When having a clear out a few weeks ago it was time to bid the potty a final farewell having become redundant in favour of the ‘big boy toilet’. It got me thinking about how different my three experiences with potty training had been, and not just because of gender! First time round I had no clue and spent most of my time winging it, learning on the job! Due to a big age gap my second and third experiences were completely different too. Having survived three rounds of potty training, I thought I would share some of the knowledge I gained along the way.
Talk about it
As a parent the chances of using the loo without a pair of little eyes watching are about the same as seeing pigs fly, so use the opportunity to discuss what you are doing. Explain about becoming a big boy/girl and no longer needing to wear nappies and that all the wee’s and poo’s need to go into the potty or toilet. Explain that in the future they too can be like Mummy/Daddy/older siblings. Even if they may not seem to know what you are talking about it’s amazing how much knowledge they will absorb, process and store.
Involve your child in the choosing and purchase of the potty and the new underwear (make sure you buy plenty!). By helping make the decisions they will feel in control and more relaxed about the whole process. I found that having a potty in the house before we actively started training was a fantastic way to allow the kids to become comfortable with it – using a doll or teddy for a spot of role play is a great way to allow your child to explore the new piece of equipment without any pressure.
There are some fantastic books that deal with potty training, for my youngest I used Pirate Pete’s Potty – the girls alternative is Princess Polly’s Potty . We also watched the cartoon versions on YouTube which I found really helped – Pirate Pete Video and Princess Polly Video. Of course books aren’t essential, but I found that having a visual aid really helped when talking about the process.
I remember as a first time Mum being petrified of potty training, constantly worrying if I was doing it right. Something I learnt very quickly is that kids can see right through you and pick up on the slightest whiff nerves. Even if you are a quivering wreck underneath make sure you are confident and stress free on the outside. Remember your child is new to this too they will be nervous, so you need to take the lead and be confident.
Look for signs
Before even contemplating potty training make sure your child is ready. Reading online and speaking to friends it’s quite easy to start worrying that you child is behind their peers when you hear stories of kids that are successfully trained by the age of two. However, it’s important to remember that every child is unique, and it is just a fact of life that some are ready to train earlier than other. There are a few signs to look out for to give you a clue that the time to start is approaching:
- They start taking an active interest in toileting
- They tell you when they are going in their nappy
- They realise when they are wet or dirty and ask to be changed.
Don’t push it!
When you start potty training there are going to be accidents – unless you are very lucky! – however if after a week you find the rate of success isn’t great it may be worth considering a return to nappies and trying again in a few months. This may sound like a step backwards however it could be that your child just isn’t ready yet. I experienced this with my youngest two and within a couple of months they made the decision of their own accord to start using the potty – we never looked back and they had very few accidents as a result! I think it just took them a while to get their head round what they needed to do and by giving them the time with no pressure something clicked, and they had cracked it.
Rewards and praise
It is super important that every success is celebrated, even the tiniest dribble of wee only visible with a microscope received massive cheers and claps in our house! Lots of happy smiley faces are essential even when there has been an accident- be sure to reassure your child that having an accident is fine and explain what to do next time they feel the need to go so they understand what’s expected.
Reward charts, whilst not for everyone, are a fantastic way for your child to visually see how well they are doing. We operated a system where if the kids earned X number of stickers they received a small treat and we found that the incentive really helped motivate and focus them.
Practice makes perfect
The most important thing to remember when potty training is that it’s a (sometimes long) process so don’t expect your child to be clean and dry in one day. It’s a learning process for both you and your child and regardless of how long it takes you will get there. Don’t feel pressured by outside influence, your child will do it in their own time, there is no age set in stone for when your child MUST be potty trained so take it one day at a time.