Tshepiso Makhele
5 minute read
20 Aug 2018
11:54 am

What you need to know about potty training

Tshepiso Makhele

Every child will have accidents during their training, but accept this as a normal part of the practise routine

Picture: iStock

Every parent fusses about their child’s milestones, be it their ability to grip a breast for the first time, to hold a spoon or talking and walking.

While other tasks seem easy to accomplish and your little one glides through them quicker than you thought, the same is not usually said about potty training.

Though it is an inevitable process every child needs to go through, it can be a bit tedious for the parent, who has no choice but to go through the monotonous and somewhat emotional process with the child.

Emotional, in the sense that it has a lot to do with how the child feels about themselves, more than just being able to sit on a toilet seat or stand at the correct distance to it.

It is a known fact that at the age of three or four years, most children have achieved daytime urine control and full bowel control. However, the competency of staying dry through the night takes a bit of time, with most kids fully mastering it about the age of six.

The trick is to not be too hard on yourself or push your kid too hard to grasp the training. Trust me, patience and positive reinforcement work wonders during this process.

Your little one will steadily move from diapers to underwear; an exciting time for any child, and then from the small potty to the adult toilet, just as they gradually move from daytime to full-time management of their toilet use.

And soon your little one will master the art of elimination, and you will have those loud and confident announcements at the mall or restaurant that they need to use the bathroom – utilising a toilet they have never sat on before and performing the task with poise.

Strange enough, some parents may discover that suddenly the bathroom is a spot their child regards as their favourite room in the house, a place to go to gain a bit of relief.  But getting to this point in the training takes time and continued support for and sensitivity to your child’s needs.

Picture: iStock

Your child will never need an invitation to accompany you to the toilet, it’s something that just comes natural to them. And it is not such an intrusive idea either.

It may assist your child to observe you using the toilet at home in order to learn the few steps of toilet use, or even at an unfamiliar place, so that they get to understand that it’s okay to use a public toilet and be comfortable in different spaces.

Being more aware of what is needed to make the potty training process easier for your child is also a trick worth exploring.

As they grow from a potty to the adult toilet at home, arrange for them to have a child-size toilet seat or a cute little colourful stepstool to show your support and eagerness to see them winning in the training.

To ensure that they know that you are with them every step of the way, and to safeguard that they follow the usual routine of correct wiping, flushing and washing their hands, accompany them to the toilet when they need to use one away from home, and bring along their toilet seat on trips. Why not, if it makes the child more comfortable.

Efforts such as these, as well as always having an extra pair of pants or clothes for your little one at the ready, will increase your little one’s confidence in bathroom practice.

Indicate to them the various ways in which you are dedicated to assist them in mastering different skills.

Remaining patient and cutting down on criticism, while increasing praise when they do well or try their best, will be a good indication for them that they can set objectives for themselves, work hard and win in their goals.

By showing and telling your child that they, too, can do what big kids do, assists them in growing their confidence and becoming more independent.

Potty training is more. It is a signal of how well your child will triumph with the correct love and support in all they do.

Graphic: Costa Mokola

Useful tips

• Get your child ready: Tell your child they are going to begin potty training at least a week before they start, preparing them emotionally for the big process.

• Get plenty of potty training pants: Get a good stash of these to avoid everyday laundry, and let your child pick out the colours they prefer.

• Remove your rugs: The trick is to put away your expensive rugs to avoid peeing accidents on them.

• Discover what encourages them: Tell your child that every time they use the potty, they would get a treat. Tap into what motivates them.

• Let them sit on the toilet often: During the first week of potty training, put your little one on the toilet seat for every 20 minutes after a meal, and monitor liquid intakes.

• Praise, praise, praise: Say “I knew you could do it” or just “good job” works wonders, without making it too big a deal.

• Accept mishaps: Every child will have accidents during their training, but accept this as a normal part of the practise routine. Informally talk about it and move on.

• Have that naked weekend: If the weather allows, let the child be naked for a weekend. Kids are usually less likely to have accidents if they can actually see the pee or poo coming out.

• Make them comfortable in public: Kids can be afraid of a big toilet seat, so bring a portable potty, and have some extra clothes in your bag.

• Try again: Understand that every child grasps at their own pace. Frustrating as it might be, keep supporting your child after failed attempts.

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