Potty training : Part 1

by - 01:23

We started potty training my youngest daughter just before Christmas. I was perhaps a little naive in thinking that she would potty train just as fast as my eldest did. She took 3 days. My youngest however took longer, around 4 weeks, but I think part of this was a few mistakes I may have made. I wanted to put together some top tips I found helped and also a few how to guides.

I have split Potty training into 3 posts. The first, this post, includes my top tips and a how to. Part 2 will be focusing more on night time and part 3 will be looking at the equipment I would recommend and why. I hope you find these guides useful, they are by no means the only way or the most perfect, but they are my account of what has worked for me with the two girls.

Top Tips

1. The right age
Recently I remember reading in the news a story of a girl who had been potty trained from only a few months old. Her parents apparently picked up on her cues and would then sit her on the potty. I know of others whose approach is baby lead. They don't use nappies and again from a young age pick up on children's cues. This is great if you have the time and ability and patience to do this,but it would not work for me. I personally don't think there is a right age, but I do think there is a window of opportunity which presents itself between the age of 15 months and 3 years old. I also know from speaking to parents that missing this window, makes potty training very difficult. Too early and the child does not grasp the concept, things become stressed and it is not a pleasant experience, too late and it becomes difficult to break the habit the child has become used to the convenience of nappies.

2. The signs
Both my girls began showing signs they were ready for potty training. The first was that they could communicate with me. An important point as they need to be able to tell you they need to go, or to answer the question if asked if they need to go. They both were able to pull their trousers/skirt off. They would often tug at their trousers to tell me they had done a wee. Not every nappy was a dirty nappy. I would have times when I would go to change my daughters nappy, after an hour or two and it would be dry. This would show me they had the ability to control their bladder. Showing an interest in the potty/toilet is another good sign. Sometimes, as was the case with my youngest, she would show all the above signs but she physically was not quite ready. You would know this by starting potty training and after a week there has been no progress and every day the child has at least 4 accidents. There is then no harm in stopping and waiting a few weeks before trying again.

3. Make it fun
Lets be honest given the choice to you think a child would prefer to be playing with toys and use the convenience of a nappy or stop what they are doing to go to the potty? It therefore needs to be fun. We bought a potty a week or so before training began. I gave my daughter some stickers and let her decorate her potty. This made it hers. We sat dolly and teddy on the potty. We spoke about it and it became part of her routine. If she sat on it she got praised for doing so, this was all before potty training, so it became to her a fun place to be. When potty training does begin continue to make it fun, we have high fives for sitting on the potty and we even sing a little song we made up.

4. Praise
We made up a song for when they do a wee or a poo in the potty. We sing the song, the girls get lots of hugs kisses and big cheers. Make them feel really proud that they have done what was needed. Likewise if they sit on but do nothing, still praise the effort. Acknowledge the fact they have had a go. Think of it like when your baby was learning to walk. Whenever they stood up you would encourage them to take a baby step forward and praise every step whether it was 1 step or 10. Eventually your child's confidence grew and they began taking more and more steps.

5. Never shout, or scold or look disgusted
Accidents will happen. There is no getting around this, they will happen. Don't make a big deal of it. Turning nose up, pulling funny faces, looking disgusted or shouting will all discourage your child from wanting to potty train and it will make the process harder and longer. Stock up on paper towels and stick to one room. Even better if possible take the potty outside and potty train outside.

6. Have lots of potties
Sounds a little silly but if there is always a potty near where your child is, the more success you will have. Why? Well your child does not yet have the ability to hold onto their wee or poo and you are training this. Therefore minimise the time it takes from your child informing you they need to go, to the potty. By always having one within grabbing distance the time is greatly reduced. Your child then grasps the concept of where to go and you will also find the time between realising they need to go, to going increases.

7. Reward
In addition to praise provide a reward for going to the potty.  We had a simple, 1 sweet for a wee, a chocolate coin for a poo and a box of raisins for 'having a go'.  [My daughter likes raisins so it was a treat for her].  Alternatively there are reward charts and stickers, it is down to the individual child.

8.Be consistent
One of the reasons it took so long with my youngest was I was not consistent.  I would start training and then we would need to go on a long journey.  I would therefore put my youngest in a nappy, so she because lazy or used to the nappy convenience, then we we got to our destination I switched back to pants.  This inconsistency I believe caused her to think that the nappies were coming back and therefore not to try.  It is therefore important to be consistent.  Once started in pants stay with them.  Explain that nappies are for sleep time only.  If after a week there is no improvement then maybe considering going back to nappies for a while and taking a break from training.

Overall enjoy it and go with it.  Go at the pace of your little one and help then with this new phase of their life.

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