ParenTalk: The Nestery Handbook to Potty Training
One of the most rewarding and memorable experiences in parenting is accomplishing ‘potty training’ of the little one. It is a significant toddler and parent milestone that has been reached after many many hits and misses, refusals and resistance, surviving accidents and overcoming fears, making it a formidable journey for both parents and children. The Nestery brings to you a handbook of toilet training, signs of readiness, and ways to help move things along.
The right time -Too early or a bit late?
Usually children begin to show signs of readiness between the age of 18-24 months. However the willingness is not age dependent and few may still not be willing to take the plunge until they turn 3. The physiologic, developmental, and behavioral stage of your child will determine the appropriate age to begin potty training.There is no need to worry if the child is taking some time, caregivers need to be patient until the child is willing to happily mount the potty seat all by him/herself.
Green signals for potty training
- When the baby has begun sitting properly and consuming at least three solid meals in a day.
- If the child is able to communicate the need to relieve through words or gestures.
- Have upto 2 hours or more of staying dry durations.
- Is able to physically access the toilet and sit on the toilet.
- Can the child understand and follow the way to the toilet and instructions of hygiene.
- If the child is keen to use the toilet and wear appropriate underwear.
- Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
If your child is showing most of these signs then it is time to take the big leap! But remember potty training does not mean that the child will begin using the loo independently; he/she will have to be accompanied and assisted until the age of even 5. So as caregivers it is important to keep realistic expectations from their children when taking off with potty training.
Accidents in the toilet are very much part of the journey, but it is a learning process to the child and caregivers both, like carrying your mobile when you have a toilet task at hand with a child is certainly a very risky act!
Be wise and do not admonish the child for any mishaps while they are at it. Scolding and punishing children when they are in the process to learn to use the toilet will only discourage them and plant fear in their developing minds.
Potty training is a long process, which will require patience and time from caregivers, so begin when you can devote time and energy to your little one everytime they wish to need to go pee or poo !
Also it is advised to avoid embarking on the process when the child is going through a disruptive phase that disturbs their routine or bring in a big change – birth of a sibling, shifting house etc
Potty Word Bank
Caregivers must make their child understand that urination or defecation are natural processes of the body that helps it to remain healthy. However, children must learn the concepts in very simple words that they can use when they need to attend nature’s call. Avoid using negative words like ‘ dirty, smelly, chi chi etc’ children tend to associate relieving themselves with shame and awkwardness if they feel what they are doing is something repulsive for their caregivers.
A grandmother’s trick has validation from research that making sounds of water like ‘sss’ or ‘pss’ or ‘shhshhsh’ or running the bath water while they are sitting on the potty seat, stimulate their impulses for elimination. Children begin associating these sounds with the need to use the potty/toilet and recognize it as a signal and connect his impulses with the act of using the potty.
Get – Set – Go
When it is time to get going with potty training, it is very important to prep-up and follow some necessary guidelines.
Get the right gear–
Select a well fitting potty seat, which is to the height that the child’s feet touch the ground. It must hold them snug and safely. Encourage the child to explore it, allow to sit even when clothed. Place the potty seat in or near the bathroom. If using a seat reducer
Wording it right–
When introducing a new skill like potty training, caregivers must use appropriate and hygiene related words with their child. Negative words will only dissuade the little ones.
Some books, songs may help motivate the child.
Follow a potty timetable –
Children must be seated on the potty seat first things after they wake up and also after naps during the day. This will help to set their bowel clocks and put them into a good daily habit. Potty seating after two-hour intervals is advisable. Keeping the child’s favorite toys near the potty seat or reading a story can keep the child entertained and sit on the potty seat for the required duration. The potty seat is an essential, carry it on the go for vacations, family get-togethers etc.
Watch out for ‘have to go’ signals –
Children begin to express when they need to relieve themselves either in words or by actions – squatting, squirming or simply holding their genital area. If they begin doing this it is time for caregivers to rush them to their potty seats/ toilet. Applaud children when they approach themselves and inform about using the potty seat. During this phase it is advised to dress the child in easy to remove and comfortable clothes to make things convenient and avoid soiling of clothes.
Potty training for nighttime –
This part requires a little more prep than potty training during the day. Begin from limiting liquid intake before bedtime. Ensure that the child uses the potty before bedtime; this will aid bladder control during sleep and help in remaining dry. The child may still wet the bed, it is very normal, hence use mattress protectors and a set of clothes handy incase require a quick change.
Hygiene habits – Potty training is a phase when caregivers can introduce all good hygiene practices to the child. Washing hands, using a towel or napkin, flushing the toilet, wearing clean innerwear and most importantly cleaning the genital areas properly – girls must be taught to part legs and wipe/wash from front to back to avoid spreading germs from rectum to the vaginal opening. Boys can be must be taught to stand straight, hold and aim into the toilet to avoid spills.
Reward and recognition – Potty training requires efforts and dedication from both parents and children alike. Caregivers must applaud each time the child makes it to the potty or informs timely about the needing to use the potty seat. Such positive reinforcement will help them form healthy habits and build more confidence in using the potty seat themselves. Do not scold or punish the child for any misses or accidents, it happens and is very much part of the learning.
If the child seems reluctant/scared or facing any kind of physical discomfort using the potty seat for a continued period of time. Caregivers may seek help from a healthcare professional for guidance.
Potty training is a major disruption that will happen in the daily routine of the child. It poses many challenges but once achieved it is a big feat for caregivers. This milestone is the start of your child becoming more self-reliant and responsible so every little step towards it must be celebrated with lots of enthusiasm and treats!
Wishing you good luck for becoming potty trained soon as a one strong family team !