Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Potty Training Pitfalls

This month’s posts have been centered on Potty Training. We’ve taken a look at signs of readiness, as well as some tried and tested basics on how to get started on the right foot. The third post in this series is going to cover some of the common pitfalls that can happen once you make the decision to start potty training.

You’re in the midst of a big life change.

Many parenting experts site the addition of a sibling as one of the biggest transitions a toddler can go through. If you are also attempting to potty train, your timing may work against you. It’s even tempting to try to ‘get the training out of the way’, in an attempt to have a toddler who is diaper-free by the time baby arrives. You may have success initially in the months leading up to baby’s arrival. However, it is common for the older toddler/preschooler to revert and regress once the title of ‘big brother/sister’ is bestowed upon them. Children are temporarily displaced physically and emotionally when a new baby comes into the home so be patient and consider potty training another time. Other big life changes can include, but are not limited to, moving, starting daycare, divorce, a loss or an illness.

Your patience is wearing thin.

In the adventure of potty training there can be ups and downs, hits and misses, and successes and frustrations. A child can seem to really grasp the concept of toileting and then seemingly out of nowhere start having accidents or battling the exercise of using the potty. Transitioning from diaper to potty can represent transitioning from baby to ‘big-kid’ for some children. While this milestone is anticipated by some, others don’t want to relinquish their role in the house as #1 baby. It’s tough. Although it may seem annoying or indulgent on your part, the truth is, if they’re not emotionally ready it doesn’t matter if they CAN do it...they’re likely not going to. Your best option is to back off for awhile, act nonchalant and wait until your child shows some interest again. It is important in the midst of this challenge that shaming or discouraging comments are avoided. Your child needs you to be the cheerleader! Save the arguments for things later in life...like homework and curfews.

Consistency is missing.

Unlearning the habit of diaper use and acquiring the skill of using the toilet is a really big deal and a really big effort for a toddler. It’s all new. Consistency, repetition and patience are all necessary. Everyone involved in the care of your training toddler needs to be on board with your method and plan. Your routine around potty training needs to look as close to the same everyday as possible. If you are in a season where you are running here, there and everywhere, with your training child in tow, and one day to the next really has no recognizable routine, potty training may end up being very frustrating for everyone involved.

The pressure is on.

It’s always important to keep in mind that there are aspects of potty training that can be legitimately upsetting to a child that we aren’t aware of. If your child isn’t responding well to training and all other indicators seem to point towards the idea that he/she should be ready, be careful not to be the pressure button. If an adaptor seat is being used on the ‘big toilet’, the sound of the bowel movement splashing the water can be scary, as well as the flush. Children can also be very uncomfortable not being able to touch the floor when they’re trying to use the toilet. Putting pressure on, when there is resistance, will usually backfire. Children who are uncomfortable or not ready can end up holding their bowel movements to avoid the potty. This behavior can result in constipation problems that will set you back even further. Make sure that all questions coming from your toddler are met with openness. Make potty training and the routines around it, a common, flowing conversation in your life for this season. Alert your child when you are going to use the bathroom to show that toilet use is a common exercise that everyone does.

If your child is not ready, or not responding, it’s important to take the pressure off of yourself as well! You are not a failure because your child didn’t train in a 24-hour period! Arm yourself with the knowledge and awareness that potty training is a process, not an event. It takes time and patience and many times, multiple attempts. You’ll both get there!

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