POTTY training a toddler is not an easy task. It can be terribly frustrating for both parent and toddler, but when it is achieved, it is incredibly rewarding for them both. The toddler feels clean, confident and independent, while the parent saves a pretty penny by not purchasing diapers anymore.
Though potty training at any age or stage will require some effort, it will be a futile uphill climb if the child is not ready. Paediatrician Dr Anona Griffith recommends that you ensure that your child displays the following signs before you try to potty train them.
While every child develops at their own pace, most children will be ready for potty training between 18 months and three years old. It may be earlier or later for some children, so it is important to check for other sign of readiness, too. The right age to potty train is determined by the readiness and developmental signs that a child displays.
You cannot successfully toilet train a child who has not yet learned to control their bladder or body functions. A child who defecates at a predictable time each day and can go at least two hours without getting a diaper wet is a good candidate. Also ensure that the child is coordinated enough to walk steadily, remove pants/diaper, and move from a standing to a sitting position.
The easiest child to toilet train is one who wants to be trained. Some signs of willingness include being uncomfortable in a wet or soiled diaper, is excited to sit on the potty or toilet (training seat) for at least five minutes at a time, and is curious and interested when other family members use the toilet. The toddler may also imitate when other family members use the bathroom.
For potty training to be effective, you must be able to understand your child. More importantly, they must understand what's happening. Some positive signs to look out for are signalling to you that they are urinating or passing stool, squatting in a corner for privacy, understanding simple commands such as “sit”, “come here” and “run”, enjoys being rewarded, and understands when you are disappointed.
•Children usually learn to control their bowels before their bladder, so you might want to start with 'poo training', and then proceed to 'pee training' once this milestone is accomplished.
•Daytime bladder control happens before night-time bladder control. It can take years before your little one stays dry while asleep, so don't toss those diapers out just yet!
•Introduce the child to the potty for some time before you begin potty training. Let them get familiar with sitting on it before you try to train.
•Training is best done after a meal, at a time of day when the home is calm. In the morning, for example, might not be the best time if everyone is rushing to get ready to leave. The child may feel as if they are missing out by sitting still on the potty.
•Don't potty train when there is a major change in the child's life, such as a new school, a new home, or anything that may cause emotional upheaval.
•The child's diet is important. Ensure that the child is getting a lot of fibre, fresh fruits and water, as constipation may be painful for the child and cause them to be reluctant pass stool, even when there is the urge.
•If your child resists the potty, don't push it. It's best to wait a few months then try again when they are more receptive.
•Accidents happen. Even a well-trained child will still not always make it to the toilet in time. Don't punish the child for these accidents, as it may break their confidence.
•Be aware of your child. Every child is different, and develops on their own timeline. Potty training is a period of transition, and your support is needed.