Toilet training is one of those parenting milestones that’s unavoidable. It can be daunting for both parent and child and knowing when to start can be the trickiest thing to work out. If you’re embarking on toilet training, here are some tips to get you and your toddler on the path to toilet trained bliss.
Go with the Flow!
There is no hard and fast rule that potty training should be done by a certain age or within a certain time frame. You must remember and embrace the fact that every child is different what worked for baby #1 may not work for baby #2. Even a set of identical twins may take to toilet training in surprisingly opposite ways. Expect the unexpected and go with the flow! The less stress and worry you have during this process the better experience for all.
Are they ready?
You might be keen on saying goodbye to nappies forever, but toilet training is not just about our comfort and readiness as parents. Kids are very receptive and will let you know when they are ready, verbally or otherwise. Follow and respect their cues. If your child wakes up dry in the morning or from naps, then they are most likely ready. If they ask to sit on the toilet like mommy or big sister, by all means, let them! Whatever you do, though, don’t force the issue. It has been proven that toddlers can regress if the training process is started too early. There is no magic age to start potty training, but many kids show signs of readiness somewhere between the ages of two and three years. There are lots of great books about toilet training out there, so it could be beneficial to read a few together to reiterate the concept before starting, too.
Underwear Vs Pull Ups
Enlist your child’s help in selecting their own special underwear or surprise her with underwear featuring their favourite characters or colours. When you’ve deemed your child ready to start potty training, put him or her in underwear straight away (and clear your schedule for the day). Putting your child in a pull-up rather than underwear can cause some confusion, as they are feeling the same as a nappy, providing the children with the option to wet themselves if needed. When you start their day in underwear, they’ll quickly get used to the yucky feeling of being wet and try to avoid it. You can count on accidents on the first day or two or possibly the whole week. Lastly, understand that night-time training is a whole other scenario that can take a much longer time children to master. Overnight pull-ups and waterproof mattress protectors can be your best friend in those early days of potty training.
A Job Well Done
Toddlers are human, and its human nature to seek incentives for a job well done. Rewards should only be offer once the child has used the toilet/potty. You could ask you child to help decorate a ‘prize’ box then fill it with a variety of small knickknacks from the dollar store, stickers or possibly some edible rewards like smarties and lollipops. Sticker charts can also be very motivating for some children as they can visually see how well they have done.
Give Firm Reminders
There are certain things you need to accept when attempting toilet training with your child. Accidents are going to happen, and your patience is paramount. There will be some frustrating times ahead, but you must remember to stay clear of any negativity, punishments, shaming, or pushing throughout the toilet training journey. Always keep in mind that kids generally don’t want to stop what they’re doing to rush off to the bathroom, they are having too much fun. Give your child regular reminders (you will need to tell them to go, if you ask you will be most probably be greeted with a no) throughout the day to go to the toilet, they may not read their bodies cues especially in the early stages. Watch for any visual cues – squirming, holding their legs tight, walking slowly on tiptoes with their knees together can all be signs they need to go. As soon as you notice that they might be holding it in, pick them up and take them directly to the toilet or potty. If your child is constantly wetting himself or not taking to toileting easily, give yourself permission to take a break and try again in a few weeks.
Toilet Training Travel
While toilet training at home can be difficult, trying to go out and about while toilet training can cause some added stress to both you and the child. While it may be easy to put them in a pull up or nappy to go out, this can once again cause confusion for the child. Before leaving the house take your child to the toilet, let them know that you are going out and allow them time to go while you pack the car. Also consider what you dress your child in for the day, they will need something that is easily removed for toileting, especially for those last-minute dashes to the toilet. Another idea is to have a potty in the car at all times, that way if you are not near a toilet your child doesn’t need to hold or have an accident before you get to the toilet. If you are worried about the car seat, placing a disposable change mat or towel over the seat will give you the protection you need in case of an accident.
Toilet training is a gradual process, one that takes time and patience. Some children will get the concept quicker; others will still want a nappy for doing a poo, others may regress after being fully toilet trained for weeks and some might absolutely refuse to use public toilets. One thing we always need to remember is to listen to the child and go with them at their pace, getting frustrated and angry at them will have the opposite effect. As you celebrate the fact of no more nappies, your panic now turns to ‘where is the nearest toilet’ Children will all get there in the end, we just need to support them through this milestone!