How To Potty Train A Toddler – The 4 Stages
There is no set age to start potty training your child but most parents decide to start the training process sometime between 18 and 24 months. There is no hard and fast rule about when to start but it’s widely accepted that when a child gets to about 18 months it has the necessary physical and expressive skills to grasp the concept of potty training.
Before any form of training starts it’s important to assess your child to establish whether he/she is ready for the transition as starting too early can cause frustration and anxiety in the child and will only lengthen the process as the child may develop a fear or stubbornness towards the potty.
Research shows that training your first child tends to take longer than training a child that has an older sibling and on average you should expect the process to take between 3 and 6 months. Many children grasp the idea of using the potty or toilet very quickly but may struggle when staying dry throughout the night so it is not uncommon for parents to continue to use pull up style diapers right through the night to avoid accidents in the bed. If you choose to adopt this method then it is important that the parents offer praise to the child when he or she successfully completes a dry night.
The 4 Different stages you may need to go through
Once you have ascertained that your child is ready then it’s always worth drawing up some kind of plan. Decide on an approach to the training process by discussing ideas with your partner, child minders and health workers and make sure that everyone sticks to the plan when in charge of the child.
After drafting a plan and agreeing on a start date the initial part of the training process should focus on getting the child to understand that going to the toilet in their diaper is not the right thing to do. To do this it is important to introduce the child to the potty and explain to them that this is what they should be using when going to the toilet.
Before commencing any training some parents find that it helps if they empty the contents of their child’s diaper into the potty in front of them whilst explaining why they are doing it. A similar technique can also be applied in the early stages whereby the parents sit the child on the potty fully clothed and explain the process to them whilst they use the toilet themselves which also helps the child to overcome any fears that he or she may have of using the potty or toilet.
Once the child is happy to sit on the potty and starts to accept that filling their diaper is not the right thing to do then it’s time to take the next step. At this stage many parents opt to jump straight out of diapers and into normal underwear during the day and pull-up training pants through the night. Other parents prefer to introduce the change gradually by using pull-up training pants through the day and night. There is no right or wrong way but many experts feel that the modern pull-up pant is too similar to a diaper and can cause delays in the training as the child is able to maintain some level of comfort after filling this type of underwear and thus discourages the child from asking for the toilet.
The next stage of the process will focus on honing their new skills, promoting independence and addressing the occasional setback. An important part of the process will be to encourage the child to use the potty independently and with minimal prompting from the parents. A useful technique when trying to achieve this is to have a potty readily available in whatever room the child is playing in and allow them to use it when they want. It’s sometimes a good idea if the parent asks the child to go every once in a while, but eventually he or she will grasp the concept and be able to make their own decision to sit on the potty when the need arises.
The child will now be well on their way to mastering their new skill but the final stage is really about the child acknowledging that it is their job to go to the toilet or at least let someone know that they need to go. Most children adapt very quickly when they receive praise for getting it right so be prepared to continue with that even after they appear to have perfected this skill.
Incentives And Rewards For Toilet Training
Many parents decide to offer incentives and reward their children when potty training as it’s generally acknowledged that children tend to respond well to this type of motivation. At this stage it’s worth noting that whatever you choose to reward them with it has to be done almost immediately and needs to be explained.
Rewards should also be kept small, such as coloring pens, Matchbox cars, or stickers. These small gifts or trinkets can often be found in the dollar store. Buying a stamp with an ink-pad and stamping your child’s hand whenever they successfully go has been found to be popular and so too has the use of temporary tattoos. Magnets can be a great reward and especially magnetic alphabets and numbers. After each successful attempt your child can be rewarded with a new alphabet letter or number and so in that way they are not only learning their toilet training but also their ABC’s and 123’s. An extremely cheap reward idea is to give your child printable coloring sheets because kids love to color.
There are various training methods available that offer no form of reward other than praise from the parents. During the infant years children respond well to praise in all aspects of their life and this can be used to install confidence within the child.
Nobody is claiming that it is easy, but as a parent you will have dealt with the sleepless nights, the feeding and the endless diaper changes so you should be equipped to cope with the next stage in your child’s development.