Learning to go to the bathroom “all by yourself” is a huge milestone for any child to attain, one they each meet at their individual pace.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that toilet training a child takes a lot of patience, time and understanding. Most children do not become fully toilet trained until they are between 2 and 4 years of age.
With the right guidance and encouragement, your child will be able to go when they are developmentally ready, however, this timing does not necessarily coincide with our timetable or expectations. Every child eventually trains herself, and that is the secret to toilet training success.
Many parents can put an undo amount of stress on themselves and their child by setting a fixed age in their mind of when they want their child potty-trained. It is not necessary and oftentimes will create the reverse effect. Focus on making toilet time a fun learning experience and a bonding opportunity. Before you know it, you’ll be telling your grown child, “I used to change your diapers!”
Stay Tuned In
Children will often give us clues letting us know when they’re ready to start toilet training.
Can your child follow directions easily?
Does your child tell you when her diaper is dirty?
Are they curious about or want to sit on the toilet or potty chair?
Is your child’s diaper still dry after sleeping or after a nap?
These are signs that your child might be ready to start toilet training.
Are You Prepared?
Your child isn’t the only one that needs to be prepared to make this transition away from diapers. Toilet training will also change your daily schedule. Are YOU ready?
Be prepared to wash more laundry.
Purchase extra paper towels and other cleaning products to clean up any accident.
Starting on a weekend is the ideal schedule for working parents, so clear your calendar.
Most importantly, are you ready to muster extra patience and stay positive and encouraging?
If so, then you are also ready to potty train your child!
All jobs require the right tools. When you and your child are ready to start toilet training, here are some tools to help you succeed!
Super Fun Underwear!
When you’re ready to start toilet training, make a special date with your child to go shopping for underwear. Let your child pick the type of underwear they want and make it a really fun day! Buy extra, as you will want to make sure you have plenty on hand. This will enable you to keep extras in the bathroom, in the car, at grandma’s and in your purse so your child can change easily after an accident.
You might want to consider a potty chair that sits on the floor. Children seem to have a greater sense of security without an oversized toilet, giant steps going up and swirling, flushing water below. We give children little spoons, little beds, little cups and little books. Little potties just make sense!
Create a toilet routine. Make toilet time part of the everyday schedule. When you find that your child’s diaper is dry after a nap, start the routine of heading to the bathroom as soon as your child wakes up. Your child will have a better chance of success when their bladder is full right after waking.
It’s no secret that children love stickers. Try keeping a sticker chart and let your child add a sticker every time they have any success. When the stickers add up, give your child a treat - a book, a snack or special time with you.
And remember, accidents happen!
Major life events, such as a new sibling or a new school, can cause anxiety in children. This anxiety can be expressed physically instead of verbally. That’s normal. Your child may not know how to tell their new teacher they need to go to the bathroom or is too embarrassed to say anything. Talk to the teacher and ask them to check in with your child to let them know that they are there to support them.
Also, many children who have accidents are just so involved in playing and learning that they forget to go to the bathroom. Remind your child every hour while they are training and continue reminding them until they are in full control. If your child is doing the so-called “pee-pee dance” or is unable to talk without wiggling, it may be time for a visit. Don’t waste any time asking your child, just grab their hand, sing “It’s time to read the potty book!” and head straight to the bathroom.
Setback Before Success
Finally, if your child seems frustrated or upset by their toilet training efforts, there is no harm in hitting the “Pause” button and switching back to diapers. It doesn’t confuse your child if you stop and start again. Sometimes a few months or even just a few weeks can make the learning process happen almost effortlessly overnight.
Most importantly, just relax! And remember: Children don’t go to college in diapers!