Don’ts of Toddler Toilet Learning

Dec 31, 2012 No Comments by

Potty training can be a trying experience at times. It’s important to make sure your toddler feels supported and that you uphold a positive attitude to ensure success. Here are some things to avoid.

baby potty training

baby potty training

  1. Don’t expect too much too soon. Most children take several weeks to master potty proficiency – and, at first, you can expect as many steps backwards as forward. Setting your expectations too high can dampen your child’s enthusiasm and damage self-confidence.
  2. Don’t scold, punish, or shame. Your child sits at laugh on the potty without results, then stands up and immediately drenches the carpet. Or asks to use the potty every five minutes while you’re busy trying to prepare dinner, but doesn’t produce even once. Or refuses to go before leaving the house, then soaks the car seat not two minutes out of the driveway. Your frustrations out on your toddler greater still – yet staying calm in the face of toileting setbacks is crucial to ultimate success. Remember, for someone just learned, occasional or even frequent misinterpretations of body signals are to be excepted, overreacting to lapses can discourage a toddler from future attempts.
  3. Don’t deny drink. Though it might seem logical that withholding liquids would make it easier for a toddler to avoid accidents, this practice is unfair, unwise, unhealthy – and, ultimately, ineffective. In fact, stepping up fluid intake means that there will be more opportunities for a toddler to use potty and, thus, more opportunities for success.
  4. Don’t use unnatural means to get desired ends. Some parents give laxatives, suppositories, or enemas so that a child will have a convenient or timely bowel movement. But not only is this practice unwise (such products should only be used on a doctor’s recommendation), it generally unsuccessful. While it might produce the desired results in the short-term, it teaches a child nothing about the bowel control essential for the long-term.
  5. Don’t be a broken record. Nagging almost always backfires with toddlers, who don’t like to be told what to do once, never mind over and over again. Occasional, casual reminders of the presence of the potty in the room (‘Your potty is her waiting for you whenever you’re ready’) or invitations (I’m going to go to the look now; you can come, too, if you like’) can help keep a toddler on the toileting track but incessant carping will almost assuredly derail your efforts.
  6. Don’t force the issue. Never compel your toddler to sit on the potty when he or she’s already refused; don’t force your child to stay on the potty when he or she is ready to get up (even if you know that an accident is imminent.) Besides hampering toilet-learning efforts, forcing a child can lead to straining, constipation, and even anal fissures. The process and the product are your toddler’s – and your toddler’s alone. You can lead the way, but ultimately the reins must be left in his or her hands. (You can lead your toddler to the potty but you can’t make him – or her – use it.)
  7. Don’t turn the toilet into a moral issue. There is no good or bad when it comes to toileting – only ready and not ready. A toddler who’s used the potty successfully shouldn’t be called ‘good’ any more than one who’s had an accident should be called ‘bad’. Labeling a toddler who’s had success on the potty big or grown-up might stroke his or her ego in just the right way, or, in a toddler whose ambivalent about stepping out of babyhood, might trigger potty regression. As a rule, rather than commending the child (‘What a good girl you are!’), commend the act (‘You did a great job!’).
  8. Don’t discuss progress (or lack of it) in front of your child. Toddlers usually hear – and understand – much more than their parents give them credit for.
  9. Don’t take slow progress personally. Slow potty learning is neither a reflection on your toddler (late learners are no less bright) on you (parents of late learners are no less competent). But we sure that you’re not impending your child’s natural progress by stepping up in the pressure or by ignoring the subject of potty learning entirely.
  10. Don’t make the bathroom a battleground. Picking fights over potting will only prolong the struggle. If you meet with total resistance, accept that your toddler’s not yet ready, and give up for a while – completely. Don’t bring the subject up every day, or point out peers who are in underpants, or display anger or hostility when changing nappies. If you meet occasional resistance, pretend you don’t care, and continue your toilet-teaching programme as before.
  11. Don’t give up hope. The process of toilet learning may seem like it’s going to go on forever – but it won’t. Even the most resistant will one day decide that going to the potty beats wearing a nappy – and when that happens, toileting will become as routine for your child as it is for you.

After The Baby Is Born, The Toddlers Year
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