Many parents are unsure about when to start potty training. In order for potty training to be successful and relatively painless, a child needs to show interest in using the bathroom. Not all kids are ready at the same age, so it’s important to watch your child for signs of readiness such as hiding behind a couch to poop in their pull-ups, stopping an activity for a few seconds or clutching his or her diaper.
Potty training involves putting together a set of individual skills in a certain order, such as being able to interpret the signals your body is giving you, undressing, having some control over your bowels and bladder, and washing your hands. It is ideal for a child to have at mastered some of these skills before starting potty training to avoid frustration for both parties and making the process take longer.
Your readiness as a parent to start potty training your child is important, but allow your child’s motivation, instead of your eagerness, lead the process. Try not to equate potty training success or difficulty with your child’s intelligence or stubbornness. Also, keep in mind that accidents are inevitable.
Disposable training pants are a helpful step between diapers and underwear. Some parents like using training pants at night because children’s’ nighttime bladder and bowel control often lags behind their daytime control. Some parents prefer that their child use training pants when they are out and about. Once the training pants remain dry for a few days, children can make the switch to wearing underwear. The important thing for parents to remember is to stay calm. The more uptight a parent gets, the more a child could become resistant to potty training. The trick is to stay positive, stick with the plan, and keep the child in underwear.
Parents must avoid any negativity, punishments, shaming, or pushing throughout the potty training journey. Give the child gentle reminders to go every couple of hours instead of relying on them to trust their bodily cues. In the beginning, watch for visual cues – squirming, holding their legs tight, walking slowly on tiptoes with their knees together, etc. As soon as you notice that they might be holding it in, pick them up and take them directly to the potty seat. Keeping them, well hydrated helps reinforce the idea of peeing in the toilet. If your child is constantly wetting himself or not taking to the potty with ease, give yourself permission to take a break and try again in a few weeks.
Potty training should be thought of as just another skill you are helping your child learn. If you show anger or disappointment when it’s not going well, or overwhelming joy when it is, it lets your child know this is something you want him to do badly. Refusing to do it becomes a very powerful way for your child to feel in control. The more emotional you are, the more it shows your child how much it matters to you that he use the potty.
Finding a toilet training method that works for your family is the key. No matter how you do it, remember this is a learning process that takes time, with many accidents along the way. Staying attuned to the needs of your child and being patient is the best way you can support your child as she learns.
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