Monthly Archives: January 2008

Wait Until They Are Ready For Toilet Training

I wish that I could remember the source of a very wise quote I heard a long time ago. For that matter, I wish that I could remember the quote directly! But the gist of the quote is that most normal, healthy children do different things at different times, but by the time they are fix or six years old, most of the “basic stuff” — including toilet training — is taken care of. While different children reach certain early childhood milestones at different times, they all seem to catch up on the “basics” by the time they are ready to enter school (children in the U.S. usually enter school when they are five or six years old; this may vary from the standard in your country).

Take my children as an example. I thought that one of my children (who is now an adult) would never start talking (and as I learned from the movie “Schreck” many years later, the trick isn’t getting them to talk; it’s getting them to shut up…). My youngest — who just turned 19 months old — is already starting to string together sentences even though she still can’t pronounce the words very well (but mommy and daddy understand her “language”).

In much the same way, children will develop the skills and motivation for toilet training at different times. Don’t push it because this will only cause extra stress for you AND the child. One child I know had problems until she was halfway through elementary school because of undue pressure to get her to “perform” long before she was ready, and any major life event, such as moving or going to a new school, could cause a relapse. And as far as I’m concerned, it was the parents’ fault, not the child’s (but I learned…).

We took that into account with my son, who is now almost five years old. We talked to him about it and encouraged him (using the techniques I mentioned in the previous post). Eventually, with lots of loving support and encouragement, HE decided that he was ready. The result? Only a couple of minor accidents and a lot of confidence. Not to mention the new hobby of exploring every public bathroom he finds…

Another thing to keep in mind is that younger children may not know the difference between a diaper and underwear, or even if they do, it may not be important enough to them to remember — especially when they are totally engrossed in play and in “being” a small child. “Am I wearing a diaper or underwear? Oh, well, here goes nothing…”. If they aren’t yet ready to learn and remember the difference, while it may be profitable to do “awareness training”, you’re wasting your time if you’re striving for consistent performance.

Thanks for listening,
Tom

Toilet Training For Parents

Toilet training, potty training… we’ve all heard it called various things. It’s that wonderful time in life when we begin to teach our children not to use diapers.

The only problem is that they sometimes continue to act as if they are wearing diapers even after they stop wearing them!

I’ve more or less successfully moved three of my four children out of diapers and the fourth will begin “sometime”. Exactly when that “sometime” will come is not certain — and the reason for that uncertainty is the purpose of this first (in a series) of posts about potty training.

Parents, YOU are the first thing that needs to be trained. From my own experience, PLEASE wait until they are ready. It makes life much easier! Our baby’s “sometime” will come when she, not we, are ready.

The big first step, of course, is awareness — and that’s where “parent training” starts to take place. Your child will most likely give some sort of sign that they are relieving themselves. When you see this, just ask them if they are doing something in their diaper (use whatever terms you decide on; from my perspective, I think that so-called “baby talk” simply teaches your child to speak baby talk, so I’d use whatever words you would normally use for such functions). If they say “yes”, then gently remind them that they can use the toilet for that and ask if they want to.

In other words, you have to “catch them in the act” and take advantage of the opportunity to sell an alternative.

Another “first tactic” to use is to talk to them as you change their diaper. Tell them how much nicer it would be if they would use the toilet. Speak in terms that would benefit them, such as always having dry, clean pants. I think that most small children want to please their parents, so don’t hesitate to tell them how it would also benefit you and ask them to help.

Gentle, consistent encouragement from you is an important first step after they show an awareness of what is happening.

I’ll talk a bit more about why it’s important to wait in my next post.

Thanks for listening,
Tom