Le't talk about potty training
Potty training success hinges on physical, developmental and behavioral milestones, not age. Many children show signs of being ready for potty training between ages 18 and 24 months. However, others might not be ready until they're 3 years old. There's no rush. If you start too early, it might take longer to train your child.
Potty training is a big step for kids and their parents.The secret to success? Timing and patience. —
Bowel and Bladder Control:
Most children develop control over their bowel and bladder by 18 months. This skill is necessary for children to physically be able to use the toilet. How ready a child is emotionally to begin learning to use the potty depends on the individual child. Some children are ready at 18 months, and others are ready at 3. While every child is different, about 22% of children are out of diapers by 2½, and 88% of children are out of diapers by 3½. Girls tend to achieve bowel and bladder control at a slightly younger age than boys.
How long until a child is potty trained:
The average time from the start of potty training to the child achieving independent toileting skills, varies from three to six months. Make sure that you have enough time to patiently help your child every day. If others care for your child, tell them about your plans for toilet learning.
It’s important that everyone is consistent and working together.
Your Child is ready to learn to use the toilet when he or she:
- Stays dry for at least 2 hours at a time, or after naps
- Recognizes that she is urinating or having a bowel movement. For example, your child might go into another room or under the table when she has a bowel movement. This is important—if you child does not realize she is having a bowel movement, she won’t be successful at potty training.
- Is developing physical skills that are critical to potty training—the ability to walk, to pull pants up and down, steady and balanced when sitting on the toilet or potty and able to get onto/off the potty (with some help).
- Shows an interest in the potty (by watching you, copying your toilet behavior or by liking books about learning to use the potty)
- Can follow simple instructions.
- Most important, your child wants to use the potty. He may tell you that he wants to wear “big boy” underpants or learn to go potty “like Daddy does.” He may feel uncomfortable in a soiled diaper and ask to be changed or ask to use the toilet himself.
Information for this section is from: (Zero to Three, 2020)
There are some issues that can sometimes get in the way of successful potty training.
For example, when children are going through a significant change or several changes at once (see list below) it might be smart to hold off on adventures in potty training. At these times, children often feel overwhelmed and sometimes lose skills they have already learned or were making progress on, like potty training. Common situations that can cause stress and are generally not good times to start training include:
- An upcoming or recent family move
- Beginning new or changing existing child care arrangements
- Switching from crib to bed
- When you are expecting or have recently had a new baby.
- A major illness, a recent death, or some other family crisis
If your child is in the middle of potty training during a stressful time and seems to be having more accidents than usual, know that this is normal. Your child needs all of your patience and support right now. She will return to her previous level of potty training once things have gotten back to normal.
Information for this section is from: (Zero to Three, 2020)
Photo Creator and Copyright: CareyHope
Choose Words for Body Fluids, Functions and Parts.
Using the right words, such as urine, bowel movement, penis and vagina, can help avoid confusion or embarrassment. .
Avoid negative words like “dirty” or “stinky,” which can make your child feel self-conscious
Prepare the Equipment
Dress your child in clothes she can pull up and down easily.
Place a potty chair in the bathroom or, initially, wherever your child is spending most of his or her time.
Let your child watch you use the toilet or pretend to help a favorite doll or stuffed animal use the toilet.
Encourage your child to sit on the potty chair in clothes to start out, and then encourage him to sit on it for a few minutes without wearing a diaper. Make sure your child's feet rest on the floor or a stool.
For boys, it's often best to master urination sitting down, and then move to standing up after bowel training is complete.
You might dump the contents of a dirty diaper into the potty chair and toilet to show their purpose.
Have your child flush the toilet
Schedule Potty Breaks
Have your child sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes at two-hour intervals, as well as first thing in the morning and right after naps.
Watch for signs that she needs to use the toilet. Encourage your child to tell you when she needs to go. Be sure to praise her, even if she tells you after the fact.
Stay with your child and read a book together or play with a toy while he or she sits.
Allow your child to get up if he or she wants. Even if your child simply sits there, offer praise for trying — and remind your child that he or she can try again later. Bring the potty chair with you when you're away from home with your child
Get There Fast!
When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet — such as squirming, squatting or holding the genital area — respond quickly. Help your child become familiar with these signals, stop what he or she is doing, and head to the toilet. Praise your child for telling you when he or she has to go. Keep your child in loose, easy-to-remove clothing.
Teach girls to spread their legs and wipe carefully from front to back to prevent bringing germs from the rectum to the vagina or bladder.
Most will need you to wipe for them, especially after bowel movements, until preschool age.
Make sure your child washes his or her hands afterward.
Ditch the Diapers
After a couple of weeks of successful potty breaks and remaining dry during the day, your child might be ready to trade diapers for training pants or underwear. Celebrate the transition.
Let your child return to diapers if he or she is unable to remain dry.
If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn't getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break. Chances are he or she isn't ready yet. Pushing your child when he or she isn't ready can lead to a frustrating power struggle. Try again in a few months.
Accidents While Sleeping are Common
Even though your child may be clean and dry all day, it could take several more months or years for them to stay dry during naps or all night. Most children's systems don't mature enough to stay dry all night until at least age 5, 6 or even 7. Bed wetting through age 7 is considered normal and not a problem to worry about.
Possible Causes of Bedwetting
- Your child is a deep sleeper and does not awaken to the signal of a full bladder.
- Your child has not yet learned how to hold and empty urine well. (Communication between the brain and bladder may take time to develop.)
- Your child's body makes too much urine at night.
- Your child is constipated. Full bowels can put pressure on the bladder and lead to problems with holding and emptying urine well.
- Your child has a minor illness, is overly tired, or is responding to changes or stresses going on at home.
- There is a family history of bedwetting. Most children who wet the bed have at least one parent who had the same problem as a child.
- Your child's bladder is small or not developed enough to hold urine for a full night.
- Your child has an underlying medical problem.
What You Can Do
Most children wet their beds during toilet training. Even after they stay dry at night for a number of days or even weeks, they may start wetting at night again. If this happens to your child, simply go back to training pants at night and try again another time. The problem usually disappears as children get older.
If you are concerned about your child's bedwetting or your child expresses concern, talk with your child's doctor.
No amount of pressure or scolding will stop your toddler from wetting the bed until she's developmentally ready. In fact, negativity may only increase accidents (and harm your child's self-esteem to boot). So be patient and in the meantime, heed these tips:
Lower your expectations.
Most kids aren’t able to stay dry through the night until they’re 5 or older because their bladders are too small, they lack muscle control, or they sleep too soundly to sense when their bladders are full. So manage your expectations. It's completely normal for your child to be unable to hold it in all night long even after she's been potty trained.
Take steps before bedtime.
Make sure your child can easily reach the bathroom at night. For example, use a night light in the hall or in the bathroom
Tell him that if he wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to use the toilet, he can either go by himself or come get you.
Have your child use the bathroom at least once before bed. Make it part of your bed time routine.
Your child should avoid drinking fluids before bed. Children should have most of their fluids in the morning and afternoon.
Protect the bed.
Use diapers or Pull-Ups at night.
A plastic cover under the sheets protects the mattress from getting wet and smelling like urine.
Try to wake your child up to use the toilet
Wake your child 1 to 2 hours after going to sleep to help your child stay dry through the night.
Do not blame your child.
Remember that it is not your child's fault. (See "Possible Causes of bedwetting.")
Be honest with your child about what is going on.
Let your child know it's not his or her fault and that most children outgrow bedwetting.
Be sensitive to your child's feelings.
If you don't make a big issue out of bedwetting, chances are your child won't either. Also remind your child that other children wet the bed.
Let your child help.
Encourage your child to help change the wet sheets and covers. This teaches responsibility. It can also keep your child from feeling embarrassed if the rest of the family knows. However, if your child sees this as punishment, it is not recommended.
Set a no-teasing rule in your family.
Do not let family members, especially siblings, tease your child. Let them know that it's not your child's fault.
When he has stayed dry for several nights in a row, you might want to try cotton underpants or training pants.
When she does have an accident, treat the whole episode nonchalantly as you quietly change the bedding and help her get into dry jammies (easier said than done when you’re exhausted).
It’s not necessary to change a sleeping child who is wet. There is no harm in sleeping in wet PJs. Leave a towel and change of clothes in case your child does wake up. Do what is best for you and your child.
Whatever you do, don’t scold your toddler for something beyond her control.
Accidents Are Natural
Even after children have learned to use the toilet, it’s natural for them to have an “accident” once in a while. Though toilet accidents are frustrating, children manage better when their parents are patient and remind them of their successes rather than making them feel bad when they’ve wet or soiled their pants.
There may be times, like when they’re sick or have a cold, that children will lapse into bedwetting. They have less control of their bladders when they aren’t well or when they’re upset about changes in their lives (like the arrival of a new baby in the family, a move from one home to another, or other stresses)
Even though toilet accidents are frustrating, children manage better when their parents are patient and remind them of their successes rather than making them feel bad when they’ve wet or soiled their pants. Children really do want to please their parents, and they like the feeling of “growing up.” - Fred Rogers
Dealing with Toilet Accidents
Even though it's natural for parents to feel upset about accidents, it's important to try to be matter of fact about them. Many children already feel bad when they've had a toilet accident. It’s important not to make them feel too ashamed to try the next time.
1. Be comforting.
Your child may be upset after having an accident, so be sensitive.
You had an accident, but that's okay. Lots of kids have accidents. Maybe next time you'll make it to the potty in time."
Never scold, criticize or punish your child for having a setback.
If the child is old enough, have them help you change their clothes.
2. Remember the process varies for all kids.
While most kids are potty trained by about 3 years old, all kids develop at different rates and some might need more time. So be sure your child is old enough and has been showing signs of readiness.
Does your child seem stressed or tired? Anxious? Talk to your child about possible triggers for the setback.
Are you nervous about moving to our new house?"
Has it been different with your new brother at home?"
Then try to help her communicate her feelings about what's upsetting her. You can then offer reassurance to help build confidence.
It's normal to feel scared about your new daycare. But those feelings will go away.”
4. Go back to potty training basics.
Be clear about when and how to use the potty. Suggest regular bathroom breaks at key times, such as first thing in the morning, after meals and snacks, before a ride in the car and before bed, but try not to nag.
Do not ask the child if they have to go to the bathroom tell them it's "time to go" to the bathroom. Asking implies that the child has a choice. Unless you are OK with them saying "NO." Tell don't ask.
5. Improve your child's chances for success.
Keep the potty in a strategic place, and dress your child in easy-on, easy-off bottoms.
6. Try training pants.
If you're potty training on the earlier side, training pants can make potty training less messy and help teach wetness awareness with cute graphics that fade when they get wet. If your child is potty training later, you may want to stick with pull-ups when accidents would be inconvenient (such as when you're away from home), and use cotton underwear for at-home training sessions.
7. Offer praise every step of the way.
Help motivate your child by playing up the "big kid" angle. Focus on positive reinforcement and enthusiastic praise when she does successfully use the potty.
8. Give it a rest.
If you've ruled out other underlying causes and your child's regression lasts longer than a month, she may simply not be ready. In that case, give potty training a break for a little while. Just get back on track as soon as your child does seem to be showing signs of readiness, since consistency is essential to success.
Is It "Normal"?
YES! It is "normal" for children to stop potty training. This is also called "regression"
Children tackle potty training in phases, and it’s important for parents to realize that potty training often conflicts with other developmental milestones our toddlers are facing.
Dr. Lavin says it’s very common for children to begin potty training and then come to a “screeching halt” once they realize what it’s all about — particularly when they realize it’s important to you. (Sigh.) “If they are battling you over the toilet, they are probably also battling you on things like food, sleep, and discipline,” says Dr Lavin. “And if you are begging them to do any of these things, you are letting your child hold all of the cards.” (Krupa, 2020)
Common causes of Regression
- Change in the child-care routine—for example, a new sitter, or starting a child-care or preschool program
- The mother’s pregnancy or the birth of a new sibling
- A major illness on the part of the child or a family member
- A recent death
- Marital conflict or parents’ divorce
- An upcoming or recent move to a new house
How To Respond When your Toddler Suddenly Stops Potty Training
Don't take it personally
Toilet training is stressful — for kids and parents! Remind yourself that regression is normal, and can happen for many reasons, including normal child development stages, a change in routine, a new sibling, a move... a global pandemic. You get the idea. Any strong-willed toddler wants to feel in control, and these big changes from their routine can be frustrating or scary.
The good news is that dedicated time at home — can actually help families navigate these difficult regression phases. Increased togetherness also increases a parent’s credibility in the eyes of our children.
Stay as calm as possible — even when cleaning up accidents.
“Using the bathroom is a natural and necessary skill” and we don’t want to give children the impression that learning is stressful or upsetting, says Patricia Kane. She recommends parents present the consequences of having an accident in a neutral, even tone of voice. In other words, when you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and channel Mom and Dad Tiger. Say something like, “You peed in your pants. Here are your clothes. You need to change.”
Have your child take charge of accident clean up.
Children want to be viewed as helpers — and that can apply to cleaning up potty training messes, too. Dr. Lavin suggests having your child go into the bathroom and take off their own dirty clothes. You can close the door and wait outside until they have finished.
Use a checklist to remind children about bathroom routines.
Patricia Kane recommends checklists children can see or hear to help them learn the steps involved in using the toilet. Strategy songs from Daniel Tiger (“When You Have to Go Potty, Stop...and Go Right Away” and “Go Potty, Go") worked as a checklist with two of my kids. However, my son responded better to a visual checklist taped up in the bathroom. We took photos of bathroom items (e.g. toilet, toilet paper, soap, etc.) and placed the pictures in order on a piece of paper. You could also draw photos, have your child draw photos, or cut pictures from a newspaper or magazine to show the steps.
The best reward? Encouraging words!
We all like to hear we’re doing a good job — and giving our children encouragement during toilet training is essential. Patricia Kane recommends being specific about what children are doing well during potty training. It’s not uncommon, for example, to give multiple ‘good jobs’ during one bathroom trip. (Good job pulling your pants up!” “I like that you used two pumps of soap,” and “I like that you used a little bit of toilet paper.”)
Know when to call the pediatrician.
Regression can sometimes signal an infection or other disorder that requires medical treatment. So if you’re feeling concerned, give your pediatrician a call.
Dr. Lavin said 1 in 3 toddlers suffers from constipation, and it factors into toilet training. “Some kids say, ‘I won’t poop anymore’ and try to hold it in,” Dr. Lavin says. “Of course, this has painful consequences.”
Know that bedwetting is also normal — even after potty training progress.
Staying dry overnight ― called nighttime urinary continence ― usually follows within a few months after a child has fully mastered daytime bladder control. (Although, it’s taken all of my kids much longer!) “Nighttime and daytime are totally different,” says Dr. Lavin. “Bedwetting occurs during REM sleep and is not under a child’s control. Even if you stop giving them drinks at 6pm, there will still be pee there.”