Humorous Quick Reads About Families With Kids

Top 5 Things to Remember When Potty Training

Published July 25, 2019 in Potty Training - 1 Comment

Potty Training GirlTeaching your child to use the bathroom can be a daunting task. I’ve spent the last ten months potty training my grandson, and we are just now seeing consistent success.

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No one likes to change diapers, but it does make life easier when your little one wears a portable containment vessel and you don’t have to worry about leaks (usually). But once you put a toddler in underwear, the stress begins.

Will he remember to use the toilet? Does a trip to the store mean hearing, “cleanup on aisle 4”? Will you have to pull over at the nearest public toilet whenever he gets an uncontrollable urge? Can your child enter first grade if he is still in diapers?

A small percentage of children will initiate using the toilet and seemingly train themselves. Most kids, however, require a concerted effort by a parent or caregiver. Experts disagree about the perfect time to introduce toileting.

A general rule of thumb is: On the early end, don’t start before 18 months and on the late end, if your child isn’t trained by five, seek professional help.

No matter what age you begin teaching your child, here are some tips that make the process a little easier.

  1. Choose the Right Equipment

Pick the type of potty to use based on your child’s age. An eighteen-month old, will do better with a free standing potty that is low to the ground.

A mini-potty is convenient for the child. She doesn’t need any steps or ladders to reach it. She can walk up to the floor potty and use it without assistance.

A small toilet has another advantage. It is mobile and you can move it to any room. You can place the toilet in the den where your child has his toys and you can monitor his activity.

Or, you can put it where you spend most of your time, say the office or the kitchen. Wherever you put it, just make sure your child knows the location when potty time comes.

If your child is older when you commence lessons, an over-the-toilet seat may work. For my own children, I used an all-in-one potty seat and step stool.

The ladder was built in and there were handles on the side to help them get in place. Because it was all one piece, it was more stable. They were less likely to fall off on their way up or down.

Now that my grandson has come along, his mom purchased a potty seat with his favorite characters (Paw Patrol, of course) printed on the cushion.

When he’s ready to do his business, he picks it up off the floor and puts it over the adult-sized seat. He then climbs onto the toilet using the step stool I bought to go along with it.

The big advantage to the adult toilet adaptors is that you don’t have to dump out urine or feces (Eww!) from a little potty into the big one.

I know that toilet training brings plenty of close contact with miniature waste products. I just prefer to avoid the clear-my-sinuses smell of a big surprise forgotten in the little potty.

Still, I concede that the shortest line to a little one breaking the diaper habit is a kid-sized potty.

  1. Encourage Your Child

Set yourself up for success by encouraging your child to drink a lot of water at the beginning of potty training. The more she drinks, the more opportunities she has to empty her bladder in the correct place.

You can even increase the liquid intake by offering her salty snacks like chips and crackers. The salt will increase her thirst and she’ll crave water even more.

Once you’ve gotten her started drinking regularly, encourage her to go to the bathroom every thirty minutes. Sit her on the potty and encourage her to produce something.

With my grandson, I set a timer for every half hour. He learned that the ding meant it was time for another potty attempt.

In between rings, we played in the kitchen (over tile) or sat at vinyl chairs at the table and assembled a puzzle. With a high water intake, he had a lot of successes the first day.

Most important, when your child succeeds, praise her! I cheered my grandson’s every accomplishment. I treated him with his flavor choice of jellybean. (Note: Not everyone recommends treats, but that’s another blog post.)

I then escorted him to my husband’s home office and let Pa Paw exclaim over his triumph also. Lastly, when Mom came to fetch him that afternoon, she gloried in her accomplished child.

We made sure that he was in no doubt when he had been successful.

  1. Be Consistent

Potty training is not for the faint hearted. You must be steely in your determination. Choose a time to start, throw away the disposable pants (except at night, perhaps), and never look back.

Despite the opinion I expressed in my last blog, the Travails of Cloth Training Pants, I now believe it’s best to stay with big kid underwear once you have started.

Consistency is key. After the initial days of concentrated training, don’t forget to send your child to the toilet regularly: every thirty minutes for the first few days.

A potty watch can come in handy for reminding your child to go regularly. Next step, send them every hour for a couple of weeks.

When they are more in the habit of going regularly, send them after every meal and before outings until the child is completely self-initiating.

It’s very tempting to concentrate on teaching for a few days and then let it slip into the background. Don’t lose your focus.

Your efforts every hour for a month will reward you with a quicker learner and a shorter training time.

  1. Expect Accidents

No one is perfect: neither your child nor you. Plan for mishaps. Use this time to explain to your child why we use the potty. Encourage him to do better next time.

Keep a bucket of soapy water in the bathroom for rinsing solids out of soiled pants. Or just swish them out directly in the toilet. (I spent a lot of time here because my grandson learned to do #1 in the potty months ahead of learning to do #2 in the proper place.)

When putting dirty underwear in the wash, use soap, hot water, and a little bleach for sanitizing.

Don’t forget to carry a bag when you go out that contains wipes, clean clothes, fresh underwear, and bags for the messy remains.

  1. Remember Who is in Charge

Ultimately your child will be responsible for his own bathroom business, but in the meantime, you are the one conducting the training.

Remember when you send the child to the potty, it is a command, not an option. I found that if I asked my grandson is he needed to potty, the answer was always no. Then 20 minutes later, I discovered a puddle on the floor or a deposit in his pants.

I began telling the grand boy to go to the potty and if he really, really didn’t need to go, he would let me know. If I was in doubt, I told him to sit on the potty anyway.

I usually only required him to sit for two minutes. Longer times seemed to back fire. He would hold it while on the potty and release a short time later.

Don’t be rigid with your child. Take into account his food and beverage intake for the day and his activity level.

But in the end, you have much more experience with the toilet than he does. Insist that he make an effort when you think it’s time.

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