Potty training or toilet training is the process of training someone, particularly a small child to use the toilet for defecation or urination. There comes a certain phase in every parent’s life that will involve potty training, love it or hate it, this is a fact of life. As a mother I can tell you that no one is an expert in this area, I can also tell you that no child will be going to the university in diapers. In this post I will give you my potty training tips along with a few other tips from fellow parents.
Do not force;
This unfortunately is a hard and disappointing fact for some parents, and this happens VERY often in preschool. Parents will want their child potty trained to move them up to the next class, to save on school fees, save on diapers, to get them into school, to fit in with the rest of the kids his age etc.
Let’s be honest, nobody loves buying and changing diapers (I hate it!). However, if you attempt to potty train a child who isn’t ready it will be a LONG and frustrating road for you and your child. Your child will let you know when he/she is ready. And please be reminded that readiness isn’t something that is determined by age. Some children will be ready at 18 months and some at 3 years, my little girl became ready at 12 months. Just as each child will learn to crawl, walk and read at their own pace they will also be potty trained when ready. It is our job to catch those signs of readiness and act upon them.
Signs of readiness?
Independence, is the first sign of readiness. If your child is beginning to dress himself, wash his hands and help clean up then it is a sign of independence. My daughter gets down from the bed and squats at the foot of the bed and urinates, after which she climbs back on, even with her diapers on!.
Another sign is dry periods. If your child wakes up from her nap dry or goes a few hours and has a dry diaper it is a sign of strengthening bladder control. Not wanting to be dirty and noticing the feeling of a dirty diaper is a strong sign of readiness and a good opportunity to gain vocabulary skills to help the child communicate potty words. I believe that verbal skills also need to be present. The child needs to be able to express when they have to go potty or that they are going potty. I use the ‘wee wee’ word for my daughter, and make the hiss sound when I want her to urinate.
The final and possibly most telling sign is when a child will hide or even go into the bathroom to go poop in his diaper. This shows an awareness of what is going on and a need for privacy.
Potty training needs to be a team effort and something that all parties (parents, caregivers, Pre-school teachers) involved are totally prepared for. If your child attends preschool or day-care you need to communicate with the teacher that you plan to begin potty training and work as a team with the teacher to come up with a plan. In my daughter’s crèche, there are different potties for male and female children, and her caregivers take turns in letting them use it.
Get your house, your car and yourself ready. Set up a designated potty area for consistency, keep your baby’s potty where she can always see and access it. I leave mine in front of the bathroom. Ensure you always have a watch, timer or clock to keep track of the last time he went potty.
Potty training will be frustrating and it WILL NOT happen overnight! Mrs Uche a mother of 4 and teacher said “potty training my children was the hardest part of parenting so far. I always felt I was not doing well enough!” This is so true but trust me you are not alone and this too shall pass! If your child feels rushed or belittled he will regress or rebel all together. A teacher told me that it is ok to take a break and try at a later time to save my sanity and that of my family members.
A great way to start potty training is to stay home all weekend and set up an area that you will spend most of your time. Spread a mat if you don’t have hard floors. When I was potty training I put the potty chair in front of the bathroom and let my child stay bottomless for the entire weekend.
This is extremely important that you teach your child to wipe themselves and wash their hands themselves. As parents it is vital that we teach our children independent skills. To teach a child to wipe you show the child by placing your hand on his and talk about what you are doing while you are modelling it. The next time you allow them to do it while you supervise. Encourage them to keep wiping on a clean part of the paper until their paper comes out clean. Also, tell them to wipe from front to back.
Make it fun:
You can reward but not too much. You want your child to be proud and learn without too many rewards.
More importantly, just be positive, encouraging and excited! This is a huge step for your child and it deserves to be praised.
There you have it, potty training 101. Moms, Dads, teachers, how did you go about potty training your children? Share your challenges and successes in the comment section.