Don't Be Driven Potty by Potty Training!

Don't Be Driven Potty by Potty Training!

Here's help to make potty training as easy as the ABCs

News from the charity Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC) that they're running many more potty training courses for school nurses is quite shocking. They've found this is necessary due to the number of school-age children still in nappies. I'm shocked because potty training isn't difficult - it’s a basic skill every child can learn without much fuss.

The crux of the problem is busy parents put it off until it's too late or develop irrational anxieties seeing it as a massive challenge. There are many myths about what they should and shouldn't do, with other parents eager to share potty training wisdom - that may be more ‘old wives’ tale’ than wise!

There’s nothing mystical about the process. Just as children learn to feed themselves and get dressed, children will learn to use a potty if encouraged in a straightforward manner. Children all over the world, often in difficult circumstances, learn to become fully continent.

You can put potty training in perspective with my “Five Cs" of potty training. These include consistency, calmness, creativity, confidence (your own and instilling it in your child), and commonsense.

Consistency is crucial. This includes consistency about when you sit your child on their potty - at fairly regular times - and your attitude to potty training which should consistently be positive. Introduce potty training when your child’s sitting and standing well, and can understand basic concepts about learning new skills like feeding themselves. Your child may be ready to use the potty anytime between 12 and 24 months. Ignore what your neighbour's child’s doing!

Consistency includes keeping their potty in the same, familiar place perhaps near their nappy-changing area. Be matter of fact explaining they’re becoming a big boy or girl, and like daddy and mummy will start using a potty rather than nappies one day. Gauge how long their nappies stay dry; suggesting they sit on the potty for a few minutes, half an hour or so before you'd normally change them.

Calmness is key. Don't get upset if they don't use their potty. They'll cotton on and may use their potty-time to wind you up. Let them get used to it - it may be a couple days or a couple months before they actually use it. Your child’s unique so don't get anxious if your best friend's child used their potty straight away.

Now you can get creative in different ways. For instance, decorate your child's potty with stickers of their favourite cartoon or television character like Thomas the Tank. This personalises their potty. Suggest they choose their favourite teddy to sit on a make-believe potty beside them. Chat in a calm, encouraging manner about Mr Rabbit or Miss Bear also becoming a big boy or girl, too. Sit near them and even read a few pages from their favourite book. Anything creative that passes a few minutes in a pleasant way.

Confidence is the next key issue. Demonstrate your confidence that they’re becoming a big boy or girl and that using their potty’s simply part of that. Don't fret over accidents – that’ll sap their confidence. Take a matter-of-fact attitude saying that happens to everyone. As they get used to the potty and start using it, start taking them out of nappies. Summer’s the perfect time to let them run about without nappies. It makes it easy to pop them on when you think it's about time they might use it.

Finally, let common sense guide you. If you've just started potty training and, say, they catch a cold, common sense dictates not to worry about it while they’re ill. Give lots of praise when they attempt to use it and for successes. Continue to monitor timing as the periods of time between wetting their nappies will increase. And continue to suggest sitting on the potty half an hour or so before that.

Common sense also shows that flexibility is key so, e.g., if a visitor arrives when you'd normally pop them on, don't insist they do it when they're keen to be involved in the visit..

Common sense is crucial when starting nighttime training. Only allow moderate fluid intake after supper. After bath-time, before they're in their pyjamas, pop them on. Or pop them on before story-time. When you think they're ready gently get them up before you go to bed and pop them on. As they've had increasing successes then doing this at, say, midnight means they might go the rest of the night dry. When they're ready to come out of night-time nappies use a training sheet.

Without being taught this basic skill they can feel humiliated at school. As with any other skill you can ensure they’re potty trained well in time for school.

The ERIC helpline: 0845-370-8008 (M – F 10a.m.- 4p.m.)


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