Is it time to ditch the diapers?
I think she had to go! 🙂
There are definitely parts of parenting that I like less than others. I know when potty training time rolled around for each of the kids, it was one of those moments when a crazy thought like, “How bad would it be to skip this?” would cross my mind. The next time that thought would cross my mind would be around 3rd grade when it was time to memorize multiplication tables! But, I made it through potty training with all 4 kids and all 4 of them know their times tables….so I guess I can add those to my parenting successes list!
When is a child ready for the big step of potty training? The average age of potty training has slowly creeped up to around age 3. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. One, we are very busy families. Families are on the go, and routines are busy. Potty training takes some consistent effort and time, many times it is hard to find consistent time at home near a potty! The other big reason I feel that potty training is later is disposable diapers. Disposables wick “pee” so well from the skin, that it is difficult for a child to even know when he or she is wet! Disposable diapers and disposable training pants are being made larger and larger, so the need to potty train becomes later and later.
Using the potty is a huge accomplishment! It is a very complex achievement. First a child has to be aware of the sensations of a full bowel and bladder. Next the child learns that these feelings result in a “pee” and a “poop”. The child then must learn how to remove clothes, sit on a potty and hold the pee and poop until he is ready to go, and then finally release those muscles necessary to let the pee and poop come out! No wonder it is such a task to learn!!
Potty training is a learning process not a disciplinary process, there should never be a punishment connected to using the bathroom. I don’t believe that most children can be trained in just a few days! Your child has to understand what you want, and how to do it. They have to understand their body sensations, learn to constrict sphincter muscles, and then relax those muscles to potty. Children also must be motivated and want to please you. If your child is showing an interest in imitating it is a good time to start.
Children will not potty train on their own. Parents must wait until their child is developmentally ready—have patience with the process, but also must initiate it. Children will not just wake up potty trained one morning! Children need the guidance and patience of parents to learn to use the potty and eventually gain control of their “pee” and “poop”.
So is your child ready for the big step? Most children have the muscle control to potty train between 18 months and 3 years of age. Here are a few things to look for when deciding if you both are ready to tackle this process:
- Is your child aware of the need to go? Does your child tell you or do you see a change in facial expression? Does your child hide to have a bowel movement?
- Can your child say or sign words such as wet, dry, potty and go?
- Is your child demonstrating imitative behavior?
- Does your child dislike wet or dirty diapers?
- Is your child able to stay dry for at least 2 hours or wake up dry after a nap?
- Is your child able to pull elastic waist pants up and down?
- Is your child anxious to please you?
- Has your child asked to use the potty?
- Make sure there is not a stressful situation in your life such as weaning, birth of a new baby, change in childcare etc. Wait 4 to 6 weeks after the stressful situation before beginning.
Pre potty training or getting ready!
If your child is 18 months or older…you can begin with these steps so you are ready when your child shows signs of readiness too!
- Name urine and bowel movements. Describe what your child has done using the words you have chosen. There are no “perfect” words, call it what it is! 🙂 My husband wasn’t thrilled when I was telling our son to “tinkle”, be sure you both agree and are consistent! When you see your child begin to have a bowel movement or urinate, describe what he or she is doing. “Go potty”—say this as you see signs your child is pooping or peeing. Describing to your child that they should pee or poop when they feel the pressure, helps to define to them what it is you want them to eventually do on the potty.
- Let your child watch you use the toilet. This will get your child interested and show them what that toilet is for! Gone are your days of privacy!!
- Change your child’s diaper as soon as it is wet or dirty to prevent your child becoming comfortable with the feel.
- Drop the poop into the toilet with your child watching. Encourage your child to help flush the toilet. This will also show your child what goes in the toilet! Flushing is usually very exciting too!
- Purchase a potty chair. You can line the receptacle with plastic wrap—then you can wrap up any poop or pee and dispose of it easily with very little clean up. Or, you can purchase a seat that fits on the adult toilet. I have used both but preferred the latter, much easier with clean up. If you use the seat that fits on the adult toilet, be sure that your child has a stool to put his or her feet on, it is hard to have a bowel movement with feet dangling! The potty chair can be moved to any place in your home and is better for children that have some fear of the “higher” toilet. See what is best for both of you.
- Allow your child to sit on the potty clothed. Let your child sit dolls or stuffed animals on the potty. This will familiarize your child with the potty slowly. Reward or celebrate when your child sits on the potty.
- Buy a “potty book” or movie to start talking about big children using the potty. Here are some cute examples…
- Everyone Poops By Taro Gomi
- I Want My Potty By Tony Ross
- My Big Girl Potty By Joanna Cole
- My Big Boy Potty By Joanna Cole
- Once Upon a Potty By Alona Frankel
- The Princess and the Potty By Wendy Cheyette Lewison
- What Do You Do with a Potty? By Marianne Borgardt (a pop up book)
- Have a basket of toys or books that are only used while on the potty. This will make potty time more fun.
So, this is the starting point! Your child is between 18 months and 2 years, you can begin to introduce the concept. When your child starts to exhibit some signs of readiness….the next step is giving it a try! More to come on this tomorrow!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.