One of the hardest things, in my opinion, is potty training your child. The real question for me was, “Is my child ready to be weaned off the diaper?” Now, I had heard from a lot of other moms that potty training is only effective when the toddler is ready. I have seen kids being ready at 18 months of age and others have taken up to 4 years to be fully potty trained.
I took my mother’s advice and began to potty train, my son, when he started hiding every time he had to pee or poop. Then, after talking to my friends, I realized that there are several signs that tell you if your child is ready for potty training or not.
There are a few signs that tell you that your child is ready:
The age at which these signs appear to differ for boys and girls. Typically, girls are ready earlier, although that definitely cannot be taken as a rule.
Here are some methods that worked out great for my son and me. I have also added a couple that my friends swear by, though I did not get around to trying them. They are simple, yet very effective.
Let your child eat, play and go about their routine as always. After every meal, place your child on the potty for about 15 minutes. If they do not ‘go’, put a diaper back on and continue with the routine. This can be done once in the morning and once in the evening, to begin with. Then, you can move on to full day potty sessions. This is when you put the child on the potty after every meal and even after snacks. I even carried a portable potty chair with me every time we traveled from Delhi to Chandigarh or to Jaipur. All I needed was a clean restroom at any good restraint en route and I was sorted. Just make sure that you remain consistent here.
As much as I hated doing this, this particular idea really got us going. Whenever my son pooped, we would look at it and make it a big deal, complete with wows and clapping and the stuff. Even when we flushed, the swishy sound of the water was something that we almost celebrated each day. I had to make the seemingly dirty business sound fun to my son simply to reinforce the fact that it was the right way to go.
The goal with potty training is to make sure that your child is dry all night. Having dinner a little later than normal makes it less necessary to give your child a drink before bed. Nigh-time training comes a lot later than daytime training. So this should be done when your child is able to wake up from a daytime nap without soiling the diaper or undies. Once this becomes a consistent habit, you can move on to training your child to stay dry all night. Then, you can wean the child off the diaper eventually.
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This is something I practiced whenever we were home all day. I would let my son run around the house in a long t-shirt and no diapers. So, when he had to go, he made sure he went to the potty. After a certain age, children are not comfortable with pooping or peeing just about anywhere. They even cry, almost as if they are embarrassed when this happens. So, instinctively, they run to the potty when they want to go. All we need to do is look for the signs and help.
Whenever your child hits a milestone in potty training, using a reward can really help. My son loves stickers and I used a lot of them. Small things like not soiling his undies or not peeing in his sleep were rewarded. When he went to the potty every time he had to go, there was a small but special reward. He would get a book or a toy of his choice. As parents, we need to be creative with the rewards so that children work towards them actively.
The biggest support system during potty training is your child’s teacher. Tell him or her that you are potty training your child. In case you have to give your child a reminder to go to the pot, make sure you tell the teacher. It is also a good idea to ask the helping staff to take your child to the bathroom once at school before the classes begin. The teacher can also be informed about your reward system. They will gladly oblige. This makes the child understand that everyone appreciates the progress that he or she is making.
Books like Everybody poops and Diapers are not Forever are a great hit with the kids. These books also come with some training tips for parents. My friend used books to actually wean her daughter off the diaper for good. These books come with bright illustrations that tell your child that it is a good thing to poop and pee in the potty. Sometimes, children will learn to pee in the potty but will hesitate to poop in it. That is when these books will come in handy. They will get over the hesitation and gladly use the potty each time.
When you are potty training your child, he or she may not be ready to clean themselves. But as you clean up, tell the child what should be done to clean up after pooping and peeing. Stress on flushing and washing their hands after. Once you inculcate this habit initially, your child will not forget it all their life.
There are chances that your child will have accidents. Tell them that it is alright and that you will try again the next day. This makes them feel more confident. According to experts even though praise works, keep it limited as excessive praise also adds to the stress of performing and is sometimes received like a punishment by children. So watch out for the signs and keep the praises enthusiastic but not over the top.
The child should feel like this is an act of great responsibility and a sign that he or she is growing up. Hope these tips work for you as well as they worked for me and do share your experience.
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