Thursday, December 10, 2009

Potty Training Doesn't Have to be Miserable

I’ve had a lot of questions about potty training, so I’m re-running an earlier post on the subject. A young mom was lamenting the fact that her three and a half year old son still wasn't potty trained. He had no interest whatsoever in shedding his diapers. I assured her that he would be potty trained by the time he walked down the aisle! Seriously though, for practically every toddler, this is a short term problem.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no set age at which toilet training should begin. They advise that the right time depends on a child's physical and psychological development. Between 18 and 24 months, children often start to show signs of being ready, but some children may not be ready until 30 months or older. They also advise parents that if their child resists strongly, it is best to wait for a while.

In the case of a head-strong 3 1/2 year old, there are some things you can try. For starters, go to Target, or wherever you and he generally shop together. Take him to the underwear aisle and tell him that he is a big boy now, and big boys are very lucky because they get to wear big boy underwear. He is especially lucky because you brought him to Target where they have lots of underwear to choose from. He can pick whatever he wants....Power Rangers, Batman, Bob the Builder, Spongebob, etc.

As soon as you get home, he can try on his new undies. If he can go a whole hour and stay dry, he can wear them all day. He needs to use the potty first, to help him stay dry for a whole hour. At the end of that hour, you'll remind him to use the toilet again, and try for another hour.

If he can't make the first hour, try to understand his state of mind. Why do you think he didn't make it? Was he engrossed in a tv show or game? Is he just really not interested, even with the new cool underwear? If it's the former and he really wants to try again, let him. Make the time frame a half hour though and remind him at that point to try to use the potty. If he just really isn't ready, don't push it. Tell him that you'll wash the underwear and put it in his drawer, and you'll try again next week.

If his friends are already trained, encourage a play date where he'll see them use the toilet. Sometimes that's enough to spark interest. By 3 1/2, when he decides he's ready he will likely be very successful very quickly. It's probably not that he has bladder control issues, more that he needs to decide for himself that he's ready.

Summer is the perfect time to train, because you can spend a lot of time outdoors where it's easier to clean up accidents. It's hard work but you have to be consistent.

Please hit the comment tab below to share any tips that have worked for you.
Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. As a former early childhood educator who is now a counselor and a parenting coach, I can honestly say that potty training is one of the biggest challenges faced by parents. You offer some excellent advice!