As simple as it may sound, potty training can be an intimidating task for parents. For starters there is a wealth of information on the subject floating around, how do you even begin to sift through it all and separate the good advice from the absurd? In fact, how do you even know if your toddler is ready for potty training? What potty training device should you be using? How do you even begin to teach your child to be potty trained? Who, what, where, when, why…HOW?
Okay, relax. Take a deep breath. Potty training can be easy. You just need to know where to start.
Is your child ready?
Before you begin potty training your child, it is important to understand that, although some children may grasp it rather quickly, it could take up to several months for your child to get it. Be patient. Even though the idea of not having to change dirty nappies again may seem appealing, don’t rush or pressurize your child.
There is no set age for when a toddler will be ready for potty training, however, many parents start when their child is around two years. You will know when your child is ready because he or she will start to show independence and will also have some form of understanding of what it means to go to the bathroom like an adult. There are also certain signs that will indicate that your child is ready for potty training. For example, your child will be able to understand and follow basic instructions and will be able to engage in one activity for several minutes without being distracted. In addition to this, your child can recognize and indicate if he has soiled his nappy and will also be able to pull his pants up and down. Your child will also demonstrate a will to want to learn and genuine interest in ‘the potty’.
Remember that age is not the important factor when it comes to potty training. The most important thing is that your child is emotionally and physically ready to learn.
Before you get started with potty training, it’s important to decide what key products you will be using such as a potty or toilet training seat, training pants and clothes etc. There is no miracle product out there that will have your child potty trained in three days however certain products do help as encouragement and motivational tools.
Get your child involved in the decision making. Let him come along and help in some of the decision making, such as which potty to buy. Doing this will already develop a positive link for your child when it comes to potty training. Also, having a say may increase your child’s will to learn. You can even take it a step further and make the entire act more fun. Go to your nearest arts and crafts store and get some stickers, glitter pens, coloured markers and, if you are brave, even some non-toxic paints. Let your child express his creative side and decorate his potty. What better way to keep your child interested in potty training than to let his inner Picasso come out?
Essentials aside, if you have been shopping for potty training gear you may have found yourself overwhelmed by all the little extra training tools that are available. There are literally dozens of additional items that could turn the entire thing into a fun event. Yes, that’s right – you can actually make potty training a fun activity. You can choose from hundreds of little extras ranging from wee targets (to help boys wee straight) to reward charts, toilet training games and activities, toilet crackers to feed the toilet before or after going, potty training books, stencils and even night lights for the toilet. At the end of the day, you will need to decide what works best for your child. But it does not hurt to experiment a bit. You may find that a little something extra goes a long way in keeping your child engaged while learning.
You can prepare your child for potty training even before you begin teaching the basics. You can try familiarise your child with a potty by allowing him or her to sit on one, fully clothed. It is a good idea to make this a routine activity as it will get your child used to the potty and also accept it as a daily routine activity. Do not force your child to sit on the potty, and allow freedom for him to leave if he feels scared. The idea is to just familiarize your child with the potty. You need not worry about explaining what it is used for as of yet. Just let your child become comfortable with the device. Once this is achieved, you can get your child to sit on the potty without a nappy or pants. Again, allow him time to feel comfortable doing this before you progress any further. At this point you can begin to explain the idea behind ‘going to the potty’. Explain to him how the potty is used by emptying out a used diaper into the potty, then transfer it to a toilet and allow him to flush.
The next step
Once your child is comfortable with the idea of sitting on a potty and understands the reasons behind this, you can start to teach him to go to the bathroom. Encourage your child to use the potty whenever he wants ‘to go’. If your child signals to you the need to go to the bathroom, place him on the potty. Always be sure not to force your child and to stop if he seems scared. Keep your child in loose, easy-to-remove pants and avoid clothing that may be difficult to remove. This includes pants that may have lots of buttons or zips or that may be tight or restrictive, or oversized shirts that may come in the way during potty training. Be sure to praise your child when he uses the potty, but refrain from expressing disappointment if he does not.
Some interesting tidbits
You will find that, after a couple of months, your child will grasp this concept and will make regular use of the potty. Congratulations are in order as you are succeeding in potty training your child. Remember, once potty trained, it is still likely that your child will have the occasional accident. It’s important to respond calmly to the situation and not to punish your child or to express anger or annoyance. Instead, use the incident as an opportunity to suggest to your child to use the potty next time.
As you start to embrace this new chapter of your life with your child, sans the nappies, here are a couple of fun tidbits to keep you informed:
– According to statistics, the age for potty training has increased quite a bit over the years. It has been claimed that, in the 1940s, the average age for potty training was 18 months. However, it is reported that toddlers nowadays are potty trained closer to the time that they reach three years.
– According to medical experts most toddlers will urinate between four to eight times a day and will experience one or two bowel movements each day. However it is not uncommon for a child to have up to three bowel movements or to skip a day or two in between movements.
– It has been said that, during the seventeenth century, it was believed that urine had disinfecting qualities. It was not uncommon for moms to simply lay the urine soaked diaper in front of a fire.
– It has been estimated that a child can wear up to about 6 000 nappies before potty training
– For the eco friendly moms, there are now several alternatives to normal disposable diapers including organic diapers that are biodegradable and contain no bleach or other chemicals that may harm the baby’s skin.
– If reports are to be believed, the first disposable diaper was nothing more than a plastic shower curtain that was cut to size and stuffed with absorbent materials. This was the brainchild of Marion Donovan, who created the first disposable nappy in an act of desperation.