Congratulations! If you have discovered this post, then you are most likely considering potty training your child. Or, you’ve tried before but now your child is regressing.
There is a dizzying array of materials on the subject of potty training. While every child, family, and situation is different, there are some basic developmental stages and approaches to potty training that are backed by research.
First take a brief look at history to gain some insight:
In the 1950′s, 92% of children were potty trained by 18 months old. Today, roughly only about 4% of toddlers are potty trained by 18 months. In fact, only 60% are trained by 3 years old!
Yet, current research suggests that the ideal window is between 18-32 months and those trained later show more problems with the training process and have ongoing issues of incontinence. In the end, age should not be the deciding factor. Instead look at physical and developmental readiness clues.
Your child is ready if s/he:
- already shows a pattern of following rules and directions
- can safely walk to and from the potty
- is free of medical problems that might complicate this process
- can follow simple commands
Below are 5 simple commands to try with your child.
Ask these in a natural, playful way:
- Point to your nose.
- Point to your mouth.
- Sit down.
- Stand up.
- Place one object inside another: “put baby doll in a stroller”.
I know, these may seem like surprising ways to gauge if your child is ready to potty train, but they’re all you need. It’s an added bonus if your child is demonstrating an active interest in the potty, but that is not the magic sign. Many parents make the mistake of waiting for this behavior alone. This may come much later, well past the time when potty training is the easiest.
What does this mean?
If your child responds appropriately to the above list then he or she is ready to begin potty training! My potty training strategy advocates that you understand your own child’s development and harness her readiness rather than just waiting for the mysterious magical moment (psst – there isn’t one!). The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
Like other areas of child development, the child is often there and ready (in her zing) before the parent is aware or ready. This causes unanticipated problems.
These zing moments are temporary and if missed become remedial teachings. Developing new skills, such as using a potty, is most effective when in the zing. After the zing passes, teaching takes much more work, backtracking, and sometimes even force.
This is where the adult’s keen awareness, positive support, and matter-of-fact attitude come into play.
Tips for Potty Training Your Toddler:
- Create a period of time to devote to this project. Make sure that it syncs with your child’s zing and your own ability to be around home for at least a few days.
- Periodically mention to your toddler that he soon be all done with using diapers and will get to use a toilet. Begin these conversations prior to the change to allow the child to begin to absorb the idea.
- Make the choice to begin the process and don’t look back. If you are hesitant, your child will be too.
- When the time comes, put away the diapers for good and set your sights on this goal.
- Maintain a tone that is matter-of-fact, confident, warm, and encouraging throughout the process.
- Place a child-sized potty in the bathroom so the child can sit independently.
- Allow your child to see family members using the toilet.
- It is helpful if the child can be naked or nearly naked when beginning this process. An unexpected trickle of urine will quickly become associated with the need for muscle control. When dressing, use only cotton underwear.
- Prepare yourself and your house for many puddles. After all, making it to the potty is less hit and more miss at first.
- From the beginning allow your child to participate in the clean-up.
- Begin daytime and nighttime training simultaneously.
Stick with it! Consistency and attitude are key. When you begin to second guess this or worse, are discouraged by skeptical, unsure, or jealous friends, remember this:
In the 1950s studies indicate that 92% of children (both boys and girls) were potty trained by 18 months. Parenting has changed in the past 50-60 years, but children’s developmental capabilities have not.
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