Potty training. These two words carry a lot of emotions for providers and children! Learning to consistently use the potty is a big developmental milestone for most children and one that requires A LOT of patience.
The biggest part of potty training lies in deciding IF the child is ready to begin. Here are a few clues that children often give that now might be a good time to try potty training.
- The child stays dry for 2 hours at a time or after naptime
- The child is aware when he/she is having a bowel movement or wetting his/her diaper. Sometimes children will find a “special place” to go when they are having a bowel movement. This might be under a table or behind a chair. In general, children cannot begin the potty training process until they are aware what is happening to their bodies when they need to use the bathroom.
- The child imitates older children using the bathroom and can follow basic directions.
- And here is the biggest clue…the child WANTS to use the potty! He/She may also feel uncomfortable in a wet or dirty diaper and want to be changed immediately. The child may also want to wear “big boy/girl pants” and be like the older children.
So, what do you do when you think a child is ready to start using the potty? The first thing is to take a big breath and relax! Using the potty is a developmental process that will take time and patience. Accept that there will be many “accidents” and this is normal. Very few children make the decision to start using the potty and then do so without any accidents or setbacks. Think of potty training just like learning to walk….there will be a lot of falls and spills before the child is totally proficient!
There are many different philosophies on how to potty train children. The key is to pick the method that works best for the child. You may need to try more than one method before you find the one that works. More importantly, here are some things to remember during the potty training process:
- This is NOT a race! There is no trophy or medal at the end for being “potty proficient.” Plus, how many teenagers do you know that wear diapers?
- Potty training should be an emotionless process. This is a time to keep anger and impatience stashed far, far away and put patience and understanding at the forefront.
- Toddlers and twos are all about trying to gain control over their world and this includes YOU! The key is to remember that if children sense your desire for them to use the potty, they may choose not to as a way of gaining control. Children are very perceptive. The last thing you want to do is make potty training a power struggle!
So…as you approach potty training with the children in your program, grab your patience and practice your deep breathing. And just keep telling yourself that learning to use the potty is a developmental process just like learning to walk or talk!