22 December 2009

Going potty

The key to successful potty training is to get the timing right. Here are simple steps to take for success.

The key to successful potty training is to get the timing right. Don't feel pressurised by other parents or feel inadequate if your child lags behind his or her peers.

Most children aren't ready to begin potty training before two years and girls are usually ready earlier than boys. It takes about three months to potty train a child and 98% are toilet trained successfully by the time they are three years old.

The right time to start depends far more on development than on age. If a child is not developmentally ready, potty training is bound to fail. Toddlers must be able to understand simple one- or two-step instructions, be physically capable of sitting down onto the potty and then stand back up again, be able to sit still for a minute or two, and be capable of removing his or her pants on their own. Your child should be aware be aware of elimination: that he has just had a bowel movement, then that he's having one, followed by awareness that he's about to have one.

Simple steps for success

  • When your child is urinating or has a bowel movement, tell him what he is doing in a matter-of-fact way or by praising him. Never make any negative comments, such as "phew, what a smelly nappy". Always use the same terms of phrases, such as "making a wee" or "making a poo".
  • Kids are great imitators. Make your child used to the idea of using the toilet by taking him to the toilet when you go. Explain what is happening and demonstrate how flushing works. If you have older children who would enjoy giving such demonstrations, involve them in the training as well.
  •  Start emptying the contents of a dirty nappy into the toilet and show your child what happens when you flush (unless the flushing sounds frighten him).
  • Start training when the child is most cooperative and after the child is developmentally ready to be trained.
  • Coordinate potty training with all other caregivers, such as creche staff and babysitters.
  • Purchase a potty that fits on the regular seat or a separate children's potty. Pull-ups are not necessarily helpful: apart from being expensive, toddlers still associate them with nappies. A disposable nappy worn with undies over it, might be a better option. If you prefer pull-ups, use paper ones if your child is used to cotton nappies, and vice versa.
  • Don't remind the child too often to use the potty. Your child will only feel pressurised and may become resistant.
  • Encourage practise runs to the potty after a nap or a meal.
  • Praise your child's efforts and cooperation, whether the attempt was successful or not.

 (Health24, December 2009)


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