In preparation, I've been reading some books to get some suggestions of how best to go about it. I read one that is very strict and focused on getting your child trained within a week and another, which in contrast is laid-back and for people in less of a hurry. The third one struck somewhere in-between. It's certainly been interesting to see the points they agree and disagree on and I thought I would share some of those points with you.
Points the books all agree on:
- Your child should be showing some signs of being 'ready'. These do vary a bit from book to book but the general idea is the same.
- The parent needs to be ready too; ready to devote some time to the task, to their child, to be prepared for accidents and such like.
- Potty training is not recommended close to a new baby's arrival, moving house, a holiday or starting nursery.
- Your child should be involved in the preparation. Let them choose their potty, underwear etc to get them involved and interested.
- The parent should not show any disapproval nor reprimand the child for any accidents. A relaxed and positive attitude is encouraged.
- Accidents happen and are inevitable so be prepared (plenty of clean underwear for the child, buckets and mops at the ready...).
- Don't force your child to do anything (wear underwear, sit on the potty/toilet etc), instead try gentle encouragement to get them on board.
- Give LOTS or praise when they first do something in the potty.
- Allow your child to feel in control of the potty training rather than the adult making all the decisions and choices for them.
- Be consistent! Your use of language, your responses to accidents or challenges, your level of encouragement and positivity all need to stay constant.
Points the books disagree on:
- Where the potty should be (bathroom or another room in the house)
- Asking the child if they want to go, as oppose to asking them to tell you.
- Whether to remove nappies for naps and bedtime, as well as awake time.
- Having the child sit on the potty just in case they do something, rather than only when they ask or show you they need to go.
- Reward systems (using stickers, treats etc).
- Dealing with regression (putting them back into nappies or not)
The plan is not to follow one of the methods I read about specifically but to apply some of the suggestions that I feel would work for myself and my son. I personally like the approach of encouraging my son to tell me when he needs to go, rather than taking him every 20 minutes to sit there whilst we read books and hang out in the bathroom, which doesn't seem very natural to me and I think we'd both get bored fast! It's been a helpful exercise to get me thinking about different approaches and considering what I have to expect during the potty training period.
One of the books mentioned that some children get upset at seeing their 'number 2' in the toilet / potty because they've probably never seen it before. A parent wipes it away and wraps it all in a nappy to be discarded so they don't get to see what it looks like. This particular book suggested you ask your child if they'd like to see their nappy sometimes to get them used to what it looks like. I thought that was a good point so I did ask my son and showed it to him. The next couple of times we did a nappy change, he told me he didn't want to look at it but now he's reverted and he wants to see inside each and every nappy!
Have you been through the potty training process with your child? What worked best for you and do you have any tips to share?