Many parents really stress about potty training. For MOST kids it does not have to be challenging, but you have to be patient. You have to have a child that is ready! There are some things you can do to help get your child ready, but you must remember a few key things!
First of all, you can lead a child to the potty, but YOU cannot make them use it! This is not about you, your child has to want to use it. Your child has to have the ability to control their muscles internally. Your child has to recognize the body's signals before it's too late! And your child need to be able to get on the toilet or be able to wait for help. Here are some things you can do to make the process as painless and dry as possible!
Start making sitting on the potty part of your diaper changing routine, don't make him sit there for a long time, just 30 secs to a min if he's willing. You don't have to do this every time or change a diaper. Start with 1 time a day, either before bath, upon waking or just before bed. Pick a time that works best for you. You can start as soon as your child can sit safely on the potty. There are many options for helping your child get up on the potty. Obviously you can lift them onto it, but I think it's important to have a stool for them to use, and so that they can have a place to put their feet. This will help them feel more secure and be more successful with having bowel movements on the toilet. I like this one because it wraps around the potty and allows plenty of room for their feet, especially if they straddle the seat.
I prefer to use on the toilet potty seats like this one. I love that it fits on to your toilet, so there is one less transition AND you can easily take it with you. Another awesome feature is that you can use it as a potty chair if you are not near a bathroom or your only options are not kid friendly (certain port a potties are less than desirable for a young child) with this style you can put it in the back of your van or SUV. You just buy these to catch and absorb everything. If you prefer a separate potty chair this is a great option. It's smooth so little boys don't have to worry about getting scratched in delicate areas, but it's high enough in the front to help avoid spraying accidents!!
If you do have a boy, please be sure that all edges are soft and smooth!! Some potty seats are just not user friendly for little boys! ALSO and maybe the most important part, tell your little boys to push their penis DOWN and aim into the water!! I also highly recommend to start off sitting! Have them sit at home as long as possible! I really cuts down on the mess in the bathroom!!
One trick I really like, if you live where you can do this safely, is letting your child be bare bottomed outside. You can use a long shirt for privacy, but your want to make sure they don't sit on anything that could hurt them, but if you can do it safely, sometimes it helps little one make the connection between the word “pee” and the actually thing! You can also do this in your home if you are ok with pee any and every where. That was not something I was ok with! You can also try standing them in the tub or shower and having water on their feet and hope to catch them peeing. (I recommend running the shower to do this so you are not encouraging standing in the tub, but do what works for you and your child.)
Ok, moving on. so now you have incorporated sitting on the potty at at least 1 daily diaper change. Start adding more times. (If your child is hesitant to sit on the potty bare bottomed you can start with sitting on it in a diaper, if that is even too scary, start with the lid closed.) Hopefully at some point your child will pee “by accident” on the potty. This is a great opportunity to talk about how that is the pee (or poop) that you are talking about and it's supposed to go in the potty! You can also take dirty diapers (the poopy ones) and dump the poo into the toilet and flush it away! It's a much better option than throwing it in the trash!
Once you start noticing your child hiding to poop, try to get them to sit on the potty instead of hiding, offer to step out of sight, or turn your back if they prefer a little alone time, but stay close by and try to keep an eye on them. A toilet can be a drowning hazard so do not walk away! Some kids really struggling with pooping on the toilet. Some kids really feel as if they are loosing part of themselves. I really like Dr. T. Barry Brazelton's explanation. You can get his book here.
If he is able to stay dry for 20-30min at a time you can start going to the potty every 30min or so, TELL him it's time, don't ask! 2yr olds are notorious for saying no!! Soon he will hopefully start to notice that he has to go before he pees in his diaper. Do not switch to underwear until you are ready to quit diapers for good (during waking hours, don't worry about bedtime). Do not shame for any accident!!
If your child is struggling to “hold it” check to see if he/she is constipated. It's still possible to have bowel movements and be constipated. Consult your doctor if you suspect that they could be constipated or if they are struggling. A full bowel can press on the bladder making it difficult for kids to hold it. Constipation can also cause leakage from the bowels. Another common, but rarely talked about problem, is encopresis, please consult your doctor if your child is having accidents past the age of 4.
Potty training during the day is separate from night time dryness. Most kids are not dry at night at the same time they are dry during the day. It is also common for kids to start wetting just before a growth spurt, before or during illnesses, or after trauma.
So, what if your child doesn't seem to notice or care that they are wet? It can be difficult for kids to notice wetness in today's diapers. They are very absorbent. You can put underwear inside the diaper. This will help give the feeling of being wet, without a big mess for you, just be sure all of the underwear is inside the diaper, if some sticks out, it will leak. Another option is training pants, like these. I do not recommend disposable training pants, because they absorb just like diapers and defeat the purpose. You can also use nylon covers over reusable training pants to help cut down on leaks, but still giving the feeling of being wet.
Sometimes kids with sensory issues really do not notice being wet nor do they recognize the natural body signals of needing to use the toilet. This can make potty training really difficult. The best thing to do is to continue to use diapers and set up a routine of using the potty often and help your child make a habit of going often until they can recognize those signals and feelings.
Using public toilets can create another problem. They are loud and not always kid friendly! If your child is bothered by the auto flushing toilets, have some sticky notes with you and cover the “eye” so that it won't flush by surprise. Have some ear plugs or noise canceling headphones with you. I like these. I am also a bit of a germaphobe, so I always had these with me. Washing hands can also be a hassle in public restrooms with little ones, I usually used this natural hand sanitize, it's alcohol free and plant based.
I understand not every child will potty train easily. Remember that for most kids, they are totally fine using diapers, they have to decide that they want to use the toilet. Please try not to stress about it. By starting early you can get most kids (and by most I'm talking about kids without medical or mental health issues) potty trained before age 3. Many kids with minor issues can still be potty trained just like their same aged peers.
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What part of potty training do you struggle with the most?