Potty training can be a tricky thing. There are competing schools of thought about when and how to train, and then, of course, each child is different. However, there are some potty training tips that can be useful regardless of how and when you potty train.
Remember to Pause
There are many factors that go into successful toileting. The first step is for the child to be aware of the need to go to the toilet BEFORE the action actually begins. Once that awareness is there, the child also has to be WILLING to go to the toilet, or inform a parent that it is time. This is where the “pause” is so critical.
Imagine that you’re a two or three-year old. You’re doing something fun when you realize that you need to go to the toilet. The difficulty is stopping a fun activity in order to successfully toilet. As an adult, you probably know the feeling. Holding it is certainly an option depending upon what is going on and the availability of facilities. However, for a small child, these are calculations that are difficult, if not impossible.
The key is to ensure that the child knows that they are not making a sacrifice in order to go to the bathroom. Too many parents make the mistake of using the trip to the bathroom as a transition time, ending the previous fun activity. While, as an adult, you may be fully aware that the fun time was almost complete anytime, the message that goes into a small kiddo’s head is that when you go to the bathroom, the fun ends. It is no wonder then that many children end up having the most accidents when they are otherwise engaged in a fun or interesting activity. They don’t want the fun to end, so they hold it too long, or may even willfully have an accident in order to prolong the fun as long as possible.
To avoid this issue, ensure the child that any trip to the bathroom is nothing more than a pause, and that when the going to the toilet is finished, the fun will resume. The easiest way to accomplish this is to actually say, “Pause,” out loud. The child will get used to this an understand that a bathroom break is just that, a break.
In order for this to work, however, the words must match up with reality. If you are watching TV, for example, actually pause the show and leave it paused until the trip to the bathroom is finished. Likewise, if you are playing with trains, say, “Pause,” and then put your trains down and head to the bathroom with your child. It is much easier to manage the will to go to the restroom when you know you won’t be missing out on anything.
Furthermore, it is important to not end fun activities with a trip to the bathroom. In the above examples, be sure to return to the TV, or to playing with the trains, even if it is time to move on to a new activity. Come back to the couch and press play, or go back to the track and start playing with the trains. If it is time to move on, then just continue the activity for a minute or two. Doing so will put in the child’s mind that going to the bathroom was not the end, but rather the end came on its own. That way, there is no fear that admitting you need to pee means stopping the fun, and accidents during fun activities will decrease.
Obviously, certain activities become so engaging that the child doesn’t notice that they need to go to the bathroom. The pause won’t help these situations, but they are less common than those many times where the kid has to think about whether to be successful with a trip to the bathroom, or get one more minute with the dollhouse.
Using the pause will ensure that the choice is easy.