Potty Training a Child – Getting Out of the Diaper Phase

When that magical time comes to switch from using diapers to engaging with the potty, all children can be guaranteed to react in one way; completely unpredictably different. Some kids will jump right in and have it down within a week while others seems to be stuck on the potty idea for a year or more. Potty training a child changes everything, at least for a little while. For the duration of your attempt to convince your child that going potty on the big porcelain throne is much better than pausing his activities for just a moment while he soils his pants before going on about his day you are going to live in the land of pee and poop.

We’ve all read the multitudes of statistics concerning early potty training versus learning those ever important toileting skills a bit too late, which might have you wedged between a rock and diaper. There is a study that can convince you that your timing has failed according to this statistic or that report. For every stage, you can always find at least one report that will easily convince you that you are setting your child up for a lifetime of therapy because you pushed too early or you lingered too late. Stop hanging your hat on that type of information and start noticing your child, and you will most likely know when and if your child is ready for the big potty.

When you first start potty training a child you might need a little guidance. Or you might need constant and consistent feedback from thirteen of your closet friends, your parents, your spouse’s parents, and three pediatricians. The best source of information however, is your child. Watch his behavior, his responses to discussions about the potty before you ever start trying to convince him that this is a good idea. Watching him will help you understand the next steps.

If your child seems interested in the process, he (or she, of course) might start showing interest in a parent when it’s their turn to use the potty. Most often it is the parent of the same gender, but some kids just aren’t picky and will watch anyone who will let them use the facilities. Some children will start to play act with the potty, including wailing while you fish their favorite stuffed bunny from the toilet after they tried to allow it to use the grown up potty and misjudged the size of the hole in the seat. Other children will show no signs of being interested or ready.

Most parents start the process between the ages of 26 months and 32 months, but there is no written rule regarding when the potty training process must begin. Most parents start with trying to teach the child how to get their pee in the potty first, although many parents have reported that their children are ultimately more successful with getting their poop in the right place. This is because a bowel movement produces a different, more noticeable sensation, warning the child that they are going to need to hurry off to the bathroom. The sensation of ‘need to pee’ can be much more subtle and therefore more difficult to master.

Children will often need to urinate on a fairly set schedule. Mastering the schedule is not exactly the same thing as potty training, so be careful about permanent underwear until after you are sure your little one hasn’t managed to hit a schedule, not respond to a physical need. When children wake up, a few minutes after a meal, in the middle of a serious play date, and usually right before bath time. Some small children stick to this schedule so tightly that if you put them on the potty, not only will they go at the appropriate times, but it will seems like they have been accident free. However, deviating from the schedule they have mastered will often result in numerous changes of training pants.

Potty training a child takes both patience as well as a willingness to be flexible. While it is important to be consistent, there can be obvious signs that your child just isn’t ready. If he is crying and carrying on, obviously afraid of something, addressing the fear will help him learn faster. Backing off may give him the time and security he needs to address the fear. Most small children are afraid that if the potty swallows their pee and poop, then it is likely to swallow them as well.

Boys have an advantage when learning how to use the potty. While most boys are taught to sit down when urinating at first, allowing them to sit backwards and sink toilet paper boats (which is nothing more than a few shards of toilet paper floating in the potty) which not only encourages them to use the potty, but also improves aim and eye hand coordination.

The more often you can make going potty in the right place fun, the more success you and your child are going to experience. Children, by nature, are often fearful of change but attracted to fun. Leaving their trusty diaper behind and entering the grown up world of toilets and toilet paper might be more than they can handle unless there is some amount of fun in the whole idea. Often doing things like setting up impromptu rewards and trips to the playground from time to time can help encourage your child to be successful. However, losing your cool, doling out the punishments, or becoming openly disappointed in the child only exacerbates the situation.

It can be difficult for many parents, especially those of the opposite gender, to entertain the idea of allowing their soon ‘to be potty’ graduate to linger about in the bathroom while they are taking care of their own business, but often a little bit of leading via example can play a huge role in successful potty training.



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