Before you begin
- Be prepared to take your time (it’ll happen eventually). Most children get the idea sometime during their third year but if it takes longer that’s fine. If a child has a dry diaper for a couple of hours it’s time to start.
- Summer can be a good time to begin. Remember it can take days, weeks or sometimes months. All children are different.
- Start when there are no big changes coming up in the family.
- Toilet or potty? Either or both. The potty is small and familiar. A normal toilet will need a special seat so children can feel safe.
- Let children see you use the toilet and talk about what you are doing.
- There are some helpful story books around that deal with the topic.
- Take off the diaper or pull-up diapers. It is better if children actually feel the uncomfortable sensation of wet or pooy pants.
- Take children shopping to choose some nice undies and let them wear them whenever it is practical. If you are out take plenty with you.
Down to business
- Get the child to sit on a potty or toilet at regular intervals but don’t worry if nothing happens. The fact that you provide this reminder can help.
- Neither force nor bribery work but encouragement certainly can. Praise children when they get it right but also reinforce positive steps along the way. “You managed to get your pants down all by yourself. Well done!” “You sat on that potty! Good work!”
- If the desired result occurs you can be even more enthusiastic. “You did a wee in the potty! Great!” If the child shows you a positive result, share pride in the achievement. “Look at that! That’s terrific”
- If the child is in daycare let the educators know what you are doing and ask for their cooperation.
When it is done
- Eventfully children will recognise when they need to use the toilet and will take themselves there but it is a gradual process. Even after you think it is done accidents will happen! Don’t let them get you down. Children rarely have such accidents on purpose. Just take it in your stride and clean up without any fuss. If you must say something, just reassure the child that next time they’ll make it to the toilet in time.
What about nighttime?
- Most children are toilet trained during the day before they can stay dry all night.
- If a child has consistently dry diapers when they wake or if they’ve weed just before waking (the diaper will be warm and wet) they may be ready but even then there might be set backs.
- When they get to this stage encourage them to use the toilet before bed but if nothing happens don’t worry. Children aren’t really ready to pee on demand until they are about four.
- Encourage them to use the toilet as soon as they get up but again if nothing happens don’t worry. You are merely trying to get the routine into their heads.
- Use a mattress protector
- Most children get to this stage by their sixth year but some take a little longer.
Compiled by Kathleen Warren
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