Succeeding at potty training is an exciting milestone in every toddler's development that, at the same time, can come with some difficulties.
Tired of changing nappies, a lot of parents rush the process without realising that it's not about them, but about their kids. While there are some children who are quick learners when it comes to using the toilet and controlling such physiological needs, others have a really bad time at getting rid of nappies.
Most babies become aware of a full bladder or rectum when they are about one year old, but it's not until they turn two when they will be more likely to start potty training. Of course, there are exceptional cases in which toddlers will start 'visiting' the toilet before being 20 months old, but in most of them, the adaptation process to such a change will last until the kid is 3 years old.
Isn't the whole issue curious? Don't pass up the opportunity of getting as much information as possible by reading the following text!
Potty training: Understanding your child
As said in the first lines, the whole point is to make things easier for your kid, who, first of all, needs to be ready to start the process. And how can you know if your little one is prepared to step up to pee and poo like an adult? Consider the following:
- Your munchkin should be able to follow simple instructions and be able to walk and sit down without any problems.
- If he's capable of taking his trousers off and putting them back on, that's another good sign to be potty-trained.
- Consider if there are factors that, at the time, may be a little stressful and new for your kid. For example, if he just started going to preschool or he just had a little brother or sister, you may want to put off potty training for a few weeks, since it is a stressful process as well.
The timeline also needs to be convenient for you, since you may have to dedicate extra time to him and be very supportive. Finally remember that potty training girls might differ a bit from potty training boys.
Potty training: What will you need?
Once you think your kid may be willing to accept the challenge, you should buy the right equipment to make it easier. The best choice would be for you to get a potty chair because its small size may be a lot more 'inviting' to your son or daughter than the 'grown-up' toilet one. Buying an adapter seat that attaches to the toilet is another option, but if you invest in it, don't forget to get a stool as well -your kid will need it to get up and down from the toilet and to keep his feet braced.
Whether he ends up using a potty chair or an adapter seat, be sure that it adapts to your child, because if he doesn't feel good about it or it makes him insecure, it could ruin potty training!
Potty training: How can I do it?
There are many ways through which you can encourage your child to embrace potty training. In the beginning, it can be terrifying for him because he may have a particular perception of a toilet: a 'big bowl' that makes loud noises and swallows things can be pretty scary for a two-year-old child!
Part of the plan is to change this vision and turn it into the natural place to pass stool and wee. To do so, you should create a routine based on placing your kid on his potty chair or the toilet after meals or whenever he's expected to have bowel movements. Another tip consists in demonstrating for him, since kids tend to imitate what they see -if you do it, he can do it as well! Here you will find many other potty training tips that you can try.
Explaining the process to him with easy words while creating a fun atmosphere can also be very useful. Other hints include using training pants, which are disposable, and a potty training chart to keep track of your kid's improvements. But, above all, get ready to be very patient, because the process may last for months and may include some setbacks.
Potty training: Facing problems
Potty training hardly ever goes smoothly, so expect to come across many obstacles. Here are some usual potty training problems:
- Refusing potty training: your child may get upset when you want him to practise either with his potty chair or the toilet. In front of this situation, avoid pushing him and wait until he is calm.
- Fearing the toilet: sometimes, toddlers are just panicky because of the toilet appearance and noise. Why don't you first make him sit down on it with his clothes on until he gets a little familiar with it?
- Peeing, but not pooing: it's easier for children to urinate rather than defecate. The latter implies more concentration, so the reason why he doesn't do it may be due to insecurity and lack of confidence.
- Messy accidents: no kid has undergone potty training without 'accidents'. Wet trousers, poo out of control... it won't be pretty, but the last thing you should do is punish him and make him feel bad. That could be counterproductive, since he may want to stick to nappies.
- Constipation: if your little one gets constipated while being potty-trained, that may slow his adaptation. Under this circumstance, his feeling of discomfort can get mixed with the anxiety of using the toilet. This association can make him more resistant to try again.
- New environment, old habits: it's not unusual for kids who have finally reached this milestone to go backwards when they get to a new environment -for instance, when they start preschool-. Don't be surprised if at that point they can use their home toilets like champs, but they refuse to go to the school ones. This is part of the same process, so it may take a while for them to get confident.
- Accidents are back: when children have just started using the toilet, they can still have sudden and isolated accidents. These are generally caused by small changes in their lives that can throw them off.
In general, kids learn how to go to the toilet during daytime, but night time potty training is also necessary. Maybe, you should give your little one a break and let a few weeks go by before start working on it. To do so, you should first buy a plastic mattress protector and have a pile of clean sheets, blankets and pyjamas ready, because there will be accidents for many days and even weeks. Don't forget to praise him when he makes it to stay dry through the night and, specially, don't be harsh on him while cleaning up the mess. After all, you know it's a not a big deal and he's not doing it on purpose.
Finally, potty training is such an effort for both you and your kid. It is one of the most important development milestones for toddlers, and he needs to be adventurous and overcome his fears, but the only way that he can do so is by having encouraging parents who don't blame him all the time. We've already said it, but it's important to keep it in mind: be patient! Nobody likes to change wet clothes or sheets at 4 AM, but this situation won't last forever. Don't ditch his nappies yet, because he may still need them for a little while, but don't give up potty training. He'll only get used to the toilet if this becomes part of his routine.