Here are some tips and tricks to increase your child's chance of success and to decrease some of the anxiety around toilet training.
If toilet training has been unsuccessful, or if your child has developed aversions or tantrum behavior around toileting, try taking a step back and introducing some of these strategies.
- Bathroom stuff stays in the bathroom: When your child is wearing diapers or pull-ups, it can be tempting (and easier) to change them wherever you are. However, by changing your child only in the bathroom, it strengthens the understanding that all urination and bowel movements belong in the bathroom. You can also have them flush the waste down and wash their hands, which are also important pieces of the toileting process.
- Routine is important: Even if your child is not having any success yet on the toilet, put sitting on the toilet into the daily routine. Familiarity with sitting on the potty at predictable times throughout the day can decrease anxiety around toileting. If you use a visual schedule, make sure sitting on the potty is in the schedule multiple times during the day.
- Modeling: This may sound silly, but I have seen it work! Have favorite characters request to use the bathroom, and then have them pretend to go (sometimes I use a dollhouse for this). This works very well with kids who have a tendency to be anxious about using the toilet. For example, last week I started modeling Thomas the Train asking to use the toilet and after a week the little boy started modeling that Thomas was using the toilet and then the boy started asking, too.
- Relax: A child who is stressed or anxious may tend to hold back. Focus on making sure your child is relaxed and calm while sitting on the potty. Find some favorite books or Ipad games and keep those just for sitting on the toilet or play some favorite music. Try to minimize stress and expectations by not talking about peeing/pooping the whole time your child is sitting there. They need to relax for anything to happen!
- Comfort: Is your child using the proper toilet? If your child is bigger, he/she may be uncomfortable on a small potty. If your child is sitting on the big toilet, he may be more comfortable spreading his legs so he doesn't feel like he's falling in or she may need a small stool to put her feet on so they are not dangling. All these factors can contribute to a child feeling more relaxed and less anxious about the toileting process.
- Tone down the "Potty Party": One piece of advice frequently given to families is to show a lot of positive reinforcement when a child has had success in the potty. Unfortunately, having a big potty party for your child when she is using the toilet or immediately after can backfire by creating stress or startling the child around the toileting experience. Try keeping your positive praise low-key, behavior specific, and only after you are sure the child is done. I usually say something like, 'Hey, good for you peeing in the potty,'.
Toilet training is not a 'one size fits all' process. Every child is different and has his or her own needs and personality.
For more information or assistance on making a specific activity easier for you and your child, please contact A Child's Potential, Inc. through the contact page on our website or visit us on Facebook.
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