Potty Training: It’s All in the Timing

Potty training can be daunting for even the most confident parent. Many parents wonder at some point if their child will go off to kindergarten wearing diapers. The good news is that they most likely will be trained very easily as long as the time is right. If you follow a few simple guidelines to determine if your child is ready you are already halfway there.

A big mistake some parents make is comparing their child’s development to that of the neighbors or other family members. Each child is different and will be ready to potty train on their own schedule. If they are three years of age and not trained there is no reason to panic. They will do it when they are ready. It is important to know that a child in the midst of a family upheaval such as moving or the birth of another child will not train well even if they show signs of readiness. Wait until the dust settles before proceeding.

If you push a child into potty training before they are ready you will only end up frustrated. Never push them if they are showing resistance or disinterest. If your child has dry diapers for long periods of time and have a bowel movement at the same time each day they may be ready to begin. A child should be able to remove their clothing on their own and they may be letting you know when they are going in their diaper.

Introduce the potty in a calm manner. All aspects of potty training should be treated calmly and positively. If your child senses tension or frustration from you they may resist and view using the potty as a negative. You can choose a free standing potty-chair or an attachable seat that fits over the top of your toilet. If you chose the attachable seat it is also a good idea to invest in a sturdy stool for them. This will help them climb up to the toilet and will also give them somewhere to rest their feet. This will help them feel most secure on the toilet.

Introduce your child to the world of potty training through books or discussions. There are many great books available that explain to the child what using the potty is all about. Ask them if they would like to use the potty like Mommy and Daddy do. If they child feels they have made the choice to potty train on their own they feel in control of the situation.

When they let you know they are ready take a trip to the store with your child. Explain that if they are going to use the potty they will need underwear. Allow them to choose the underwear they wish to use. If they choose characters like the Wiggles, Dora or Spongebob let them get them. They are less likely to want to get their favorite characters dirty. When you get home have the child help you throw out the diapers. Explain that from now on they will be wearing big kids underwear and that they diapers are now gone.

Pull-ups have become a common sight on store shelves but many do not recommend using them. They may save you from cleaning up a few messes but they can delay the process of potty training. The best successes come when a child can feel the wetness against their skin when they have an accident. This will make them uncomfortable and will reinforce the need to use the toilet.

You can begin by getting your child on the toilet every twenty minutes. Give them plenty of juices and vegetables as part of their diet. This will help keep the bowel movements soft. One painful bowel movement in the early stages of potty training can scare a child away from the toilet. They may associate the pain with using the potty. Look for signs that they may have to go. Wriggling, squirming or holding themselves are usually signs that they need to go to the bathroom. When your child has an accident remember to remain calm and do not chastise them. Let them know that everyone makes mistakes and it’s ok. Then let them know you are sure they will make it to the potty the next time. Never say or do anything to make them feel ashamed or punished.

The first time they successfully use the potty make a huge deal out of it. Throw a potty party! Serve cookies or offer them something they like. The more excited and happy you seem the more likely they will want to please you by doing it again. This is especially important the first time they have a bowel movement on the toilet. Children sometimes think they are losing a part of themselves when this happens. If your child seems particularly disturbed by this make up a great place where the bowel movements may be going once they are flushed. You may feel a little silly but your child will feel a million times better and will be more likely to do it again the next day. If you are training a boy to use the toilet you can use something that floats in the bowl. They should be encouraged to hit the target. Make sure you use something that will easily by handled by your septic system. Cheerios or Fruit Loops are a popular choice.

Be prepared for accidents and even set backs. If you feel you child isn’t making any progress you may have to give up until another time. If you remain positive and offer encouragement you will find your little one eager to please you. You may be surprised how fast they are trained. Instead of worrying about them wearing diapers to kindergarten you can begin to enjoy being diaper-free.

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