The showdown between nature and nurture. Let's start off honestly, potty training is no one's favorite.
Potty training...it is no one's favorite part of parenthood. At best, it seems like a mountain to be climbed; at worst, it's a long slow slog through ruined pairs of underwear that can feel like repeatedly running headfirst into a brick wall if your child is less inclined towards potty-ing. Nothing quite adds stress to an already stressed parent like looking down to find that one's child has gone in their underwear and that they will need to be immediately
changed before it goes anywhere else. But why is potty training so hard? It seems like it would make sense. After all, these kids could not really want to have something on their bottoms.
Well, the main reason potty training is so hard is because, just like with parents, potty training is not a child's favorite thing. Imagine being at work and being really in the zone. Then someone pulls you away and tells you to go sit on the toilet and make your body do what it is going to do anyway. This is the life of a potty training child. Add to this the fact that many children have not decided that they want to potty train when they start or, alternatively, they had already shown interest and their interest was not met with equal fervor. Potty training is a balancing act, a game where the child and parent’s interest must align just so for the process to achieve success. It can seem impossible, especially when your child has just been sitting on the potty for a half hour and then decides to pee all over the floor ten minutes later. But, I promise, it will happen and maybe, just maybe these tips can help.
Potty Training... Some Basic Tips
Introduce your potty.
It seems like a silly thing to say, but children can be afraid of a great many things, including a potty. Some children worry about falling into a potty and therefore, have trouble sitting on the potty until it is introduced. Parents should bring children to the potty and let them sit on it before they even expect them to go. For many children, it may help to have a small potty in the bathroom with mom or dad, brother or sister. It can be fun for a child to sit on the little potty while someone is on the bigger potty so they learn what happens. Also, books about potty training, like Potty Train or Everyone Poops can be helpful with keeping children interested in the potty while they sit.
Get Your Child Jazzed.
Remember, when your child shows curiosity about the potty, do not squander the opportunity. You need to be just as jazzed as your child is about them going on the potty or I promise, their enthusiasm will wane and it will be three times as hard to get it back again. Supporting enthusiasm may look like different things for every child; some children will demand big kid underwear while others will want a potty seat. Some will want external rewards while others will potty train for only themselves. Whatever they choose, stay consistent. The worst thing for potty training is inconsistency. If you start a sticker chart with your child and it works, you are stuck with that sticker chart. Kids do not forget and they will hold you to every sticker you miss.
Every child has them at some point or another and it will probably happen at the worst possible time. The only thing you can do as a parent is be prepared long after you think it might be necessary. Even if your child has not had one for months, keep a pair of clothes and some wipes in the car. Also, poop is often harder for kids to manage than pee is. A child might feel like they need to poop for an hour or more before it comes out. If your child is asking to sit or is displaying cues such as going more often, sitting without going, wiggling a bit more often, or even holding their stomach and trying to hide, they may just need to poop and often that means you might need to sit them more often.
Every child is different.
Some children are easy to potty train; if you have one of those who wakes up one day and decides it is time and then just does it, good for you. You are extremely lucky. For many though, the process is not quite so smooth. Many parents and child care workers will swear by just putting a child in underwear (or naked if they are at home) and just letting a child see what happens when they go. For some children, this is indeed the key and, after a short bit of this, those children decide to go on the potty rather than soiling their underwear (this is especially effective if the child is excited about the underwear and has picked it out himself or herself). Others will pee all day and care very little for the mess. With those children, it is often more beneficial to make potty training a routine. They might have to sit every twenty minutes to half hour at the start, with a visual timer telling them when to go, but eventually, most often, they will eventually get there. For boy parents, sometimes it helps to teach them to stand up first and try to aim for targets such as cereal in the toilet.
To yourself and your child. You are not a bad parent just because it is taking your child awhile to potty train. Your child is not a bad child if they just have a harder time. You both are attempting to control a natural rhythm and that is not easy. Potty training is not exactly a graceful process. It can be icky and dirty and frustrating, but you and your child are going through it together and they need to know, more than anything, that you are there for them. So, love them and show some love for yourself. It will happen.
You got this, and so does your child! Potty Training may not be everyone's favorite, but you'll get there. Celebrate once you do, because you and your child accomplished something big.
Written by Elizabeth Krochka