Toilet training toddlers doesn’t have to be a battle
ONE of the biggest challenges faced by parents of toddlers is toilet training.
I am a big advocate of early toilet training having had success with my first born who was toilet trained not long after she turned two and within two weeks (that is, two weeks of no daytime nappies, several accidents but eventual success), and now observing my second child who is 17 months of age and has been wearing her big sister’s knickers in the backyard and showing me that she has had an accident (early signs of becoming aware of her bodily functions).
It makes sense that the earlier a child has been introduced to the toilet or potty in a positive way, the less likely the child will be afraid to use it.
Many parents choose to toilet train when they are ready instead of picking up signs from their child, but this may be too late and further problems can occur. Lazy parents be warned!
Research undertaken last year by the University of New South Wales showed that the window of opportunity to start toilet training is when they are aged 18 to 24 months.
Any later than 27 months can result in harmful effects on the child such as longer bed-wetting.
If you wait until the child is two, you may end up with more tantrums than success, because at this age they are engrossed in making their own decisions. They are very good at saying “no”.
Also, some children become attached to their nappies as they offer security and familiarity.
Signs that your child is ready for toilet training include: being able to walk and sit for short periods of time, becoming more independent, interested in watching others go to the toilet, has dry nappies for extended periods of time, tells you when they have done a poo or wee in their nappy, begins to dislike wearing a nappy, has regular bowel movements, can pull his or her pants up and down, can follow simple instructions such as “give Mummy the ball”, and shows understanding about things having their place in the home.
Here are some tips that will help parents and toddlers during this stage in their development:
* Introduce the potty into your daily routine by regularly taking them to the potty or toilet at appropriate times (ie. first thing in the morning, after a meal, before bedtime).
* A child should never feel pressured as this may hinder their learning and understanding. The child may become afraid of making an accident and in turn find it hard to go to the potty if they are stressed or upset. Any stress within the family or major changes (such as moving house) could also set back potty training.
* Give praise for small steps as your child learns and offer rewards such as a sticker. Go at your child’s pace and don’t expect too much.
* Never punish your child for mistakes or accidents. This is a learning process and there will be good days and bad days.
* Make sure your child is wearing something easy to get on and off, and easy to wash, such as training pants. Nappy-free time is also a good idea as nappies are essentially a portable toilet.
* Watch your child for signs of wanting to use the toilet, such as expressions on their face or stopping very still for a moment, and guide them to the potty saying something like “let’s see if there’s a wee coming”. Eventually the child will understand and get there himself.
* Toddlers find it hard to “hold on” for more than a few seconds, so if they tell you before they do a wee or poo, thank them and take them to the potty straight away. If they don’t make it in time, still offer praise.
* Don’t make a child sit on a potty for a long period of time as it will feel like punishment.
* If your child is afraid of the toilet, you may need to flush it once they have left the room, then gradually offer them the opportunity to try flushing the toilet after it has been used.
* Teach proper hygiene when using the toilet, including washing hands. Toddlers cannot wipe their bottom properly, so parents will need to do this until they get it right.
* Some children start hiding in strange places when doing a poo. There is no clear reason why they do this, but parents shouldn’t punish them, just make sure they have easy access to the potty.
* Give your child plenty of water and fibre in their diet so they don’t become constipated.
* It is very normal for toddlers to be fascinated by their own poo and many will put it on their hands and spread it around like playdough. While this is unpleasant to deal with, your child is not trying to upset you so don’t punish them.
* Make it clear to your child that you will help them in the middle of the night if they wake up needing to go to the toilet.
* Children are often busy with what they are doing and don’t always notice that their wee or poo is coming until it happens.
It is a big task for a toddler to learn to control their bowels and bladder. Children become toilet trained at various ages. Some are ready at 18 months, some take a lot longer.
Even if your child uses the toilet or potty during the day, it’s not time to throw away the nappies as night-time training may be as late as six years.
Above all, toilet training is a big deal for a child so if you celebrate it the transition will be much easier for both of you.
A good place to go for further tips and toilet training aids is: www.pottytraining.com.au