Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Potty Training Basics

This month we’re talking about all things potty! Last week’s post covered some indicators for Potty Training Readiness.

While all children approach this milestone individually, the readiness indicators are some generally accepted hints and tip-offs to help families decide whether or not their little one is ready.

When you know that your little one is ready for a potty training adventure, there are some basics to consider that will help you be prepared and give you the confidence you need to feel that you’re starting off on the right foot.

Get Your Head in the Game

It’s important that, from the outset, you have a positive mindset when taking on the challenge of potty training. A sense of humor and a generous dose of patience will be some of your most important tools. Even when little ones are ready for the transition from diaper to toilet, it will be a process that takes time. There will be accidents, messes and possibly some setbacks. Start out with an open mind and a positive outlook.

Get the Gear

Decide beforehand whether you want to use a potty training chair or a toilet seat that sits on your regular toilet seat - some models come with both of these options.  Keep in mind that some children don’t like the idea of a potty that’s separate from what other family members use in the bathroom, while other toddlers feel insecure when their feet can’t touch the ground and this could interfere with their willingness to try peeing on the big toilet. Dumping the contents of dirty diapers into the potty or toilet is an effective practice for modeling what the toilet is used for.

A step stool for your little one to step up will be necessary if you go with the toilet seat option. A stool will also be needed for the very important new habit of washing hands after using the potty.

Taking your toddler along to pick out a special hand soap, (there are a number of varieties geared towards children), can be an effective way to start building excitement about potty training and will help to reinforce the lesson that hands are always washed after potty time.

New underwear is another little treat that your child can be involved with picking out as part of gearing up towards the Start Day.

Pick a Start Day

Pick a day to start the process and commit. Consider a day when you don’t need to leave the house and possibly leading into a weekend where you have very few plans. Dress your child in loose clothing that is easy to remove and dedicate the bulk of your day to starting potty training peacefully and positively!

Spend some time with your toddler in the bathroom where the potty is. Go over what the routine will be. Help your child to use simple potty terms and talk about what they mean.
Read a book about potty training. Consider alerting your child throughout the day when you are going to use the bathroom so he/she begins to understand that using the toilet is something everyone does. Schedule potty breaks during the day where your child can sit on the potty without a diaper, up to five minutes is plenty of time for these practice runs. Give a lot of praise for these efforts.

Watch and Go!

Be aware of the body language and posture changes that go along with the urge to use the potty. Most children will start to squirm, squat, hide, or hold their pants. When you notice these hints act quickly! Have the child stop what they’re doing and head for the potty. Offer praise for the times when your child informs you of the need to go and take the opportunity to help your child become familiar with these signals and what to do next.

Give a Gold Star

Some children are very motivated by incentives. Gold stars or a sticker on a reward chart can be very exciting! If your child is likely to respond well to a small reward or a fun activity consider using these tools in potty training.

Don’t Rush

You may find that your child is having some reasonable success with daytime potty training and is possibly even grasping when to use the potty for a bowel movement once in awhile, so night training might seem like the next logical step. Not so fast! Even when everything potty-related is working like a well oiled machine during the day, night training can be months and in some cases, years, after initial training success. Don’t be in a hurry and take it all in stride. If you’ve tried already and it hasn’t been successful, dial it back and wait for a while before trying again.

Try Again....Later

Part of potty training is recognizing the signs that your child is not ready. If your child is disinterested in spite of all of the new gear and incentives, he/she may not be ready. If a battle ensues  every time using the potty is suggested, your toddler isn’t ready. This is not failure. It’s just not time yet. Forcing the issue and creating negative memories and experiences will only hinder the process in the future. Call it off, take a break, and try again later.

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