general misconception that there is a particular age at which your child needs to start potty training, the success of potty training depends at the age where the child is physically and emotionally ready for receiving the training. While some kids may show interest in potty training by the age of two, others may not be ready till they are two and a half years old or even older. You should never rush the process of potty training, since it may actually backfire and take longer to accomplish if you rush the process.
If you want to determine if your child is ready to receive potty training, here are a number of questions that you need to ask yourself-
- Does your child seem to be interested in sitting on the potty chair or in wearing any type of underwear?
- Can your child comprehend and follow any basic directions given to him/her?
- Is your child able to communicate to you by any means if he/she is ready to ?
- Does he/she stay dry for longer than two hours in a day?
- Does he/she dislike dirty or wet diapers and complain about it?
- Can he/she pull down and pull up his/her pants by himself/herself?
- Can the child sit down and rise up from chairs by himself?
If your answer to most of these questions is a yes, you may want to start on potty training your child, else, you should wait, especially if there is any change in the life of the child or upcoming change, such as any move to another place or a sibling. If your child is opposed to the idea now, he may be more open to it in a few months.
After you decide to start on potty training, it is very important to maintain a positive attitude and setting your child up for success and ensuring all your child’s caregivers do the same. This will help to be a positive reinforcement that will encourage him to try harder.
Here are the steps you need to follow to potty train your child-
- Place the potty chair in the bathroom or any place where the child spends the most of his/her time. Then you can help to encourage your child to decorate the chair, which will familiarize him/her with it and ease your task of encouraging your child to sit on the potty chair, with or without having diapers on. At this point you must ensure that his feet are placed firmly on the ground or on a stool.
- If your child seems ready, ask him/her to sit on the potty chair/toilet without having a diaper on for a few minutes several times a day. It is easier to have boys train to urinate while sitting down originally and then move on to standing. Read your child a book about potty training or give him a toy to play with when he is sitting on the chair. Stay with him/her while he/she is in the bathroom and offer encouragement for trying even if he just sits there. If you are going somewhere, bring the potty for consistency.
- When you start noticing any signs that the child may need to use the toilet, such as squirming, holding the genitals or squatting, act on your feet and help the child to reach the potty. This can help him to learn how to identify when he needs to go and stop and go to the potty chair. Teach your child how to wipe properly and let them flush and teach them to wash their hands well after flushing.
- Positive reinforcements can be a great idea for some children. Stickers, or stars on a chart can be a good incentive for training your child or extra playtime when they do a good job. Verbal praise can also help to serve as positive reinforcement and can help them to respond better to the training.
- After a few weeks of successful potty training, you may want to trade the diapers for underwear or training pants. Let your child choose the underwear and when he makes the switch, ensure that you avoid any kinds of overalls, belts or other clothing items that can possibly hinder undressing.
- While mastering daytime bladder control is easy for most children, it may be a whole different ballgame to control night-time bed-wetting. It can take up to years after the child is potty trained to be completely accident free, so don’t push it, relax and let him go at his own pace. Use disposable pants, oil cloths or mattress covers in the meantime.
- If your child ends up resisting the training or is not getting the hang of it within a few weeks of starting the training, take a break. Come back to it after a few weeks when he is more comfortable with the idea.
Accidents will happen
Even though you may think that your job is done after your child learns how to use the toilet, you need to expect some accidents occasionally and near-misses.
- Offering reminders- Accidents happen most often when kids are involved or absorbed in any kind of activity that are momentously more interesting than going up and using the toilet. To help reduce mishaps due to this, you can schedule some regular trips to the bathroom at regular intervals like first thing in the morning, after meals and snacks and before going out or going to bed. Do not let them hold in the pee and point out every time they are holding it in.
- Stay calm. Do not scold your kid if he misses, rather, encourage him to be more careful the next time.
- If your kid has a lot of accidents, be prepared and keep a change of clothes at hand, especially at school and day care.
Although there will be occasional accidents, and these are harmless and pretty common, these can lead to your child being bullied, embarrassed and alienated from his/her peers. If your child reverts after receiving potty training after 4 years of age or if you are concerned about the accidents and your child being bullied because of them, you can consult a doctor. Some wetting problems may point to an underlying medical condition like an UTI or an overactive bladder. With prompt treatment, this can be managed and controlled.