The Million-Dollar Question

Posted by ~PottyMD on Oct 9th 2019

The Million-Dollar Question

Are you ready to potty train?

"Potty training your child should not be a big deal. It should be something you approach with excitement and optimism."    ~ Dr. D. Preston Smith

The perfect time to start potty training is .. when your child is ready!

The best potty training method for your child is .. the one that works!

You know your child the best. It's helpful to learn about various methods of training, and you may end up trying more than one technique. However, you should not let someone else (family, friends, mommy bloggers, etc.) tell you that you must do it a particular way and by a certain age. Don't compare your child to other children! You will be discovering when your child is physically and emotionally ready to learn and which techniques work best for your child and your family.

So - are you ready to begin? Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you have the time to commit to the process? Do you have a comfortable family routine and no big changes looming on the near horizon?
  • Is your child showing signs of readiness?
    • Telling you they need a clean diaper or asking to use the potty
    • Following you or siblings to the toilet and asking questions
    • Able to help with lowering pants and underwear, and to position themselves on the potty or toilet seat with little or no assistance
    • Willing to stop playing to use the potty
    • Hiding to poop
    • Having a dry diaper for several hours at a time
    • Having a dry diaper most nights and can use the potty in the morning
  • Do you have the tools you need, such as:
    • A potty seat insert for an adult toilet and/or a child's potty chair
    • A step stool for the big toilet and for hand-washing
    • Training pants (good to use instead of pull-ups as the child will better feel the uncomfortable sensation of wet or poopy pants)
    • Underwear --which your child has picked out
    • Children's books on the topic to read together
    • potty reminder watch or potty timer
    • A progress/reward chart and stickers to acknowledge successes or other small rewards for positive reinforcement and motivation

Follow your instincts - and be flexible as you go!

"Each child is a unique little individual and each family has its own unique dynamics. What brings results for one child may bring only frustration to another."    ~ Dr. Smith

Where do you start?

- Patience! There will be accidents. There may be setbacks. Don't get upset. Your child is learning, and calm, patient consistency will deliver the best results.

- Practice with your child pulling pants and/or underwear down/up.

- Practice sitting on the toilet/potty, even with clothes in place, so they are familiar with the position.

- Have your child sit on the toilet/potty seat at regular intervals (and before going to bed) for 10 minutes at a time to start. It's best to start boys off this way, too, as it is easier for them to completely empty their bladder when seated - another goal of potty training.

- Give plenty of positive reinforcement for each step along the way - not just for successfully using the potty, but "You got your pants down all by yourself - great job!" "You sat on your potty - way to go!" and so on.

- If the desired result of peeing or pooping occurs, help them express pride in their achievement and celebrate with even greater enthusiasm.

- Enlist the help of your child's care providers in the process to ensure consistency. Potty training is a team activity and must involve everyone who has a role in your child's daily routine.

- Use tools such as an alarm reminder watch to engage your child in taking responsibility to routinely use the potty.

What about nighttime dryness?

  • Generally, daytime toilet training precedes nighttime dryness.
  • Encourage your child to sit on the toilet or potty before bedtime and again when they first get up in the morning; even if nothing happens, your goal is establishing a good routine. Children usually aren't able to pee on demand until about the age of four.
  • Consider getting them up to try to use the potty about two hours after they have gone to bed.
  • Make use of a good bed pad or mattress protector to minimize nighttime cleanups; most kids are dry through the night by about age six, though some may take a little longer.
  • If bedwetting continues longer than you feel it should, be sure to consult your pediatrician. There are tools to help achieve nighttime dryness in older children, such as wearable alarms and bed pad alarms.

Your child will soon learn to recognize their needs and take themselves to the toilet to pee and poop, but don't forget, it is a learning process. Don't let setbacks get you down, and don't make a fuss - accidents are just that, and not intentional. Calmly help your child clean up and reassure them that they will make it to the toilet the next time.

Remember to keep the process in perspective - it's just potty training, it's not a test of your skills or measurement of your success as a parent. It's a stressful time, but with your guidance and encouragement, your child will successfully master using the potty!