Today's guest post come from Dr. Melissa Arca. Dr. Arca is a pediatrician, blogger and mom. She works part-time while raising her two young children, Big Brother (age 6) and Little Sister (age 3). She is passionate about writing and writing about motherhood, parenting, and children’s health is what she does best. Dr. Arca blogs regularly atConfessions of a Dr. Mom. This post appeared originally on Dr. Arca’s blog Confessions of a Doctor Mom.
Potty training seems to incite fear and stress among parents.
And with all the horror stories we read and hear from family, friends, neighbors, etc…it’s no wonder. It doesn’t help that there’s a stark paucity of science to support one strategy over the other. Even timing is up for debate. So, what’s a potty training parent to do?
First, take a deep breath, relax, and know that your child will progress on to big kid underwear. I promise. It will happen.
I’m a huge believer in “follow your child’s lead” and the rest will eventually fall in to place. I also advocate for keeping it as low key and stress free as possible. I’ve got two potty trained kiddos under my parenting belt. One potty trained at 3 ½ and needed much encouragement and positive reinforcement. The other at 2 ½ and she practically potty trained herself.
Which brings me to my next potty training mantra…tailor your approach to match the temperament and development stage of your own unique child.
Parents frequently get trapped by their own good intentions when it comes to potty training. I’ve gotten trapped myself. But…no need to get hung up on some common potty training pitfalls. Save yourself (and your child) time, stress, and worry by making sure you don’t get hung up on these…
Comparing your child to your friend’s child. Or to a younger or older sibling for that matter. In general, it’s not a great idea to compare milestones with other moms. Kids are unique and develop on their own unique timelines. Potty training is no different. Just because your friend’s daughter was completely potty trained by 2, does not mean your 3 year old is delayed or that your friend has superior parenting skills.
In fact, the age at which a child potty trains is not a reflection of good or bad parenting. It’s ultimately up to the child. It is, after all, the child’s success. Not ours to own.
What matters most is to get started with the process once your child displays readiness signs such as ability to help dress/undress self, shows interest in using the potty, can tell you when he is wet or needs to go poop, takes pride in his independence, and really wants those big kid underwear.
In general this can happen anytime between 18 months-3 years old. Some studies actually show that initiation of potty training prior to 27 months old does not lead to completion sooner than if you waited. Both my children fell on the latter end of the spectrum and the upside to that is they reached completion fairly quickly. No long drawn out process.
Potty training is more important to you than to your child. Toddlers are incredibly intuitive. They know when you’re stressed, anxious, or upset. And if you’re any of these things when it comes to potty training, you can bet your little one will put up quite the fight. Your child must want this. If not, you’ll just be banging your head against the wall.
You punish or get upset when your child has an accident. Do your best to stay positive, even on accident filled days. We know accidents will happen. The first few days will be a steep learning curve for everyone. Praise for effort and by all means, if your child is motivated by reward charts…use them.
All or nothing. Parents often expect nighttime dryness to coincide with daytime potty training. In most cases, this simply doesn’t happen. And it’s completely normal. It often takes months to years for children to become dry at night. It’s okay for your child to wear pull-ups at night. This is not considered a potty training failure or set-back by any means.
Also, many children will not have a bowel movement in the toilet for months after being potty trained. Be patient. It will happen. No need to force the issue.
Constipation. If it hurts for your child to have a bowel movement, you can bet he’ll be resistant to try to poop in the toilet. Make sure your child’s stools are soft and regular by offering fiber rich foods and plenty of water daily.
Potty training, like many parenting issues, is not an exact science. Take heart in knowing that you can support and guide your child through the process, but ultimately this milestone is his to accomplish and own. It’s such a fantastic step toward independence for them. Do your best to lovingly support and gently encourage. When they are ready it will happen.
And soon, you will be packing up all the left over diapers and pull-ups ready to donate them to a friend in need. The tears welling up in your eyes will be your bittersweet reminder that time indeed marches on and diaper clad toddlers grow up and blossom into preschoolers donning big kid underwear.
Relax my dear friends, family, and parents in the throes of potty training. Free yourselves from the potty training traps. For in this case, time is really on your side.
How did potty training go in your household? What questions do you have about potty training? Are you stressed about it?