Time to Talk about Potty Time


At-Home Supplemental Ideas

Let me begin by stating that I am by no means an expert on potty training. Yes, I have been assisting parents and children with potty training for the majority of the time I’ve spent in education, but I am not a parent nor do I have a Ph.D. in potty training. But let’s be honest, who does?! I have been on the frontline of potty training in the classroom for quite a while and wanted to share some tips, hints, and questions parents have asked me throughout my time working through toilet troubles with our young ones!

Some of the top questions parents have asked me are:

  • How do we know they are ready to be potty trained?
  • Do we need to begin potty training at home first?
  • Should we keep them in a diaper or pull-up while they sleep?
  • Is it okay to go back and forth between diapers/pull ups and underwear?
  • Can we bribe them?

These are all valid and great questions, but foremost, I stress to parents that every child will be different when it comes to learning to use the bathroom.

Most children show signs of being ready in varying ways. For instance, being able to tell you when they have gone to the bathroom and if they are wet or have pooped. Other times, kids will not tell you, but rather find a secluded area or corner to “do their business.” This means they are able to know when they are going.

When it comes to if you should start training at home or a school first, there’s no right or wrong answer. In many ways, it is best that when potty training starts, it doesn’t take breaks when school is over or on weekends or even at school. Consistency is key for any young child. A child will become confused if they are expected to use the bathroom at school, but not at home. This could also make training last longer than it needs to if the parents and caregivers are not on the same page.

When it comes to nighttime and naps, it is perfectly fine to put the kiddo in a pullup or diaper. Many children wear helping pads or pull ups even in grade school for good night sleep. Children can have nighttime wetting issues sometimes beyond grade school. The important part though is to communicate with the child that they shouldn’t rely on the support of a pull up, etc. but rather be aware of their needs. They might need to use the restroom a few times before a short nap, they might need to rush there when they wake up. Support them in this. They shouldn’t be punished for an accident, especially when they are still learning.

As for switching back and forth during waking hours or day-to-day, I will revert to the advice that consistency is key. Most young kids will have more success when there are not many changes in their routine. This includes potty training. As a parent though, this is your decision. It will be hard at first, there might be many accidents to change and you might need to bring a lot of extra clothes once a child gets into underwear, but it might make training go faster and be more successful overall.

Bribes? That is up to you as a parent. I will tell you, I was bribed when my mom and dad were potty training me. I even had a chart, and when I was finally dry all day for a week I got a pair of the coolest cowboy boots a kid could want. So, bribe away, just hold to your promise. If they are earning a jelly bean after every success, be sure to give them a jelly bean! However, know when to stop or lessen the rewards to a minimum as they become more successful.

Overall, I leave you with a few tidbits of advice:

  • Every child is different.
  • Consistency is key.
  • Communicate with your caregiver.
  • Celebrate their successes!

Good luck!

*Potty Training image courtesy of Manish Bansal / flickr creative commons

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