This is the last topic of the parenting series.
Thanks to my good friend who is in the stage of potty training her toddler and recommended I blog on the topic.
Every parent goes through this milestone at some stage in bringing up their toddlers. You might (gladly) notice that you have been changing less nappies lately and your little one is staying dry during nap time. There will be other signs as well (e.g. pulling at their nappy), other signs may be vocal (wanting to use the toilet), indicating it's time to delve into the world of potting training.
First, get a potty: Pick the right one that won't tip over when your child gets up to "have a look." As they get more used to it, they can move onto the type of potty that fixes onto the toilet, such as a stable one with a built in foot rest.
1. Age: In my opinion, there is no perfect age to start potty training as it is different for every child. I started potty training my children at two and a half years; some children are ready sooner than others. I would suggest that you look at the signs as you will know when your little one will be ready to start the process.
2. Dressing for potty training success: Dress your toddler in the right clothes e.g. pants that are easy to pull up and down without any fiddling. You can ask your little one to pull down his / her pants and then pull them back up again. Practice this very important pull - down movement to aid the process.
3. Showing them how to use the potty: Toddlers like to mimic other people so it is important to not only talk about how to squat, wipe down or flush, but to take them to the toilet and show them (only if you feel comfortable doing so). I was not shy to show my little ones the correct way of using the toilet and they were quick to copy!
4. Letting them bare their bottom: It's hard to ignore urinating when there is no nappy in place. Let them hang around with half their bottom bare (obviously in a private / safe place with washable floors). Remember to keep the potty nearby so your child can act quickly.
5. Positioning: Putting the potty in a place that is easily reached. Many children feel safer using a potty on the floor, rather than one that sits on top of the toilet.
6. Trying it out, be consistent: Let your toddler explore the potty and become familiar with it. Talk about the benefits of using the toilet, use positive phrases like "wearing pants is fun", "very soon, you will be using the toilet just like mummy and daddy" or "you will soon start flushing just like a big girl / boy". Avoid using negative words like "babyish", "smelly" or "yucky" these could lead to them resisting making further progress.
7. How often to sit on potty: You can start day one with 15 to 20 minutes (a timer can be useful to keep track of time if you wish). On the second day, you could extend it to 30 minutes. Third day, an hour. Sooner or later, the child would remember to go to the toilet without a timer!
8. Dryness: Teach them how to check for dryness. If you notice they have stayed dried for a while, congratulate them by saying "well done", give a pat on the back or a high five. This will enable them to be happy with themselves and stay in control. Affirmation always goes a long way. Avoid being critical when you notice that your toddler has wet themselves.
9. Be patient, stay motivated & watch closely: Every child is different so it may take them longer to master the act than other children; be patient! Even if you have to mop up after them. Over-reacting will discourage your little ones from using the potty independently. As parents, you can remind your toddlers that using a potty means growing up. Incentives are a good way to keep them going, e.g. stickers on the calendar. As they get older, you may need to stop using this type of incentive, it would be better for your toddler to make progress by themselves because they are self-motivated and not just to get a sticker :)
If the potty training process is not going as planned, parents could try alternative methods in the mean time.
Pull ups - do they really work?
When your child has just begun using the potty, you can play it safe by using disposable pull ups. Once your toddler has had a few successes on the potty, try switching back to using washable training pants.
Pull ups are very convenient but they may hinder and prolong 'wetting the bed'. From my experience & speaking to a few friends, when a child is potty trained but still wears a pull up at night, there may be a disincentive to progress further with potty training.
Be mindful that different methods work for different children, the key for me, was to be patient and consistent. Remember that all of our little ones differ and will reach this essential milestone in their own pace. It's all about waiting for the signs of readiness, setting the stage and starting whilst the excitement exists. Don't lose hope even though it may seem like an endless process. Don't deny them drinks either, some parents think that by doing so, it may reduce the chances of having an accident.
Those of you experienced parents that have gone through this process, what tips can you give? Share your thoughts and experiences.