My wee one has decided she's not wearing nappies any more. Her older playmate potty trained and she was going to too. So that wee visual and motivation did the trick. But it doesn't always go that way, Ive helped to potty train a few wee ones in my time both boys and girls and there are few hard and fast rules to making the transition as stress free as possible.
The first is there is no age on this , there is no perfect time, or you must have it done by ..... do not feel pressure from outside sources that you must do this or that. Most kids make the mental switch in their heads anywhere around two years to three and half on average. If your child goes before or after that's great.
The second rule is just as you must not be pressured , neither must they. This is really important as if you push when they are not ready it can lead to anxiety for you both. Physical problems with holding and bladder infections , etc. Being scared of the toilet. It's not worth it. It can take weeks or months to overcome.
Here is how I have found you can test the waters ( pun intended ) and then step back or forward depending on what your wee ( yes another pun intended ) one feels or wants to do if you think they maybe ready to move on from nappies.
Bring them to the toilet with you ...
Like we have a choice.... but get them engaged in what you are doing. Talk about what you're doing, how it feels so they can relate... talk about your body and theirs, where things come from. For boys get them to go in with Dad. I remember one father of one of my jobs saying, why does he need to come with me.... I replied that he doesn't pay me enough to show him how to stand up to pee, he needs a visual! In these moments decide what your language choices are going to be. Wee, pee, poo, etc. Body part names and stick to them so you can have an open conversation. Once curiosity kicks in , you will know when they are ready. They will ask questions, want to try, or in my wee ones case fling off nappy declaring no more Mummy ! You will know the signs and you can act accordingly when THEY are good to go.
Buy a potty or / and a toilet seat.
Let them play as such with the concept. Involve them in buying a potty, have it just sitting around, practise sitting on it, wearing it on their heads if they want. Anything to get comfortable with it. I have both a potty and a small toilet seat in both her bathrooms. I have found she likes to pee on the toilet but poo on the potty ( yes I wish it was the other way round !) But the most comfortable and correct way to poo is in a squat position. It helps to relax the rectal muscles and allows a smooth passing. So it is a pain free and enjoyable experience. So she prefers it. Plus she likes to inspect what she has done and she is very proud !! Another aspect is underwear, if there is a current favourite character, colour, style invest in getting lots of pairs. Note from the wise, get cheap and nasty to being with as accidents happen and they will be washed to death and or thrown out in some cases. I got my daughter in the local super market aisle and let her go to town on choosing her knickers. She felt part of the process, a semblance of control ( which is the key ) in her body and excited to wear Peppa knickers like a big girl. Which leads me on to getting them started and understanding the process. I find running the tap at a trickle ( makes any one want to go ) or if you have a small bottle of warm / room temp water you can run down their bum to simulate peeing when they are 'trying out' the potty, it helps with the connections of sensations and actions of controlling or releasing their bladder.
To begin with , every 15 to 20 mins ask and or just pop them on the potty. You'll need a few days at home where you can control the environment. And changes of costume that will occur throughout the day. Once they actually pee on the potty and they make the connection between the feeling of weeing and seeing, hearing, feeling it coming out. You will be on the right path. This is where you just keep going. It will take days of practise to get perfect... weeing usually comes first then they will poop as well as they build confidence. Let them run around with no bottom halves on with weather or central heating allows. Far easier for access as the need to wee will come upon them quickly while they are learning to identify the mental alert. Or with just knickers on. You can get training pants that are thicker so can absorb the first start of weeing till they learn to hold it. There are good training nappy pants too but I prefer to go old school and let them have nothing on/ thin knickers on. No faffing with pull ups etc and I feel the discomfort of a wetness on their legs helps to encourage them to want to do it in the potty. Toilet training is first mental then physical. We were all potty trained earlier, back when we were little as nappies weren't as absorbent and or were far more uncomfortable giving us the desire to get out of them quicker. Something to be said of the old Terry cloths !
I have found another part of the process is mental bribery and physical reward. A visual aid to help them take charge of their bodies. I have gone with chocolate. In every job I have had and with my own wee ones, we have a potty treat jar that I have had the kids fill with what ever they want. I let my wee one choose her sweets at the same time as her knickers and we filled the jar with brightly coloured smarties so she could see every time she sat on the potty she got to choose one. Then when she actually wee'ed she got two, pooed three! That was the first few days as she got pretty savvy and would 'sit' a lot on the potty. Would have end up diabetic by the end of the week at this rate so it was a sliding scale as such. Once she got the hang of it, the potty and the treat system , it was stated dry all morning , or all afternoon, then all day ,then went to the loo by herself... so on and so forth so the treats got less and the training got more.
Song and dance.
Not only do I give her a treat as such, I also make a song and dance about her going. Telling her I'm really proud of her, how great she is doing. We sometimes are in there together and she has told me how proud she is of me. So I use this natural mimic and swelling sense of self to help her with other parts of the process, wiping and hand washing. I also make sure that I don't draw attention to when she doesn't quite get it right and accidents happen. Mostly she gets distracted and the feeling get ignored and before she can say anything or get to the loo, its happened. Always smile , say never mind , next time, have a large selection of changes of clothes and move on quickly. Also over the weeks just when you think they really have got the hang it , there will be a regression. Nothing to worry about. It is actually a normal part of mental development. Their brains have learnt the new skill and then they move on as the pattern of behaviour becomes natural and they don't have to think about it , concentrate. They recognise the physical signs and act accordingly. Getting you to take them to the loo or taking themselves off. So when they move on and start to learn a new skill , this old one gets a 'pin in it' and accidents happen. It's like they have forgotten their Jedi training and you're beginning from scratch. Which for a few days you are ... so don't pull out your hair, just get back to basics and the behaviour will kick back in I promise. Momentary blip. But you mustn't shame or scold them. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy. My wee one peed twice ( once accidentally and once on purpose) on the couch over the weekend , then again in her car seat. Neither time did she pipe up to say she had to go, little minx. So I changed her, told her we don't pee on the couch and left it at that , but made a huge deal of when she was back on the toilet the next bodily function! So she associates feeling happy and excited through praise, when she gets the combinations of sensations and actions right.
Over the years , I have a few tricks up my sleeve for helping to make potty training exciting. Not only do I use the treats and positive praise but also I allow my kids both boys and girls to go in different places. I know this is controversial as such , but I don't have time to whip out the porta potty for her declaration 'I need a wee' when we are driving ... I do when she needs a poo though ! So I let her pee by the side of the car. Or behind a tree as there are never any bloody toilets around and or open when needs must. She likes the idea. For boys learning to stand up, peeing against a tree seems to be a wonderful thing to do and helps to engage them. Guess its the thrill. When we are in the house, I have toilet stickers that change colour when you pee on them and don't flush away. For boys I have used ping pong balls in the bowl, with a face on them to help with aim or a jam jar for them to practise standing up to pee into . Saves on spills. When they are having a long bowel movement, I have books and or the iPad in with her so she can relax and let her body do its thing. I have different heights of steps and stools for her to be able to rest her feet and get to the flush or the tap or toilet roll. I was a cloth bum Mum so we are reusing her cloth wipes for number twos. Im teaching her with a sticker on the wall of how much paper she needs to use for a number one as no one needs wads of it. A friend has a mini urinal on the wall for her son that has a wheel that spins if he pees in to it correctly. There are many great novelty training aids on the market from toilet ladders to small toilets that have a battery operated flush on it to simulate the big toilet. When we ( my wee one and I) are faced with a big toilet and no junior seat , I hold her so she doesn't fall in. This can be a worry for small bums and I have had children that are very frightened of the large hole and loud water.... don't mention the hand dryer ! So I use the time to sneak in a cuddle with her. She can relax and do her business while I reassure her next to her ear and she can feel me holding her securely.
My wee one is in pull ups at night and seems to be staying dry but I find that going dry through the night definitely takes longer and it will happen in her own time. But I do have ways of encouraging her. One, I cut down the liquids next to her bed. I limit the amount she drinks before bed... say nothing half hour before bed time routine. I get her to wee before we put on pjs and then just before I go to bed, I dream wee her. This is especially useful when they are moving away from pull ups when they are older. Dream weeing them is the same concept as dream feeding when they were little. You are helping them to go through the night. Just as you were filling them up , you are now emptying them. I turn off all the lights, except a small night light in the bath room, carry her or if they are bigger, heavier, older, walk them drowsy to the toilet. Pull pants down and pop them on ( boy or girl ) the loo seat. I then put the tap on to a trickle. Just like us, if we hear running water we instantly need to go... it works wonders of letting the body do its thing without waking them fully. Then carry her back to bed. Her bladder empty and safe to stay dry through the night.
Another advantage to potty training is it helps us to keep an eye on their gut health. With nappies whisking away the urine and the poos getting squashed as such, when they go in to a receptacle, we can inspect it quickly. If their poo is hard or different colours etc we can see they need a bit of this or that in their diet. When their wee is very yellow or pungent , they may need more water / drinks or a change in diet. This is all very helpful when our little ones start playing with others and in preschools etc where nasties get transferred around from one to another. A good example of this is worms , by keeping an eye on their poos we can detect anything out of the ordinary quickly. They will be itching their bottoms and we can find the evidence in the faeces . It's just one of those childhood things like nits. There is good medications that the whole family take in the form of a drink and you'll all be fine. Rule of thumb for wee ones potty is normal smelling and coloured urine and soft serve consistence for poos.
Potty training is a big milestone in your wee ones life. A step in the direction of independence and away from baby / toddler hood. The sense of achievement that they get when they conquer it is wonderful and we as parents must do our best to make it as stress free for them and ourselves as we can. It's a sad and happy time. No more nappies, thank goodness but that they are growing up. Make it exciting , open and fun is the key. As my wee woman likes to point out everyone poos !