Increase Interest in Potty Training

>Are you thinking about potty training in the near future? Have you been at it a while but stalled in the process? Is your child “just not interested”? These tips may help.

*Let Them Observe*
If you are at all comfortable with the idea, let them observe. Children learn best through modeling and taking them in with you provides this opportunity. Let them watch and answer any questions they have. By all means, if this is uncomfortable don’t do it.

*Talk Them Through*
Talking them through the process can start while you are still changing diapers. You can talk about how they poop and pee and you can label bodyparts. You can talk about how someday they will go on the potty. When they observe you in the bathroom, you can talk about all that you are doing includng flushing and washing. Once you are making the transition you can add language about “that feeling in their tummy that means they need to go.”

*Read the Books & Watch the Videos*
There are many good potty training books and videos on the market. The idea is to casually mix in the books with your other story times and the videos with your viewing time.

*Change All Diapers In or Just Outside the Bathroom*
Stop changing diapers all over the house. The first benefit is that children who hadn’t already may start associating the bathroom with going potty. The second benefit is that children who just don’t want to stop playing to go potty have to whether they make it or not. This goes for when you are out running errands as well, find a bathroom.

*Dump or Hold Over Their Potty*
This idea also helps children to make the potty connection. Whenever you change a poopie diaper walk with the child into the bathroom and dump the poop into their potty saying “the poop goes in the potty” and then flush or clean as you would have. If it is a wet diaper, you can just hold the diaper over their potty saying “the peepee goes in the potty.” I know this may create an extra step but may be helpful in the process.

*Sit and Relax*
Some children are too nervous to have success if the push is to “sit and try.” If this is the case, it may be best to shift the focus to “sit and relax,” sit together and talk or sing or read books or put on finger plays.

*Presenting the Potty OR Making It Their Own*
This means make the initial presenting of the potty fun. Maybe take a special shopping trip to pick out a potty or let them help choose which potty seat they like. If the potty is already out, you’ve been trying for a while already or they have older siblings, have a potty decorating day. You might let them put stickers on the (cleaned) lid or make a poster for the wall behind the potty, something to celebrate that the potty is now theirs.

*Descriptive Praise*
Descriptive praise works to build intrinsic motivation for behavior. In the case of potty training it sounds like, “You knew you had to go!” “You got there so fast!” and “Look, you put your poop right in the potty!” You are describing back their behavior, focused on effort and progress. This helps to give them ownership of the process.

*Underwear as an Under Layer*
For some children, diapers and pull-ups may work too well. Because these products are so absorbent children may not recognize that they are wet. If this seems to be the case, you might have them wear underwear under their pull-up or diaper. This way they get wet just not the floor.

*Take a Tour of Potties*
Start pointing out potties everywhere you go. Talk about how there are potties in restaurants, stores and in other people’s homes. If there is time, you might visit the potties. We took the tour at relatives’ and close family friends’ houses.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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