Potty training can prove to be quite the challenge for many families. While every child adjusts to this important life change at different speeds, there are several things you can do to overcome some common issues and pitfalls.
- Your Child Won’t Go in the Potty: Being potty trained is a big adjustment and some children take longer than others to truly be ready. As their parent, you can look for physical, behavioral, and cognitive signs of readiness. Some of these signs include: staying dry for two or more hours, they can pull their pants up and down on their own, or have their own words for urine and stool. If they don’t exhibit these signs, you can lay some foundation by reading them potty books or taking them into the bathroom when you use the toilet. Getting them comfortable with the “idea” of going to the bathroom is a good first step. However, if they continue to show no interest, it may be beneficial to hold off for a while and try again after a month or two.
- Your Child Wets the Bed: Potty training isn’t an exact science nor will your child be 100 percent perfect every time. Even when they’ve started using the toilet on their own, accidents happen. Use mattress and pillow protectors to prevent your child’s nighttime accident from ruining their mattress. Just as important is how you react. Avoid getting angry or frustrated when accidents occur – as this could adversely affect their progress. Some parents use a calendar to track and reward consecutive nights without wetting the bed. Offering stickers, candy, or small gifts can motivate your child to make it through the night. Another option is to keep the potty training toilet available and add night-lights in the bedroom to make their trip to the bathroom easier.
- Your Child Only Goes Potty at Home: Many children get comfortable with “their own” toilet seat or potty environment. It’s not surprising that they can be hesitant to try going somewhere “new.” To help alleviate this issue, get them used to going in a different bathroom where they still might be at ease – like a grandparent or friend’s house. And like most of these tips, reinforcing success with rewards is always a good motivator.
- Your Child Won’t Go “Number 2”: This can be a common problem that Dr. Alan Greene M.D., the Pediatric Expert for AmericanBaby.com, refers to as the D3 Cycle. In other words – Discomfort, Dread, Delay. To overcome this, changing up your child’s diet could be a good start. Encourage your child to go poop in the bathroom “just like you.” It’s the first of small steps that will gradually get them comfortable with the idea of “Number 2.”
- You Want to Take a Family Trip While Potty Training: Understandably, summer and vacations go hand-in-hand. Keeping up your child’s potty training while you’re all out on the road can be tricky. Make sure that before you leave, you have brought all of your potty training tools – such as training toilets to books to extra underwear. You also might want to scope out where the closest rest stops and public bathrooms are located to ensure that you can take breaks when necessary. And finally, make it a point to take your child to the bathroom regularly – so they know that it is part of a normal routine.
- Your Child is Afraid of Flushing: Many children have a fear that they will be sucked into the toilet if they’re sitting on it when flushing. Not to mention the loud noise can be a bit startling at first. A good way to overcome this is to have them flush pieces of toilet paper to acclimate them to the noise and process. That way, their fears are lessened when it comes time to flush at bathroom time.
Remember that every child potty trains at a different pace. What works for some probably won’t work for all. As a parent, your job should be to provide an environment that is supportive and nurturing as they begin this important process.