Potty Training 101

When my daughter was young, I was not looking forward potty training. I had been working as an Autism Support Worker and had implemented many potty training programs to our clients – sitting on the potty every 20 minutes, dealing with the resistant behaviours, awarding any progress, seeing no progress, cleaning up messes…

Every child is different, no matter their level of development, and mine was no exception. While having her pee in the toilet came with great ease, pooping was another story.

Speak of stories, here’s one: She used to refuse to poop in the toilet and insisted on using her panties. I would hide her underwear in an attempt to encourage toilet use. I knew she had to poop when her underwear drawer appeared ransacked in a desperate search for panties to poop in.

When it comes down to it, potty training is a simple formula that can be applied to all children. How quickly and effectively it works…that depends on the child.

The one rule of potty training is to never give up. Every other step is fluid and can be tailored to your child’s specific needs.

Is Your Child Ready?

If your child is anywhere near as stubborn as mine is, then you’ll know trying to get them to do anything before they are ready is impossible.

Before you begin a potty training regime, be sure that your little one is, in fact, ready to take on the toilet:

  • Is he or she interested in the toilet? Do they play with the flusher or watch the water swirl down? Are they curiously watching you use the toilet?
  • Can he or she sit on the toilet calmly for a short period of time without expectation of voiding into it?
  • Are their diapers staying dry for longer periods of time?
  • Can they or do they indicate to you when they have peed or pooped in their diaper?
  • Do they have basic communication skills? Can they use simple words?

If your child is exhibiting any or all of these signs of interest, it’s time to gear up.

Prep for Potty Time!

To save yourself a massive headache, prepare the materials you will need before beginning potty training. Having everything on hand means you can deal with messes, misses and successes quickly and without the hassle of tornado-ing your home in search of materials.

Here are a few things you will want on hand:

  • On-hand cleaners and clothes to wipe up accidents or misses.
  • A potty or potty seat. Be sure to let your child’s preference guide you on this one.
  • Lots of underwear and pants that are easy to pull up and down.
  • Pull-ups for naps and nighttime.
  • A sticker chart or reward system for successful potty use.

The Set-Up

Before you plunk your child on the toilet and attempt to become a “Pee-Whisperer”, you need to gear them up for the experience. Potty training can be an intimidating and scary experience for your little one, so be sure to ease them into the situation.

Create ease in the bathroom by playing games and having fun in and around the toilet. If they are comfortable sitting on the toilet, bring in toys or books to keep them entertained. You should be praising them for the simple task of sitting on the toilet.

The Routine

Once your child is comfortable sitting on the toilet, it sort of becomes a “wait-and-see” game if they are actually going to eliminate into it. You can help this process along by “flooding” them with water throughout the day and placing them on the toilet every 20 minutes.

Eventually, they are going to have to go. Maintain this routine until it finally happens. When it does – party time! Be sure to have those rewards on hand.

Pulling Out All The Stops

Once you establish with your child that peeing in the toilet is a good thing, it’s time to get serious. It’s time to go Full-Undie mode by getting rid of the diapers and wearing only underwear throughout the day.

Keep on with the potty routine every 20 minutes, increasing the time in between if they are consistently staying dry for that period of time. Continue to reward for eliminating into the toilet while giving praise for staying dry.

As they begin to use the toilet during the times you place them upon it, you can start to decrease this part of the routine and instead ask if they need to go.

More Tips and Tricks

This is a pretty basic potty routine which uses the combination of consistency and rewards to ensure success.

However, there are always little tips and tricks you can use to make the process more effective:

  • Start potty training on the weekend. This is the premise behind the “3 Day Method” parents use to train their children. Try to choose 3 consecutive days that you can focus only on potty training. Life does happen and may disrupt the routine, but that’s okay – it may just take a little longer.
  • Use the sticker chart to prolong rewards. Once your little one gets that they are supposed to pee in the toilet, you can then require 2 successful toilet-uses before they are rewarded and then 3 and so on. This is a great way to phase out a reward system.
  • Have your little one choose their own potty seat as well as underwear with their favourite characters on them. This will make the experience more personal for them and have them more involved in the process.

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