Get Them Ready for Potty Training

There are several things you can do in the months leading up to potty training to encourage a child’s interest and increase their readiness.

  • Read About It – There are so many good children’s book on the market including Once Upon a Potty by Frankel, The Potty Book for Boys/Girls by Capucilli, What to Expect When You Use the Potty by Murkoff and Diapers Are Not Forever by Verdick among many others. The idea is to mix these in with your other read-alouds. There is a fuller list of potty related children’s books on my blog at https://parentingbydrrene.com/childrensbooks/#pottytraining.
  • Watch the Videos – There are also many helpful children’s videos including Potty Power, Once Upon a Potty, The Potty Movie and It’s Potty Time.
  • Play Potty – For introducing potty training through play you can purchase an inexpensive plastic baby doll, poke a small hole in the bottom and fill the body with water. Then you teach the doll baby to potty, and have your child teach the doll baby to potty. You can also buy just the bathroom set and doll from any dollhouse set, and let them play the potty process that way.
  • Let Them Observe – Young children learn best through observation and modeling. If you are at all comfortable, it can be helpful to take children in the bathroom with you and let them observe the process. It can be helpful for them to observe older siblings or others in the potty training process as well.
  • Talk them Through Your Process – If they are observing, it can be additionally helpful to talk them through your process of pulling down pants, sitting and waiting and wiping. I understand this is a lot of detail and can feel uncomfortable, but you are teaching them the language and the details of the process.
  • Change all Diapers in the Bathroom – This is helping them associate the sensation with being in a bathroom. If your bathroom is small, change on a mat just outside. Talk about how when people pee or poop, they need to be in a bathroom.

My full Potty Training audio class is available online at http://www.parentingbydrrene.com.

Teaching Them How to Share

I think learning to share starts with learning to take turns. Taking turns is more concrete than sharing. The child knows, “I have this to myself. When the timer dings, or you tell me, it will be their turn. If I ask nicely and wait, I will get another turn.’ This can make sense as early as 18 months to two years old. Sharing is, ‘we might all touch it at the same time. I may not get this to myself.’ This can be a more complicated issue and can be managed more easily as children get to be three or four years old. At any age, if they have difficulty with sharing, focus first on turns. When there is difficulty, think of empathy and coaching before discipline. This is a social skill that can take a lot of time and practice to learn. It’s more than a specific behavior.

Turn Taking

If your child is having difficulty with turn-taking, you might more actively practice. If he is playing at the train table when you come in the playroom, you could pick up an unused train and say out loud, “wow! The green engine. I am going to take a turn with this train.” If he wants the green one immediately, you can say, “oh, you would like a turn? I am taking a turn, but will be done in just a minute, and you can have the next turn.” Role the train for just a bit longer, and then say, “I am done; you can have a turn now.” You might add, “when you are done, can I have another turn?” Then when he is done, if he remembers to give it back you, gush a little, “you remembered I wanted a turn; that was thoughtful!” If he forgets, you say, “Oh, remember I want the next turn,” and prompt him to hand it to you. If he does, gush a little. Again, this can take some time. (this paragraph from a previous post)

Talk them through these steps with similar language every time they are in a situation of turn taking. Turn Taking may be easier when it is about an activity like waiting to bat in a t-ball game or waiting for a turn on a slide. Use similar words to talk through these times. Also, talk about it when you are waiting for a turn at the grocery store or at the doctor’s office.

Playing board games, even cooperative board games, is a nice way to introduce and practice turns. Cooperative games like Snails Pace Race and Things In My House give an opportunity to practice turn taking without the added pressure of learning to lose.

Sharing

Again, talk about sharing whenever you see it. Talk to them about how we share pool toys with neighbors and how we share a metro ride with strangers on our way to the zoo. Talk about how well they shared the sandbox at the park. Work to share something with them everyday such as a bowl of ice cream or space in the chair when you are reading to them. The idea is to make sharing a common event and highlight the times it is going well.

It’s often more difficult to share things such as a shovel in the sandbox or a puzzle task with classmates. When you can be proactive, prepare them for the sharing that’s about to happen. In our preschool, before we take out a big floor puzzle, we talk to the children about how we are going to all work together to share the task, how we can ask each other for pieces and should listen to others’ requests. We end up reminding them to share the pieces and the space throughout the activity.

It may be a good idea to have a similar conversation about sharing before playdates. Let your child know that friends are coming over, and they will be sharing their toys. If this is difficult, you might allow your child to put away a few toys that they are not ready to share with the understanding that what is out is for everyone to use. Be ready to give reminders throughout.

Read About It

  • The Mine-O-Saur by Quallen
  • Mine, Mine, Mine by Becker
  • Rainbow Fish by Pfister
  • Share and Take Turns by Meiners
  • Sharing is Fun by Cole
  • The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share by Reiss
  • I am Sharing by Mayer
  • It’s Mine by Lionni
  • One for You, One for Me by Albee
  • Martha Doesn’t Share by Berger
%d bloggers like this: