"Early Years Are Learning Years"

Potty Training: Part 1

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It’s 11:00 PM on Sunday night and not only did you just realize that Sally has one diaper left, but that her teacher informed you on Friday that she’s out of diapers at school, too. Your daughter, at 22 months, has not begun potty training and you ask yourself, “Instead of buying more diapers, why don’t I just send her to school in underwear and have the teachers start potty training her? I do have that pack of panties I picked up on clearance in the bottom drawer…”

Potty training your toddler may just be the hardest obstacle you will have to overcome. How do you know when he’s ready to start using the toilet like a big kid? According to “Toilet Teaching Without Tears: From wet to dry” (Children’s Home Society of California, ©2007), start toilet learning based on what your child can do, not by your child’s age.

Your child may be ready to begin toilet learning when the following signs are displayed. Your child:

  • Can understand and follow simple directions
  • Can dress and undress himself
  • Can run and climb easily
  • Has a dry diaper for at least 2 hours during the day
  • Has a dry diaper after naps
  • Expresses an interest in using the toilet
  • Expresses an interest in her bowel movement
  • May initiate toilet behavior
  • Dislikes staying in a wet or soiled diaper
  • Tells you she is urinating or having a bowel movement

When these signs are present, begin to talk to your child about toilet learning:

  • Teach your child the words you want him to use regarding toileting.
  • Talk to your child about the sensations of elimination.
  • You may want to read to your child one or more children’s books about toileting and elimination.
  • You may want to buy a potty chair. Although this isn’t necessary, some children are more comfortable with their feet on the floor, and may be frightened by the water and flushing action of a toilet.
  • Let your child sit on the toilet or potty chair in her diapers to get used to the idea of going to the potty and the purpose of the toilet.

Formal toilet teaching may begin once your child has shown the signs of readiness and is able to tell you he has soiled his diaper. He is recognizing that his body has done something different. Help your child understand the real purpose of the toilet or potty chair. Seat her on the toilet after she has had a bowel movement in her diaper. Unfasten the diaper and drop the contents into the toilet. When he tells you he is wet or had a bowel movement, acknowledge the act, saying: ‘I’m glad you told me. Let’s try next time to put it in the toilet.’ Remind her routinely of the toilet or potty chair’s purpose. Teach your child good bathroom habits from the start. Show him how to wipe properly, throw away the toilet paper, and wash his hands thoroughly after using the toilet. When your child is able to tell you before she goes, give her training pants to wear and encourage her to use the toilet or potty chair. She will see that you have confidence in her ability to take control of this task and do it without your help.”

Kids’ Care Club believes it’s important for parents and teachers to work together as a team when it comes to potty training. We do not require a child to be potty trained to enter our program or to move up to the next classroom. We want children to ease into the process of potty training without pressuring them to do so. When a teacher feels a child is ready to begin using the potty, they will discuss the child’s needs with their parents and create a plan of action that both parties can follow, both at home and at school, to ensure consistency and success.

Do you believe your child is ready to start potty training? More information about readiness can be found at www.zerotothree.org. You can also take an interactive quiz at www.parents.com to find out if your child is ready to begin potty training.

We’ll continue our conversation on Potty Training next week, when we talk about common difficulties and tips for success.

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