Many parents who have been challenged by a potty-resistant child have asked the same question, "What do I have to do to change my child's attitude towards potty training?" There are quick and easy things you can buy, read, and say to get your child to be more willing to step up to the toilet. But it's also worth taking a step back and thinking about your own attitude towards potty training. All too often, I find that even the most tolerant parents are prone to becoming frustrated with, angry at, or end up doing battle with a potty-resistant child. I can tell you that this type of approach doesn't usually work very well.
In the spirit of creating a smoother and more peaceful potty training process, I recommend that parents and caregivers keep these thoughts in mind:
• You and your child are on the same team. A positive and supportive approach is far more likely to get your child to follow you to the potty than anger and frustration.
• Consider it potty learning rather than potty training. This style of thinking will help you see using the potty as an ongoing process, rather than a task to be mastered in a day.
• Set realistic expectations. Competing with your neighbor's potty-trained-in-a-day toddler, or reading books and articles that promise instant results can cause unrealistic expectations on your part. Make sure you know if your child is showing signs they're ready to start potty training, and expect accidents to happen.
• Seeing is believing. Simply put, children are more likely to do as you do - than as you say - inside and outside of the bathroom. If you aren't in the habit of allowing your child to see you modeling good "potty behavior," you should be.
Parental attitude is an important part of helping children learn to use the potty. A positive and supportive attitude will win out over a negative one any day. Do you agree? What's helping you train your toddler to use the potty? Share your potty training tips, thoughts, and frustrations here!View Thread
Stocking the medicine cabinet, setting up the nursery, getting ready for potty training... As a doctor, I'm frequently asked to share my thoughts on what parents need to buy to be properly prepared. I usually start by explaining that "need" is a strong word, since there are really very few parenting products that you'll truly need (on the same level as, say, oxygen or water). I believe that there are useful and creative products that can help make the day-to-day tasks of parenting significantly easier, safer, and even just plain fun. Potty training tools are no exception. So I want to share a few of my own product preferences.
• Potty Seats: Pint-sized potty chairs and rings are popular for a reason. Some parents find that potty chairs allow children easier access and an added measure of independence. Other parents prefer the potty rings that can be placed on adult toilets, as they eliminate the extra handling of pee and poop that's required with potty chairs. I have found it useful to have one of each.
Both potty chairs and potty rings come in kid-friendly colors, shapes, and sizes -- features which I would not discount, because engaging a child's interest is a major component of potty training success. It goes without saying that you should always remember the importance of good bathroom hygiene whenever you or your child use, touch, or otherwise handle any potty chair or ring.
• Step Stools: A sturdy step stool in the bathroom will serve you well. Even if your toddler starts out with her own potty chair, there will come a day when she'll reach the next level of potty training prowess -- switching to the adult toilet. Step stools allow children an important level of independence when reaching for the sink, the soap, or their toothbrush. Make sure any step stool you buy is sturdy and stable, while letting your child choose the color or character theme she likes.
• Potty Books: I'm a huge believer in the benefits of early literacy. Make books available to your child everywhere -- even in the bathroom. Books are a great way to capture a child's attention. They can work wonders in getting him to sit on the potty a bit longer than he might, otherwise. While my children weren't interested in books specifically about pee and poop, such books can teach children to better understand their body parts and bodily functions.
• Safety Locks: It may be a pain to struggle with a locked toilet seat, especially if you've waited just a bit too long to go. But the inconvenience is a very small price to pay. Toddlers are predictably top-heavy and very inquisitive, two characteristics that make the possibility of drowning in the toilet quite possible.
Do you agree with my recommendations? Please share any additional items you have found to be helpful (or useless) on your child's journey to potty training success.View Thread
One of the challenges we all face when helping children learn to use the potty is simply maintaining the proper perspective. I'm not talking about maintaining the proper attitude -- although that's definitely important -- but seeing things from a child's point of view. This includes understanding some of the more common potty-related fears that children may have. These include:
• The toilet flushing sound. As adults, I would imagine that the only time we're really conscious of the sound of a flushing toilet is if we're attempting to flush discretely -- like while talking on the phone, or if it's late at night. However, for young children this loud sound can be much more than just background noise -- in some cases causing outright fear of the flush. A flush-fearing child is not a child who is enthused about potty training. I made it a point to expose my children to flushing when they were very young, and then allowed them to flush for everyone in the family when they were toddlers. Who knows for sure if making them the family's official flushers kept them from fearing the flush? But I'm convinced it's a good idea. • The cold, hard, mile-high adult toilet seat. When a child is afraid of sitting on the toilet, there are several options to help make them more open to potty training. First, it often helps if young children have simply seen the toilet being used by others. If they see you sitting on it, how bad can it be? Second, make use of child-safe step stools, potty rings, and potty seats to make the bathroom and the potty training experience more kid-friendly and welcoming. • Painful poops. Having a bowel movement when constipated is painful. From a child's perspective, it only stands to reason that having a painful experience on the potty, even once, creates an association between potties and pain. That's why it's always important to consider what you're feeding your potty-training child, such as fiber and other stool-softening foods.
So there you have it… some of my potty training tricks-of-the-trade. Now I want to hear some of yours. What is/was your child afraid of in terms of potty training? What have you tried to help a child overcome their fears of using the potty?View Thread
I am a big believer that little boys and little girls should be offered the same, non-gender specific opportunities when it comes to everything -- from what toys they are allowed to play with, to what they're encouraged to be when they grow up. With that said, I do believe that there are fundamental differences between boys and girls in their methods of play, communication, and yes, in how they potty train.
Now, you may think I'm referring to the idea that boy's potty train later than girls. And boys do on average seem to potty train a little later than girls. But that doesn't mean that every boy is predisposed to potty train later than every girl. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it may simply be that toddlers and preschool boys' tendency to be more physically active delays training, somewhat. This makes sense to me. You have to admit that a child's chances of achieving potty training success decrease considerably if he happens to be running around the room more often than patiently sitting still.
I don't find it particularly helpful to focus on whether boys in general are more or less likely to win the potty training race over girls. It's not a race, and we know full well that every child is different. Both girls and boys will rise to the challenge in their own way and on their own schedule. My own three children make for perfect examples. Sure, boys may potty train later, on average. But it was my daughter who defiantly postponed any willful use of the potty until the age of three. Both her younger brothers completely mastered the skill before their second birthdays.
To me, boys versus girls simply comes down to anatomy. Standing up versus sitting down just isn't a conversation I often have with the parents of little girls. Yet, for boys, I find it's an important consideration, to increase the odds of having pee end up in the potty, rather than on the walls. I have found that it is irresistibly tempting for little boys to aim their efforts at targets other than the toilet when standing up. I recommend having boys learn to use the potty sitting down. This has the added benefit of requiring boys to hopefully sit on the toilet long enough to deposit poop and pee in the potty.
So there's my two cents. Now it's your turn. What has been your experience with potty training? What boy- or girl-specific potty training tips do you have to share?View Thread
One of the most common techniques used in potty training has to be the use of rewards. You name it, parents have tried it, in hopes of getting their offspring to put their poop and pee in the potty -- from the promise of M&Ms, cookies, and ice cream, to stickers, toys, and even (in desperation, I suppose) trips to Disneyland.
I am often asked what I think of these techniques. To tell you the truth, I have a hard time justifying them -- especially those that trade food for proper use of the potty. Sure, they may work at first. And yes, I have experienced firsthand the challenge of a potty-resistant child. I'll admit to succumbing to the temptation of offering treats in return for cooperation. But this doesn't change the fact that there are some fundamental problems with using treats and prizes to encourage children to use the potty.
• It is pretty hard to differentiate rewarding children to pee with M&Ms, from out-and-out bribery. Generally speaking, I'm not an advocate of bribery in the context of parenting (or any other context, for that matter). And it may work, at first. But at what cost?
• It's not uncommon for children's expectations to become grander over time. And even if they don't expect more and more, potty training shouldn't come with the learned addition of rewards.
• Rewarding children with sweet treats is hard to justify in light of everything I know about good nutrition. Health-wise, one of the best things you can teach your child is to eat food for food's sake, not for the sake of using the potty, or as a reward or a prize. And we're not usually talking about offering children a carrot, or anything healthy, in return for the desired behavior.
I'm sure this will seem to some of you like the Grinch's approach to potty training. But I can't help it. I just don't recommend that candy and potty training go hand-in-hand.
Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to post your two-cents (or two M&Ms). I certainly don't mean to leave you empty-handed as you tackle potty training. So if you've had potty training success without or with limited use of rewards, what was your secret for success?View Thread
If only toddlers could tell you when they were ready to potty train... Better yet, it would be great if they would just decide on their own to lose the diapers, sit on the toilet, and get the job done -- without parental intervention. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most parents (myself included). It's very important to know the signs of potty training readiness -- for both potty-specific skills, as well as more general, developmental skills.
Potty-specific skills include: • Bladder control, which can be measured by a child's ability to stay dry for two or more hours at a time. Without this, kids have a tough time holding urine long enough to get to the potty. • Predictable pooping. The most common time to poop is right after eating, thanks to a reliable reflex known as the gastro-colic reflex. • Awareness. Your child stops whatever she's doing when she starts to pee or poop, hides while pooping, or is bothered by wet or dirty diapers and expresses her need to be changed.
More general, developmental skills that signal potty training readiness include: • Ability to follow simple instructions. While adults tend to take the process of going to the bathroom for granted, it does require the ability to follow certain steps: Walking to the bathroom, pulling down your pants, sitting on a toilet, peeing and/or pooping, wiping yourself, flushing, and washing your hands. A child's ability to understand and perform these steps is, of course, imperative. • Imitation. Children learn by watching others. An interest in imitating what they see is a great motivator for children to use the potty. • Undressing independently. Diapers or underwear have to be removed before using the potty.
While these are some of the most common signs that a child is ready to start potty training, there is unfortunately no one ingredient list that guarantees swift success.
So, for parents looking forward to potty training, which skills do you see in your children right now? Which do they struggle with or lack?
For the parents who've made it to the other side, how did you know when your child was ready to use the potty?View Thread