Thursday, December 24, 2009

Potty training

Parent Asks: How do I potty train my toddler? He doesn't seem interested in even sitting on the potty and often will scream when I try and put him on the potty.

Kay Answers: First of all when you buy a child's potty chair if possible get the same sex parent involved in the potty training. Children from an early age like to mimic their caregivers. When you go to the bathroom take the child with you. Letting them sit on the potty while you do is the fastest method of potty training.

Sometimes when children are afraid of the potty it is a good idea to surround the potty with some favorite toys. I let my children play with the potty (before it was ever used of course) to let them see the potty wouldn't hurt them. The newer potty chairs I have bought for my grandchildren are great! They have a little red beam in them that triggers the potty to play a da ta da (like the old margarine commercials) every time the tot tinkles in the potty. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement. Anytime a child goes in the potty reinforce the behavior. My daughter had a little sing song of "Sierra went in the potty!" which she would sing and we would clap to. Make one up!

Next, you need to carry a portable potty with you in the car. Expecting children who are training to hold it on demand is just ridiculous. With my grand-daughter (and no I didn't realize this with my own children so many years ago) we carried around a potty chair in the car and when she said she had to go we pulled over immediately and she went.

Another thing is to prepare a month in advance. If you check out the bookstores in the children's section there are books with pictures for just about everything now. Get the book on going to the potty. It has pictures and words and helps children understand the "process."

Remember little ones are more process oriented than goal oriented.

Last and most important, being consistent and flexible at the same time. Do not make up your mind your child will be trained by the time they are 2 or whenever. Each child is different. I have so many parents who write me and ask what is wrong because their child is having accidents.

All children have accidents. It is critical to not shame them.

From what parents tell me and from my own personal experience with my own children, girls will potty train earlier than boys. They show an interest sooner. I suspect it is just anatomy and little girls get more uncomfortable with their messy diapers sooner than boys. (Not a fact, just my opinion).

Some children have accidents from time to time. Often it is about how consistent we caregivers are and whether or not we follow through with training.

However, over the years I have reassured parents that I haven't' heard teachers complain about children coming to school in diapers so this must mean that children get it before Kindergarten, so relax! Enjoy your children while they are little as you do not get to walk this way with this child again!

Kay