How To Potty Train Your Little One Without Stress?
Learning to use the toilet is a MAJOR and IMPORTANT step for the little ones in many ways. First of all, they’ve gained control of their bowel function, which was previously more of an involuntary action. Secondly, this is one of their first major responsibilities and their first step towards building their sense of cleanliness, order and obligation.
The success of toilet training therefore is very important in the development of the child’s pride and confidence. Having said that, there is no need to hurry into toilet training as there is always a right time for it. After all, it is normal for the kids to take time to develop control of their muscles.
Is Your Child Ready To Be Potty-Trained?
Look out for these signs of readiness in your child when they are between 18 and 24 months:
- They become aware of their own bowel movement. They may stop what they are doing or change their facial expression momentarily, and may act uncomfortably after that.
- They may make signs or sounds to you to indicate that the diaper is soiled and as if they would like it to be cleaned.
NOTE: However, it may take more time and positive encouragement for the kid to become sufficiently aware of the impending bowel movement before it has been passed to be able to notify you in time to be helped to the toilet.
- Keen to imitate activities of parents or older siblings.
- Take great pride in learning skills to carry out activities independently.
- Gained an idea of certain things belong to certain places, e.g. they know that their clothes or toys need to be kept away at certain places
- Able to keep diaper dry for more than an hour
- Displayed interest in going to the toilet.
How To Get Started With Potty Training?
Prep-Work before you start the actual potty training program:
- As your child may still be too young to be talking well, pick a sign or sound for peeing and pooping so that you and your child can communicate.
- Potty chair or child’s seat on the adult toilet?
I tend to prefer a potty chair as the child have a greater sense of belonging to a small piece of furniture of their own and they tend to feel more secure when they can touch the ground with their feet.
- Let your child get used to the potty chair at least a week before starting the training.
Introduce the potty chair to your child casually as a small furniture of his/her own. Show them how they can sit on the potty chair (with their clothes on first), just like how you sit on the toilet (demonstrate with clothes on). Suggest casually, without being forceful, that they can try now or later.
TIP: Do not strip them off their diapers and put them on the potty chair directly. That would be too strange and sudden. Always introduce 1 new idea at a time.
- Once the kids have grown familiar and accustomed with the potty chair, introduce the next new idea – pooping and peeing there.
If there are older kids around, they can serve as role models to demonstrate in the toilet and you can explain that the elder kids, daddy and mummy have their own seat in the toilet and the little ones have their own potty seat that they will one day poop and pee there, just like the adults/big kids.
If there are no older siblings or older kids friends around, parents can do the demonstration but child psychiatrists advise that it is better not to uncover the genital regions in front of the children.
- Observe your child’s cues when you think they are about to poop or pee in their diaper and check on their diapers to confirm.
Every child has a different expression/behaviour when they have a bowel movement – some may display a stern look, pause in what they do, go into a crouching position or go to a remote corner. Learning their cues can help you in the potty training as you can anticipate and teach your little ones.
- Teach your little ones to observe their body and lead them to the potty.
When you see those potty cues in your little one, tell them what you observe and ask them questions, e.g. “I see that you are … Is it time to poop/pee pee?”
Lead them to the potty chair and take off the diaper and suggest they try it. If they resist, don’t force them. Continue to try once a day. Some day when the pee or poop goes into the potty, it will greatly help them understand.
When they peed or pooped in their diaper, take it off and lead them to the seat to sit down and show them the poop in the diaper explaining that daddy/mummy/older siblings sit on their seat and the little ones have their own seat that that they will one day poop and pee there, just like the daddy/mummy/big kids.
When they are showing more interest and cooperation in peeing or pooping into the potty chair, take them to the seat few times a day especially when they display readiness to poop or pee. If they manage to notify you beforehand to be helped to the potty or if they managed to keep dry for few hours, remember to praise and reward them.
- Getting them to practice pulling up clothes
After you are done with changing their diapers, encourage them to help you pull up their shorts. They may not be able to do so due to lack of coordination/motor skills. But talk through the actions while you help them do it themselves.
Finally, it is time to get started with the actual potty training when you think they are ready for the next step – going to the potty by themselves and doing away without diapers.
A week before starting the potty training, start talking to the little ones about not needing diapers and wearing underwear just like daddy/mummy or the older siblings.
You can even bring them to the stores to buy their first pairs of underwear. Make it exciting. However, also make known to them that if they want to wear the underwear, they will have to use the potty.
Download And Print Out The Princess Version Here (A4 size)
Download And Print Out The Toy Train Version Here (A4 size)
(You Can Also Right Click and Save the Linked File)
The Actual Potty Training Begins…
Choose a long weekend, preferably 3-4 days so that you can focus your attention and reinforce the actions/experience into the little ones. Leave them naked waist-down and let them play. You will be glad to know that kids of this age is still excited about being naked.
But you might want to restrict the play area in case of accidents, which will certainly happen. Feed them with juices and place the potty near them, explaining that they can go to the potty whenever they need. If they are not resistant, remind them to go to the potty to pee. Remember to use a happy tone, and never be forceful.
If accidents happen and they start to pee on the floor, run to them quickly and swiftly bring them to the potty so that they can see that they have peed into the potty. Each time the kids avoid peeing on the floor, clap, cheer, perform a celebratory dance or song, or give a reward.
The next day, continue with the activities as per the first day. But bring the kids out for an hour. Get them to use the potty before heading out so that they will associate going out with using the potty first. The aim is to stay dry until you get back home. Dress them in loose fitting clothes without diapers, but bring along some spare clothes.
Repeat the same for the 3rd day but this time go out for a longer period of time, say 2 hours. By the end of the 3 days, the little ones should be able to go to the potty themselves or at least notify you. However, the training doesn’t stop here. It is important that you stay consistent for the months ahead.
Some parents might find potty training an extremely stressful process. But it shouldn’t be. If your kids are resisting, do not force them. Instead, allow a longer time for them to be ready.
- Potty training should be led by the child. The time will come when they want to gain control of their own free will because they want to feel grown up.
- They are most easily trained of their free will when there are no coercion involved. And it has been proven to have least likelihood of later soiling or bed-wetting problems.
- Make use of tactful suggestion, praises and rewards
- Do not show disapproval of failure
- There should be no pressure to sit down on the seat. The child should not be forced to sit on the potty chair even if he wants to get up immediately.
- Always celebrate success, no matter how small. Pick a reward that motivates your child, it could be hugs, praises etc. You may also reward with things like M&Ms or stickers for each successful potty trip or create and hang a potty reward chart to motivate the little ones and encourage them to take ownership of the potty training process. You can even shop for the big potty reward (to be awarded when they complete their potty chart) together to make it exciting. But remember to emphasize on the potty, and not the reward.