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Helpful Ideas for Potty Training

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There’s no ‘right’ time for your child to start learning to use a potty. He or she must be ready not only bodily but emotionally too, or the process will be a waste of time and may cause tension and emotional disturbance that could have long-term effects on your child’s attitude to ‘bathroom issues’. If you push things, at the very least he or she could be totally uninterested, or treat it all as just a jolly game.

When your child is around two years old, you may notice that he or she has more awareness of things happening in the nappy – and possibly some warning that things are about to happen! These are good indicators, so now could be the moment – but be really ready yourself, because once you begin you will need lots of time, loads of patience… and you must be prepared to persevere, though a successful result will be worth the effort!toddler6

Potty training may be quick and easy, or it may take a while – every child is different – but it will really help if you think about the task ahead:

  • Start during a warm time of the year if possible, as lighter looser clothes are easier to deal with – just a dress or T-shirt with trainer-pants or bare bottom when at home are even better!
  • Make buying the potty part of the ‘adventure’ for your child, and talk about what it is for – be sure the potty (or potties, to save running around the house) is sturdy and will not tip over easily.
  • Put the new potty in the bathroom so that it becomes a normal piece of bathroom equipment, and let your toddler sit on it – nappy on or off – particularly when you or other family members are using the toilet. Dolls or teddies could sit on the potty at times too!
  • Explain simply what the potty is for, that big children use a potty and don’t need nappies but wear pants, and that is what he or she will soon be doing.
  • Have scheduled ‘potty times’. If you know some times when your child often does a wee or poo, that’s great – otherwise after meals is a good idea. Make it a pleasant routine, sit with your child and talk or look at a book, but don’t make him or her sit for ages.
  • Never get upset or angry if nothing happens, and certainly don’t force the issue if your child wants to get off the potty as this will create problems. Use gentle persuasion and encouragement; praise efforts and any ‘results’, but be reasonably casual about everything to avoid your child losing confidence over potty training, or feeling that he or she has done something wrong if there is no ‘result’.
  • As he or she gains more control, your child could graduate to training pants, then to ordinary ones – though it will still be early days, so be ready for a few ‘accidents’.

Getting your young child dry at night is a whole separate challenge, and is not often achievable before the age of at least three years – so night-time nappies will probably be necessary for a good while. But it is always a good idea to have a potty time just before bed and avoid giving drinks for at least an hour before bedtime. Opinions are divided about whether ‘lifting’ (putting your half-asleep child on the potty when you yourself are off to bed) is helpful, as the child is still really asleep, so just gets the message that it’s OK to wee during the night, and is not aware of where it actually happens.

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