ARE you going potty about potty training?
It’s a milestone parents are keen to crack, but often ends up being one of the trickiest for many.
And the whole thing’s not helped by the plethora of information out there that, quite frankly, is a load of poop!
So, let’s ‘flush’ away the myths and stick to the facts, and hopefully make it easy for your little one to be ‘footloose and nappy free’.
Myth #1 – There is an ‘optimum’ age when your child will be ready
You might have read that your child needs to be exactly two years and three-months-old (or similar) meaning you’re now panicking that your two years and four-month-old child is not showing any sign of being ready – so will therefore stay in nappies for the rest of their life.
The good news is that like all other milestones, such as sitting up, crawling and walking, your child will be ready when they are ready. Usually this is somewhere between age two and three, but it can happen before or after.
They need to be not only physically ready but also emotionally, which usually takes longer.
Signs to look out for: They have dry nappies for longer lengths of time – perhaps at nap time, they tell you that they want to use the potty/toilet, they’re confident and independent in other areas.
To help your child be more emotionally ready, you can encourage them to be independent with feeding themselves or getting dressed.
It is helpful if they can pull their underwear up and down independently, and make sure that they are aware of the toilet and what it does – a ‘positive’ to you being unable to go the toilet alone during the toddler years!
Myth #2 – Boys are harder to train than girls
A statement, likely told to you by your granny, which I have heard many times over the course of my twenty-plus-years career.
I can tell you though, gender does not make a jot of difference – and I have potty trained A LOT of kids.
Just like other milestones, it is not true one sex is better than the other, and this way of thinking should stay stuck in the past. If you want to empower your boy, hold him to the same standard you would his sister.
Myth #3 – It is better to train in the summer than the winter
Worries about carpet stains might make binning the nappies in summer seem preferable. But if your child is actually ready, there are likely to be very few ‘accidents’ – whether it’s summer or winter time.
Parents need to be prepared with stain remover and plenty of underwear.
If your child’s ready now, it’s a bad idea to hold them back a number of months – because they might be reluctant when you decide it’s time.
Equally, trying to get them trained before they are ready will make the process harder.
HOW TO POTTY TRAIN
Before you start:
- Keep a potty in the bathroom and use teddies or dolls to role play going to the toilet
- Read stories that have characters in who use the potty or toilet
- Let your child flush the toilet after you have been – this can be a factor in not wanting to use the toilet, so make it a normal part of life, along with washing hands afterwards.
- Encourage independence from early on
- Don’t start when a major life event is happening – such as a new baby, moving house or starting nursery. Allow things to settle first before starting.
- Allow your child to choose their underwear – having choice = feeling in control
- Put them straight into knickers/pants – if they are ready, there will be minimal accidents and pull-ups or nappies can cause confusion.
- Don’t punish them for having an ‘accident’ – instead, gently remind them of what they should do and reassure them.
- Look at their cues for needing to go – are they doing the ‘wee -wee dance’? and gently guide them to the potty
- Remember to give out lots of praise – it is a big skill to master and praise will help to stop regression
Myth #4 – They should be dry at night
It can take children up to the age of eight to be dry at night, so you shouldn’t let a wet nappy while they’re sleeping hold your child back.
Restricting drinks in the hour before bed can help, so that’s a good habit to get into pre potty training – particularly if your little one still enjoys a glass of milk at night.
Some children stay dry the whole night, then use the nappy as soon as they wake.
This can be due to laziness but can also be because they don’t want to disturb you by using the toilet, so make sure they know that getting out of bed for the toilet is perfectly acceptable.
If your child is over eight and still not dry at night, visit your GP for help and advice.
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Myth #5 – They should use the toilet and not the potty
Some children, particularly those with older siblings, prefer to use the toilet from the start.
This doesn’t need to be discouraged, but having a toilet seat is useful until they can balance – a skill that takes some practice!
If your little one is reluctant to use the toilet, of course the potty is fine to use.
I would suggest keeping it in the bathroom though, rather than teaching your kids it’s fine to go in any room of the house, and getting your little one to help flush their wees and poos down the toilet.
This can help disperse any anxiety around using the toilet which, of course, they will eventually need to do.
Kirsty Ketley is a mum-of-two, parent consultant and early years/parenting expert, with more than 20 years' experience working with families.
The 40-year-old, from Surrey, is mum to Ella, eight, and Leo, four.
You can buy her potting training eBook here.
Meanwhile, a woman started potty training my twins at three weeks old, she would hold them over the sink and hope for the best.
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