Potty Training Tip - Start Young
By Rachel Rainbolt
Potty train your children young! I always recommend a potty seat for their first birthday. At 12 months they are excited about walking and using the potty seat provides a great opportunity to exercise this exciting skill. At this stage of social development they are fascinated by all that you big people do and are psyched to get to participate in the potty time rituals and behaviors with you. Once your child hits 2 their psychological efforts shift from trust building and accommodating to establishing independence and control. Once in this phase they may resist giving up control of one of the few things of which they do have ultimate control.
Modeling is a valuable tool for potty training. Place a potty seat in the bathroom right across from your toilet. Every time you use the bathroom, say "It's potty time" with a smile, do the sign for potty, and lead your little one to the bathroom with you. Remove their diaper and encourage them to sit on the potty seat while you do. This is a fun time for lots of positive interaction between the two of you. There is no pressure or negativity. You are modeling and creating a curiosity and encouragement of exploration of the potty process (don't shy away from answering any questions your child may have).
You should also place a potty seat in the living room (or play room). Encourage sitting on the potty seat while they are doing activities that will promote sitting still for a period of time. You can sit on the floor next to your child and read a book or play with a toy or watch a show.
After the initial stage of introducing your child to the potty seat, you move into the more serious potty training phase. The key to potty training is to LOSE THE DIAPERS! While potty training your child should be naked from the waist down while you are at home. Anytime they start to go potty or poop, do the sign for potty and "Run, run potty seat!" Initially, you will be cleaning some potty and poop messes off the floor. But this is the way to get the job done. If your child is wearing a diaper, pull-up, or even underwear, going potty or poop can be ignored. If naked from the waist down, going potty or poop cannot be ignored and you can easily see and feel when you need to 'run, run potty seat'.
Once you have lost the diapers, your child needs to sit on the potty seat every half hour. It is important that this is a positive time full of interaction. Telling them to leave their fun toys and banishing them to the bathroom alone will set you both up for failure. Making it a fun bonding time full of positive reinforcement, encouragement, and praise will set you up for success. This step will actually teach your child to put their potty and poop in the potty seat. At first your child will just be sitting on the potty seat as a behavior, not really understanding the connection between that little chair and the liquid that comes out of them.
But then one magical time while they are sitting on the potty seat they will go potty. You see them make their 'poop' face and you 'run, run potty seat' so they put their poop in the potty seat. The connection is made. Praise and pride are had by all. They are driven to repeat the experience. As they get the hang of it, you can extend the time to every hour and eventually you will not have to place on them on the potty seat at all. Note: Children are 'poop trained' before they are 'potty trained'. Poop is easier for your child to control.
Doing the sign for potty is actually very helpful. Young children cannot always communicate verbally what they are able to communicate with their hands. Using the sign for potty allows your child to communicate that potty feeling in any setting or state. It can also function as a cue for release. It's just another way to set yourself and your little one up for success.
Leaving the house while potty training does not have to be scary. First, keep a small potty seat in the trunk of your car. You read right. Second, dress your child in potty training undies (NOT pull-ups). Potty training undies are cotton underwear that have a thick layer of cotton in the middle. Third, keep several pairs of clean undies and pants/shorts in the trunk of the car along with a box of wipes. Having everything you need will reduce the stress level so that potty training can remain a positive experience for both of you. Before you leave the house, use the potty. Once you arrive at your destination, use the potty. Before you leave, use the potty. As soon as you get home, use the potty.
Many children refuse to use public bathrooms as they are big, scary, sometimes gross, and always foreign places. Using the potty seat in your car eliminates this obstacle to successful potty training plus it is significantly easier for you. I also recommend a Piddle Pad for the car seat. Car seats must be completely disassembled to launder the fabric- ugh. A Piddle Pad is a piece of terrycloth fabric that is water proof on the back that accommodates the car seat buckles and sits in the seat of the car seat. If your child has an accident in the car seat, you just toss it in the washer- easy.
As your child successfully progresses through the potty training process, you can move the living room potty seat closer and closer to the bathroom and then eliminate it completely. Your child should actually remain naked from the waist down until they have the fine motor coordination to pull down and up their undies by themselves. After they are successful with undies, you can add pants/shorts.
A baby CAN wear a diaper at night while they are sleeping. Go potty right before bed and as soon as you wake up. But nighttime potty training does not usually happen until a little later. Once you decide you are ready to eliminate diapers at nighttime (once they are no longer breastfeeding to sleep or during the night) you can set them up for success by not giving them anything to drink one hour before bed. It's really that simple: go potty right before bed and don't drink an hour before bed.
Potty training is not as scary or horrible as you may think. The key to successful potty training is consistency! Once the diapers are gone- they are gone! Do it while they are young and you will have a toddlerhood free of potty training battles. It is exponentially easier to potty train a 1 year old than a 2 year old (or older). Go into the process knowing you will be cleaning some floor messes and changing wet clothes. Be prepared for this and it will not be stressful. It is a positive experience to share with your little one.
Rachel Rainbolt, M.A., CEIM
Rachel Rainbolt, a mother of two with twelve years of experience working with young children and parents has a Master's Degree in Family Therapy, is featured as a Parenting Expert on KUSI's "Inside San Diego," and is a freelance published author and Certified Educator of Infant Massage, teaching classes in all things baby including Sensational Baby and Soothing Slumber. She works passionately to nurture the loving bond between parent and child to foster happy, healthy families through her business, Ohana Wellness.
Visit http://www.OhanaWellness.com/ for more articles, classes and parenting resources today!
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Potty Training Tip - Start Young
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