Parenting: Potty training
March 6, 2012 (WPVI) -- It's been a while since I toilet trained my 12-year-old son - 10 years to be exact. But I do remember Jake was in no hurry to be rid of his diaper. Wet diapers are so absorbent that they aren't very uncomfortable, so my son didn't feel the urgency to go to the bathroom.
Now, a decade later, I'm about to start potty training my twin boys, Hunter and Zeke. It won't be boring, I can assure you!
If you're trying to train your child to go to the bathroom, there are some wonderful guidelines and hints out there. I'll summarize a few, but you can get much more information and reassurance from this website. www.pull-ups.com
First, you should see if your child is "ready" to learn. Experts say these are the clear signals that your little one is physically and emotionally mature enough to take on such a project:
1. If your child rarely struggles with you over getting dressed and the daily routine; even better if your child can pull up or down their own pants.
2. If your child can sit for 10-15 minutes for an activity.
3. If your child only says "no" when he or she means it, not to everything.
4. If your child imitates adult behavior, helping clean up, helping cook, helping put toys away.
5. If your child is off the bottle
6. If your child tells you before he goes to the bathroom in his diaper.
7. If your child uses words for urinating and bowel movements.
8. If your child is interested in the toilet, practicing flushing it, opening and closing the lid, watching the water swirl. My boys especially love this one.
9. If your child stays dry for two hour periods consistently.
10. If there are no other transitions going on: giving up a bottle/pacifier, moving to a big-kid bed, getting a new sibling, starting nursery school, separation from a parent, moving to a new home, etc.
11. If your child is over the excitement of learning to walk and run.
12. If your child can follow simple directions.
13. If your child wants toys and possessions to go where they belong. It shows a desire to be neat and have an order to things.
14. If your child has bowel movements at regular times every day.
Once your little one can do most of the above, you should buy the small plastic "trainer" potty, or even several - one for each bathroom and slowly introduce the idea.
Dr. Brenda Hussey-Gardner in her article Best Beginnings, suggests breaking up the process over several weeks or months. This is not a project you can hope to show your child one or two times and think they've got it.
Generally, you should let your child spot the trainer toilet and look at it when they're ready. Tell them what it is, what it's for and let them sit on it clothed several times a day to get comfortable. You should leave a small basket or container of toys, books or objects like stickers next to it to let them learn to stay busy when they actually try to use it later.
A week or so later, try letting them sit on the toilet with their diaper off several times a day. Be calm and matter-of-fact about it. If they have an accident or miss the potty, don't make an ugly face or say "yuck." Just say, "that's okay, let's try again later to get it in the potty." Your children need your kind, simple encouragement and no drama.
By the 3rd week, you can leave their diaper off for 5-10 minutes and let them wander around a limited area near the potty at the time when they often need to go. Only mention the potty a couple times, not every 5 minutes. With boys, you can even try giving them a paper cup in the bathtub to practice aiming or let them sit backwards on the toilet to hit the spot unless there's a spray guard. With a spray guard, be sure they're not getting scraped when they stand up.
Transition into training pants or underwear after a month or so, if things are going well. If your child is resistant to any of this, take a break and let them lead you back to the potty when they ask about it. Certainly congratulate them when they get the hang of it. Finally, ask your pediatrician if you run into any problems.
Good luck, and ask me in 6 months how we're surviving at my house!
monica malpass parenting reports, parenting, monica malpass
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