A Mothers Ramblings: Potty Training Tips

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Potty Training Tips

Potty Training Tips are not that hard to come by. Everyone has an idea about what the best way to potty train a child and it is up to you as a parent (or carer) to decide which methods and tips suit you and your child. Of course you might be wondering why on earth I am telling you how to do something that I have no experience in, but in my family potty training is something that has been done time and time again! My Mum was a childminder for most of my life and so I have helped to potty train an awful lot of children and of course my own two darlings!

I get excited about potty training. Its not because of the lack of nappies, or the not having to clean a poop smeared bum, (sorry to tell you, but you have to deal with this for a bit longer as even when your little one is going on the toilet you will be required to wipe their bum a few times!) but it is because of the new independence that it brings to the child.

So independent they are going to events and getting their own goody bags!
Some people that I know don't believe in pottys, they feel that there is no point in getting a child to learn to go on a potty and then a few weeks/months later having to train them to use a toilet. Whilst I can see what they are saying is true, it does seem like double the work I also don't agree. I see a potty as something that is portable and therefore just like a nappy. Its a lot quicker to grab the potty from one end of the room than it is to run with the child to the bathroom IMHO!

The most important of all the tips that have been passed down to my sister and I, is to let the child decide when they are ready. It is no good trying to potty train a child who isn't ready, all you will do is cause the relatively easy process to become a hard drawn out one.

This can be tricky though. Baby Boy for example has been ready to potty train for a good few months now. He has good visual clues as to when he is about to go and would tell us just before he was about to go and when he was going but actually getting him to perform on the potty? Well that was a different story. A few months back we started potty training for the first time with Baby Boy. I cleared my calender for the week and was ready with pants and stickers and sweets and everything else that could possibly be needed (read carpet cleaner!) and what happened? The first day went great, but on the second day he refused to perform. The third day was a complete disaster, as was the fourth and so on the fifth day we went back to nappies. He just wasn't ready for it.

Padding for the bottom makes bouncing more fun!
In the last couple of weeks however, there has been a definite movement (ha!) towards telling us in advance that he needs the toilet and an interest in getting his own clothes removed in order to go on the potty. And we have been successful during the day with the potty being accessible and several reminders during the day of "Wee wee's on the potty not on Mama's sofa or carpet!". Getting Baby Boy to poo however was tricky... until Bank Holiday Monday.

Baby Boy had been wearing trousers and pants all day and he had been on the potty for a wee several times but it was late in the afternoon when he shouted;

"WEE!"

and ran for the potty.

Daddy was closest to him and so he helped to pull down Baby Boys trousers and position him on the potty. The thing I have found with little boys is that the aim is sometimes not as precise as one would like it to be! It was soon clear from Baby Boys face that Baby Boy wasn't intending to pee. This was a poo and from the grimace it was going to be a big poo.

I would of taken a picture of the poo Baby Boy did in the potty if I had a chance, (I was so proud!) but as soon as he had finished and had his bottom wiped, he picked up the potty and marched it to the toilet with Daddy where it was flushed away to cheers of "Poo poo in the potty!" and a lot of clapping from everyone in the house. We then called Granny and Auntie and everyone else that we knew would be able to cheer down the phone about what a good job Baby Boy had done in going on the potty.

And that would be the second and third and fourth tip all in one. Be proud of every achievement and make up a song, or a cheer or a dance for when they do something great, it might be that they sit on the potty and pee, but even if they forgot to pull their underwear down it is still a big deal and needs to be celebrated! Then of course by putting the contents of the potty in the toilet, flushing and then washing their hands you are teaching good habits for the future!

Our children want to be just like us, they want to wear big girl/boy pants, they want to go on the toilet just like they have seen us do and as they want to please us, potty training is something that allows them to do all of these things! Of course we have to make sure that the toilet or potty is not thought of as something that is bad or evil. We have spent the last few months holding our nose when wiping a bum clean and saying things like;

"Poo poo yuck!"

And we have said about poo and wee being dirty and not to be touched, but now we suddenly want to celebrate these bodily functions? It's no wonder that some kids are so confused, over what we want them to do. One way we tried to overcome this was by having a potty in the house from almost day one. The potty has been something that could be seen and touched and practised being sat on.

Top Ender watching Teletubbies whilst using her potty as a seat
Baby Boy watching an advert whilst practising using the potty
It might be that in your house you go out and buy the potty together and allow your child to choose which potty will be their potty, or you choose a musical potty or a throne potty or a magic colour change potty. Just do whatever it is that you think your child will respond to best! Whilst you are out buying a potty you could also buy one of the many potty books aimed at children. We have about five of them, they are all different but have the same basic story which is a child learns to go on the potty.

Of course we have the traditional star chart too, but Baby Boy prefers to attach stickers to himself rather than to a chart. There are also a few gold medals floating around which Baby Boy is loving wearing and as a special treat we also went out and brought some fruit shoots and some chocolate. We explained these were his reward for having done his poo in a potty and he was very very pleased with his reward!

Look Mum I got a medal!
Don't feel that just because a child you know started potty training and was dry within three days and they were four months younger than your child that you and your child are doing something wrong. As you know all children are different, Top Ender wasn't comfortable not having a nappy at night for several months after she was dry during the day. It didn't matter to her that she was dry 6 out of 7 mornings, to her it was a step too far. We let her tell us when she was ready to be sans nappy at night and as such (touch wood) we have never had any wet beds!

Of course I might being a premature in saying Baby Boy is potty trained when he has only pooped on the potty twice, but he is asking to use the potty and is sitting on the potty by himself to pee (he really is sitting there right now!) and we even made two trips out without nappies (one to Tesco's and one to the Park) without accidents and I am thinking that it counts!

Lastly a quick thought about training pants. I haven't used training pants but that was only because Baby Boy was more interested in wearing Big Boy Phineas and Ferb Pants (from the Disney Store) than wearing a training nappy, but I know that some parents swear by them as being a great intermediate step and as so many training pants these days have popular cartoon characters on that children love wearing I can see this being a great way to help your child with the last step!