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Toilet Training Tips
For most children, toilet training is a major accomplishment of the toddler period. Around 18 months of age, toddlers start to recognize the sensations that accompany urination and defecation.
They may clutch at themselves, momentarily stop playing, or even go off into a corner. Most children this age know the words for body wastes and are aware that they "go pee pee" and "poop." This awareness alone will not result in toilet training.
Last Updated - 19th March 2006
A few other things to keep in mind: Children tend to achieve bowel control as long as six months before bladder control. Also, girls become trained a bit sooner than boys. It is a good idea to start toilet training during a period when the child is in a relatively compliant phase. Of course, it's hard to predict when (or if) such a phase will occur, but you will get much better results if you start training when your child is being generally cooperative than during a stubborn period.
Once your child is on the way to being trained, expect some setbacks in times of stress. Also, toileting, like eating, is an area you should try to keep free of power struggles. If your child regresses, be patient and matter-of-fact, and remember that virtually all children are out of diapers soon after age three.
Signs Of Readiness
Your child may be ready to start toilet training when he:
- Is aware of urinating and defecating
- Has childhood words for urine and feces (e.g., pee pee, poop)
- Requests diaper changes when needed
- Is interested when parents, friends and siblings use the bathroom
- Is able to pull down elastic-waisted pants
Here are some general guidelines for toilet training. You may want to follow some of these steps and omit others, and you may develop your own techniques that work particularly well with your child. Before your child starts toilet training, be sure your sitter or day-care provider knows how you want to proceed.
- Take your toddler with you to purchase a potty, and let him help make the selection. Buy the potty a few months before you expect the child to start sitting on it.
- Read your child books on toilet training, such as ONCE UPON A POTTY (in boys' and girls' versions) by Alona Frankel (Barron, 1987) and SAM'S POTTY by Barbro Lindgren (Morrow Junior Books, 1986).
- When your child has a bowel movement in a diaper, place the feces in the potty and say, "This is where we put them." Then let him see you flush them down the toilet.
- When you want to start more formal toilet training, begin by having the child sit fully clothed on the potty for a few minutes each day. If the child refuses, don't insist; wait a few weeks and try again.
- Note the time of day your child generally has bowel movements.
- After the child has been having a daily practice-sit on the potty at a time when he may need to goafter a meal or a couple of hours of staying dry, for example. Again, if you meet with resistance, back off and wait a while.
- Start looking for signs that your child needs to urinate or defecate. Many children become quiet or hold themselves. Ask the child if he wants to try the potty.
- Offer praiseand perhaps a small rewardwhen the potty is used, but don't go overboard. For one thing, your enthusiasm will wane when success becomes more frequent. For another, your child may fear letting you down when he doesn't make it to the potty.
- When your child is using the potty occasionally, go shopping for big-boy or big-girl pants. Training pants, which have double thickness in the crotch, are the best bet. Diaper manufacturers also have introduced disposable training pants with elastic waists and legs. Again, let the child have some say in the selection.
- When the child is using the potty several times a day, tell him it's time to try a day without diapers. Have the child wear training pants, or forget about pants entirely, a particularly good option if it's summer and you can stay outdoors. Expect numerous accidents, which you should handle matter-of-factly.
- When you go out for extended periods, be sure to take a couple of spare pairs of pants and underpants. Early on, you may prefer to put the child in a diaper for outings, but this strategy can cause some confusion. If he resists the diaper, don't insist. Never put your child in a diaper as a punishment for an accident
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