The Stress Free Way To Potty Training Success

potty training

Is Your Child Ready?
The answer is yes If… She can communicate with you clearly. That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a big talker, but she does need to be able to somehow let you when she needs a wee or a poo.

She’s aware that she’s doing or has done a wee or a poo. She might say, ’Ooh, I’m doing a wee-wee’, or tell you when she’s got a wet nappy. Or perhaps she always goes to stand behind the sofa to do a poo.

She’s interested in poos and wees. Maybe she comes with you whenever you go to the loo, or pretends to go when you do.

Both boys and girls usually show all these signs at some point between the ages of two and three-and-a-half.

If there’s a little voice in your head wondering, ‘Should I potty-train my child now?’, you’re not alone. Spring is well and truly here, your child is wearing fewer layers and you can dry your washing outside, so swapping nappies for pants has become a much easier proposition. Potty-training season is about to descend and soon you won’t be able to move for proud mums over-sharing their child’s triumphs in the toilet department.

But hold on a moment before you join them. ‘If you’re going to make potty-training stress-free, then your child needs to be ready and willing to make the change. So don’t be guided by what all the other kids at playgroup are doing – your child is the one that matters. ‘Have a think about what else is going on in her world.

Learning how to use a potty will be a major shift in her life, so make sure there aren’t any other big changes looming on the horizon, whether that’s you going back to work, her starting nursery or a baby sibling arriving on the scene.

If you potty-train with the idea of getting your child dry before something else happens, you’re putting pressure on the pair of you to succeed, and that’s not going to help. So, choose a time when there’s not much going on. You’ll need to set aside a couple of days where you can stay at home, and that’s critical to keeping the process stress-free.

You don’t want to be thinking, “Oh, no, I’ve got to get her to have a wee before we go to baby gym at 2pm. And don’t plan anything too hectic in the following couple of weeks either. ‘Your aim is not to get your child 100 per cent dry in a few days, but over a period of a few weeks. So, a holiday a week after you start potty-training is not a good idea.

Before you start, your child needs to be familiar with potties. Take her with you to buy potties, and encourage her to help choose one. It’s difficult to know which type potty she’ll like using – she might like a red one, or prefer one that sits on the toilet seat, so buy a few cheaper different options rather than spending lots on one allsinging, all-dancing model.

Perhaps she’ll want to do her wees in a blue potty, but her poos in a green one. Whatever – the important thing is that multiple potties give her some choice and control in the process. Put one in the bathroom – one in each bathroom if you have more than one – and one in her bedroom. All those potties will mean that you and she will chat about them, and that’s good. Buy a book about pottytraining too to initiate more of those conversations.

Next on your shopping list should be pants. Again, take your child with you to choose. Buy plenty, but don’t spend a fortune: you need to be happy to put these pants in the bin so head to the supermarket and buy basic. And decide how you want to reward your child. You know best what will motivate her the most: ‘At this age, praise is all you need, but if you think a reward chart or some special stickers will really help, then get those ready too.

And that’s it – it’s time to potty-train! When you get your child up in the morning, give her lots of positive encouragement. ‘Tell her, “Today’s the day you get to wear your big-girl pants instead of your nappy.

Take her wet nappy off as normal and clean her up, encourage her to sit on the potty for a minute, then help her into a pair of pants. Make sure she understands that her wees and poos now need to go in the potty, and if she thinks she needs one, that she should tell
you.

Place potties conveniently around the house: don’t worry, it won’t stay this way forever!’ If your child lets you know that she needs a wee or poo, and voluntarily sits on the potty, great. If not, encourage her to have a sit on it every hour and a half or so, and after every meal. Play it by ear. ‘If you know it’s half an hour since she had a drink and she hasn’t sat on the potty, then it’s a good idea to suggest she does with a gentle reminder.

But whatever you do, don’t nag.’ When she does manage a wee in the potty, give her loads and loads of positive praise. Be over the top, give her a sticker, clap, phone Daddy to tell him, celebrate. You don’t need to reward her with chocolate buttons or toys – at this age, positive praise is what works best.’

Now, you’re going to have accidents, and you just need to accept that. Accidents are going to help your child to learn that she needs to use the potty.

The important thing is not to criticise her, or do anything that makes her feel anxious about accidents. ‘Simply clear up the mess and say, “Never mind, maybe next time you’ll get the wee in the potty.” Your aim is to make no fuss about accidents, but give lots of praise for weeing in the potty. That way, she’ll try to repeat what earns her the praise.  It’s critical that you keep your expectations low in regards to what you’re going to achieve on the 1st day.

Tip!
Keep chatting about how great pants are. Say, ‘I like how comfy and dry my pants are, do you?’ or ‘I bet you can run faster in pants than you could in a nappy – let’s see.’

If you get one wee in the right place on day one, then that’s great. Honestly. When you get her ready for bed at the end of the day, tell her that she needs a nappy on at night-time, because she’ll be asleep so she won’t know when to wee. Explain that she’ll still have her big-girl pants on in the daytime tomorrow when she’s awake again. ‘Be clear about this, and get her to see nappies as much of a night-time thing as her pyjamas and blankie.’ Your view should be clear-cut too: potty-training is a daytime activity; don’t even think about getting her nappy-free at night until she’s consistently waking up in the morning with a dry nappy. That might be in a few weeks time, it might be in a year – or two.

On day two, you might get two or three wees or poos in the right place. And on day three, a few more. Expect her to still have accidents, but to make steady progress. When pottytraining doesn’t click straight away, we tend to have a low threshold for thinking our child isn’t ready,’ says Dr Ellie. ‘But if she showed all the signs that she was ready to begin with, then don’t panic, and persevere.’ If you’re not seeing any progress after a few days, then your child is not ready, so pop her back in nappies and try again in a couple of months, or when she shows clear signs of being ready again.

Play the next few days by ear. You’ll know when you’re both feeling confident enough with your potty-training to venture out into the world again. And again, take it slowly. Don’t head straight for the soft-play centre, but try a low-key outing to a friend’s house. ‘Above all, don’t ring-fence a certain time frame in which you want to get your child dry. The process is far more likely to be speedy if you let your child guide the process.

Tip!
Take two zip-lock bags and pack each with a pair of pants, trousers, socks and baby wipes. Put one in your car, the other in your pushchair storage. You’ll be sorted if your child has an accident when you’re out.

Good luck and see you on the other side.

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