Let's Get Potty Trained!
By Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d, Special Educator
Parents often call me saying “HELP — I can’t get my 3 year old near the potty”. Becoming potty trained is a huge milestone for children and their thankful parents and both will find the most joy and a sense of accomplishment when this goal is met together.
There are some important things I would like to say about the process of being potty trained before getting started. Do not compare your children to their siblings or peers because each child will learn this at his or her own pace. Potty training is a learned behavior thus some children pick this up as early as 18 months, while others take as long as 5 years. In addition, boys often take longer than girls to become potty trained. Please note that if a child has developmental delays the ages can vary as well.
In my experience I think 2 1/2 years of age is a good time to get started. If you have been CONSISTENTLY potty training your child and find that he or she is having difficulty learning this skill, as a precautionary measure, please have your physician examine your child.
SO LET’S GET STARTED…
The three most important things to remember when potty training your child are CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY!
1. Take your child into the bathroom and show them how to use the toilet while telling your child what you are doing. He or she can even help out by flushing the toilet, waving bye to ____,____!!! Some children are scared of the flush — so being with them is a great way to assuage their fear before they actually have to do it for themselves.
2. Make sure to have either a training toilet seat, which goes on the toilet itself or a miniature potty in the bathroom. When your child is comfortable ask your little one if they would like to sit. Do not force your child to do this and immediately praise him or her for doing so.
3. Take your child to the store with you and have them pick out their “big boy” or “big girl” underwear and tell everyone you can this, so your child will know that it’s something to be proud of. Let your child know when you are ready to get started that “today you are going to wear your “big boy” or “big girl” underwear.
Remind your child to tell you when he or she has to go potty. If that doesn’t work, I recommend that parents start off taking their children to the potty every 20-30 minutes. Try to keep track of how long he or she stays dry and take them to the potty accordingly. Once the pattern has been established you may find that they do not need regular reminders to use the potty. Children should sit on the potty for 2-3 minutes each time they use it. Do NOT get upset with your child for having accidents!!! Do not question them —“why didn’t you tell me”, and do not look at them with anger or frustration.
Remember to start potty training when you know you can be consistent — diapers/pull ups one day and underwear the next will only confuse your child.
Go to the store and buys special potty treats and toys and have them in a box in the bathroom where he or she can see, but not reach them. Tell your little one that he or she can pick one out every time he makes on the potty. Do NOT give in by giving he or she these items at other times.
As soon as your child starts getting more successful on the potty create a sticker chart 5 stickers earns you a toy or treat. Hang the chart right in the bathroom where it can be seen.
Praise your child for sitting and eventually urinating/having a bowel movement, show your excitement with your facial expressions as well as your words.
- It helps some children to have the faucet water on when they are sitting on the potty.
- Some parents find it helpful to give more liquids during the training period.
- It may help to read to your child while he/she is sitting on the potty.
- Your child will learn to urinate first and then have bowel movements.
- Night time potty training should be done after day time training is mastered.
- Some parents let their little ones sit in the wet underwear few minutes longer for them to understand/feel how uncomfortable they are before changing into dry clothes.
- Use pretend play skills to have a favorite stuffed animal/doll go on the potty. Have your child put on a pair of underwear on the doll or stuffed animal. Read potty books.
Follow these tips and should be well on your way and remember CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY!!!!
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