As parents, we are all quite familiar with the telltale signs when your child is ready for potty training - squirming, squatting, pacing around and even holding their genital area. This moment is what parents often dream about, the day to no longer be changing diapers.
However, could a parent’s eagerness lead this process rather than having a child motivated in this major milestone? How would you know if your child is really ready to be potty trained? Here are some questions to consider when assessing to determine if your child is interested in using the toilet.
Is your child able to......
- walk to and sit on a toilet?
- pull up and down their pants?
- stay dry for up to two hours?
- understand and follow basic directions?
- communicate when they need to go?
- display interest in the bathroom and what people do in it?
- know what wet and dry mean?
If your child shows most of these behaviors, it's definitely time to start potty training. If you answer mostly no, it would be best to wait, rushing thru this stage when your child is not ready can further delay this, making the transition longer and much more difficult for the both of you. A word of caution, never attempt potty training during a time of stress or before going on vacation for example. You can't force this milestone in or your child will feel stressed, as this will only delay the process further rather than speeding it up. It will happen, just give it time.
Here are some tips for commencing potty training with your child:
- Introduce the potty chair to your child. Encourage your child to explore it and become familiar with it by starting out with having them sit on it with their diaper on. Commence with putting it in a place for ease of access, so that your child can explore it when they want too. Use positive and simple term for the toilet and let them know it's special and just for them. Be sure to offer encouragement and give lots of praise even when they exhibit interest in wanting to explore the potty.
- Schedule potty time. Have your child sit on the potty without their diaper every few hours, also first thing in the morning and after getting up from naps. Even if they sit there, offer praise for trying and remind them they can try again later.
- Signs of readiness. Look for signs when you child squats, paces or holds their genital area – its time to respond quickly. Stop what your child is doing and head to the bathroom. This will help them become familiar with these signals. Regardless if your child tells you or not, be sure to praise them.
Hygiene. Teach your child to wash their hands after using the potty, even if they don’t do anything.
- I'm a big kid! it's time for Potty pants! After a few weeks of successfully being dry and going to the potty, your child is ready to transition from diapers to potty training pants. Be sure to celebrate this transition. You might want to use a rewards chart that your child receives a sticker for each day they were successful for using the potty.
However, if you see that after a few weeks that your child is not getting the hang of it or resisting using the potty - take a break and return after a couple of months. Chances are they are not ready and pushing them will prove to be quite frustrating.
Remember accidents will happen – it's best to just stay calm. Don’t scold, discipline or shame your child. Potty training doesn't come without bumps, so don't underestimate the process. In the event of an accident, be sure to keep a change of clothing if away from home.
If you have questions about potty training or your child is having difficulties, talk with your family doctor, as they can give you guidance and check to see if there are any underlying problems that need to be addressed.
The key to success is about waiting for signs of readiness in your child and being consistent and before long you will be rid of those diapers for good!