This is one of the many wonders of parents. Potty training is not only viewed as a myth but it is also cause of concerns and many many questions.
There are things that work and things that do not, at the end all children are unique and their learning capacity varies from child to child. Even twin sibling will potty train differently. I have witnessed, trained and assisted with potty training for over 12 years to children of my own, relatives, mini clients of different ages and stages and this is what I have learned in this journey.
- If your child is not fully potty trained by the time a new baby comes home there is a great chance that your toddler will regress.
- Let you child learn on his own, he will probably cooperate better by the time kindergarten comes since he will not be comfortable seen in diapers at school.
- If you want to potty train effectively you have to lock yourself indoors for a few days and keep taking your toddler to the potty many times throughout the day.
- Have your child sit on the potty until something happens, even if it means sitting for long periods of time.
- The only time a child will regress during potty training is when you stop potty training or the consistency changes. if the distraction of a new baby and the time consumed by caring for the baby takes the parent attention away from the potty training routine of their older child I can see how the child could regress, but not because of the baby, because of the shift in attention to the matter in hand.
- By the time children are 4 years old and still wear diapers there is a great chance that they have grown accustomed to being changed and cared for when it comes to their bodily functions. They probably can understand the concept faster but if being changed and wear diapers have become a habit it will take some time to change the habit. Also at this age children weight too much to be picked up and placed on changing tables plus this is the age when they start to understand privacy and learn potty routines on their own.
- Staying indoors for long periods of time is more harmful than beneficial. At first you have to establish a routine for potty training, once established this routine can easily be interrupted momentarily to go to the playground, store, long car trips, etc. Once back at home you will continue with the training and occasional diapers won’t interrupt anything. Your child has to see potty learning as part of life, not a punishment.
- Sitting for a long time is torture for your child and yourself. This method will only make your child hate or be afraid of the potty.
Now that we got that out of the way these are my tips on potty training effectively:
- Potty: you are better off getting a portable potty and a potty seat that goes on top of your toilet. Some children like to sit on the potty seats and others like to be high on the real thing. You won’t know until you try it.
- Pull-up diapers: Try to get the ones that open on the sides, the ones that go up and down and doesn’t open will have you lay your child down every time there is an accident and you have to change the pull up, this means if he/she is wearing tights, pants, etc you have to take everything off when you have to put a new pull up on.
- Underpants: Hold off on this at the beginning, ok if you are so excited and those 2t-3t undies tempted you so much go ahead but do not put them on your child just yet. Regardless of how much your baby loves Dora the explorer she will have several accidents in the undies at first, beloved characters only help to build excitement on this new venture, you can get their favorite character on the pull ups.
- Routine: Establish a routine. A good way to start is to take your child potty every 30 minutes. Just say “let’s try potty now” and have your child sit for 5 minutes, stay with him/her at first and see if something happens, if not put your timer on for another 30 minutes and try again. If you know your child has a bowel movement right after a meal or if your child like to hide and squat when having a bowel movement then that is a good time to sit in the potty. Eventually by coincidence it will happen and when it does make sure you praise and celebrate the accomplishment. Boys often release urine as soon as their feet feel the warm water of the bath tub, that is a good time to grab the potty and bring it to your boy in a effort to try to show them where pee-pee is supposed to go.
- Stick to it: consistency is the key to success. Potty training will feel as a new game to your child and as all games go they will think that this will eventually end. If you start and then go away on vacation, or away for the weekend, etc and this training is put on hold your toddler will most likely take this as the end of the game. The longer you pause the training the more reluctant your child will be to continue with potty training. This when potty training starts off well and then something comes up and the child refuses to pick up where they left off and it feels as if they regressed or just “did not work”. Parents often excuse themselves by saying their toddlers are too young or not ready, too much going on, etc. Remember to break a habit is a lot easier than to make a habit.
- Goals: Set realistic goals, for some children potty training might take a few weeks and for others it can take months. To be realistic you can give yourself and your child a year in which you do not expect much the first months but gradually start to experiment training without the assistance of pull ups or diapers.
- Best time: I can recommend to start potty training as young as 2 years of age, but if you want to give your toddler some room to mature 2.5 years of age is ideal. By the time they are 3 years old potty should be finished, just keep in mind that accidents can happen even to older children that have been trained for years.
If taken seriously potty training can be achieved quickly and painless. Let me know if you have other tips that can be added to the list. I hope this helps. Good luck!