Bribery, coaxing, nothing works! My child has put me in a flat spin over potty training. How do I make it a success?
There’s one very simple rule when it comes to making a success of potty training your child: Don’t Panic! Very, very few children have major problems with this stage of their development, and given a little patience and common sense qualities which all mums have, you shouldn’t experience any real trouble either.
The first question is when to start. Don’t believe your great-aunt when she says her children were out of nappies by the age of six months. She probably spent all her time cleaning up puddles.
Child development experts say children can’t be toilet-trained until they’re physically ready. They don’t usually make the connection between what they feel, and what actually happens in their nether regions, until they’re well past the middle of their second year. Experts also say that the longer you leave it, the more successful you’re likely to be. But few of us want to put up with dirty nappies for any longer than we have to, so you’ll probably want to start at around the beginning of your child’s second year at the latest. Even before that you could start introducing your child to a potty, and suggest that he or she might want to use it.
The secret is not to make it a big deal. If you put pressure on your child to perform, then you’re likely to have no success at all. Anxiety will make your child want to avoid the whole subject, and if you get worked up about it, you could find yourself in a battle of wills. Don’t forget that this stage is The Terrible Twos. A child of this age is very easily provoked into temper tantrums.
Remember, too, that toilet-training is usually a gradual process that can take months, perhaps even a year or so, to complete. You’ll hear people say they’ve done it in a day, but most of us help our children to achieve full training over a period of time. So relax and don’t get either of you worked up about it. Give your child plenty of praise for successful uses of the potty, and take a never mind, better luck next time approach to any failures that may occur.
Accept that there will be plenty of accidents and that there will be times when you won’t seem to be making very much progress. Your child may well regress to nappies if he or she is feeling ill or under pressure for a particular reason.
In fact, it’s probably a good idea not to begin potty training if anything else unsettling is happening in your life, such as the arrival of a new baby or moving to a new house. Small children can only cope with just so much change in their lives at any one time so try not to overtax them!
You’ll find that it’s easier to get your child clean than dry. That’s simply, because most children are better at holding on to a bowel motion. It’s also much easier to train a child to be clean and dry during the day than at night. Indeed, it may be quite some time after your child is fully clean and dry in the day before he or she is ready to go through the night without a nappy. Girls are also usually trained more quickly than boys. If you do find that you’re making no progress at all at any time of the day, it might be worth going back to nappies for a while.
Another tactic is to get daddy to take over the training. That can work wonders! And if you feel you need help and advice, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. They’re trained to help you, and may be able to make some very positive suggestions you haven’t tried. And remember the vast majority of children are both clean and dry well before they start school. So don’t panic!