Potty Time? Toilet Learning Myths.

1. Children who are potty trained at an earlier age are more successful in school and life.

College applications don’t ask, “At what age did you give up diapers?” Most toddlers are ready to toilet train between the ages of 24 and 36 months. Even if your child is potty trained at eighteen months there’s no guarantee that they’re headed down Ivy League lane. And just because your child isn’t trained until three years old doesn’t mean she’s not going to Harvard. There’s no direct correlation between success in school and life and the age your child learns “to go” on her own. Relax; children don’t go to college in diapers.


2. The smarter the child, the faster they’ll potty train.

Actually, bright, curious children are sometimes so busy exploring the world around them that potty training is not a priority and they may even resist training. A toddler once told me, “If you stop wearing diapers, you have to stop playing to go to the bathroom.” Potty training can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. So with the right encouragement from you, let your toddler move at their own pace and take their time. Sometimes the potty learning process happens almost effortlessly overnight.

When should your child be potty trained? At what age your toddler learns to go to the potty and how quickly they get it is different for every child. Here are some things your child should be able to do and some hints to let you know when they are ready before you start to encourage it:

  • My child can follow directions easily.
  • My child can pull clothing and underwear up and down.
  • My child’s diaper is often dry after nap or for longer periods of time.
  • My child tells me that their diaper is dirty.
  • My child knows when they are going in their diaper.
  • My child is interested in the bathroom.
  • My child wants to sit on the toilet or potty-chair.
  • My child is not going through any significant life changes like a new sibling or new house.


3. Good parents potty train their children by age two or earlier.

Potty training isn’t really training at all - it’s potty learning. If you start potty training too early, your child may become frustrated because they are unable to physically do what you want. Your child will go to the potty when they’re ready, not when grandma or even preschool is ready for them to go. Some how, some way, every child eventually “trains themself” and that is the secret.

Here are a few things you should think about before getting started:

  • I am willing to wash unlimited amounts of laundry. (So, what’s different about that?)
  • I am prepared with paper towels and cleaning products when my house, furniture, clothes and child need to be cleaned after an accident.
  • I will say positive, say encouraging things to my child when I really want to scream.
  • I am ready to stay home for a couple of days to start the process. (A weekend is good start for working parents. Don’t forget to talk to your child’s teacher.)
  • I am getting ready to have another child and decided I didn’t want to have two in diapers.
  • I will be patient.
  • I admit that my child will be potty trained and that “when” it is not a direct correlation of how much money she will earn.


4. Training pants and disposable underwear make potty training easier.

I never used training pants on my children. I just went for the real thing during the day, underwear. Some parents may prefer the plastic pant or disposable underwear for easier cleaning, but I preferred the “dribble down the leg” style for the instant recognition that if you forget to go in the potty, it really feels yucky. If you do go the underwear route, buy lots. I mean at least ten pairs. Whether it’s Frozen underwear, or Barney, the character undergarments really seem to give children a sense of power and self-confidence. It’s worth the investment.


There are lots of products to help make potty training easier - you can decide what is right for you. The one thing I think is a “must have” is a potty-chair that sits on the floor. Children seem to have a greater sense of security without the cold porcelain, giant step up and the circling water below. We give toddlers little spoons, little beds, little cups and little books. Little potties just make sense.


5. When your child is potty training only a couple of accidents should happen.

During potty training, accidents happen. And often it feels like they happen and happen and happen again. Some children have lots of accidents and others only a few. How do you make it to the bathroom in time? Sometimes your child will tell you, “I have to go,” but some how their feet won’t move. Yell, “Hurry to the potty and I’ll count how long it takes you to go.” Now start counting. At least if the accident is in the bathroom it’s easier to clean up than one on the carpet. If your toddler is doing the “pee-pee dance,” unable to talk without wiggling around or folded in some contorted position, they probably have to go. Don’t even ask, “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” You’ll lose too much time. Grab them by the hand, head for the facilities and sing, “Let’s go potty.” Any tune will do.


Create a toileting routine. Make “potty time” part of your everyday schedule, just like brushing teeth or getting ready for a nap. When you find that your toddler’s diaper is dry after a nap, start the routine of heading to the potty as soon as your child wakes up. Your little one will have a better chance of success since they probably need to go. My mother used to run the water in the sink to try to get me to “pee.” It worked, but unfortunately even as an adult, whenever I hear the water running, I head straight for the bathroom.


Whether you use pull-ups, training pants or underwear, have plenty on hand and keep them in the bathroom so your child can change easily after an accident. Also have a place in the bathroom for your child to throw the underwear that just didn’t make it. (Some underwear is just not worth saving. Trust me.) Having your child feel in control even during accidents is the best way for success.


6. No more accidents for children who are really potty trained.

Dr. Kevin Roche of Hunterdon Medical Center says, ”Even months after your child has successfully learned to go to the potty, accidents may occur.“ Remind your child every hour while they are training and continue reminding them until they are in full control. When your little one is tense about things that are happening in their life, a new home or sibling, they may have more accidents. That’s normal. When life smoothes out, so will the accidents. Keep your cool. The last thing you want to do is clean up puddles from your preschooler when you have a new baby in hand. Although, it’s just part of the job.


If your child is having lots of accidents when they start at school, or transitioning classrooms, it may be that they are anxious about the new situation. But it may just be that they just don’t know how to ask to go to the bathroom, is embarrassed to tell the teacher or go around other children. Talk to your child’s teacher.


7. If parents really want to potty train their child, they have to be tough.

On the contrary, nurturing, positive, patient parents foster learning success in any learning situation and this is especially true with toilet training. Try considering each accident a near-success instead of a near miss. Control your frustration when cleaning up each mess and be positive. In a calm voice, explain what happened to your child and then encourage that they do it in the potty next time. You might say, “I see you did pee-pee. That’s great. Next time let’s do your pee-pee in the potty so no one steps in it.” As parents, we see potty messes as definitely worse than “spilled milk.”


Giving a child a reward for going to the potty really works for some children. Try keeping a chart and let your child put on a sticker or smiley face every time they go to the potty. When the stickers add up then treat your child to some special time with you. Play their favorite game or do their favorite activity.


Remember, you’ll get lots of ideas on how to toilet train, but don’t stress. Make it a fun learning and bonding experience with your little one. All too soon you’ll be able to tell your grown child, “I used to change your diapers.”


Tags: #Potty Training # toilet Learning # Childcare # Daycare


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