Hello, parents of toddlers. Have you started potty training yet? Isn’t potty training amazing (not!). I recall the arguments Hubby and I had when it was our time: “You teach him!”, “Nope, it’s YOUR job! I don’t know how to aim!”, “He’s too young to aim properly sef!”, “Well then, I guess he’s gonna pee like a girl till he gets to Primary school and his classmates mock him!!”. If you’ve reached where we reached in our argument about how to potty train your child, here are some tips.
The Right Time
There’s a lot of pressure to start early. We started our daughter at 18 months and she’s trained by 3+. My friend Mina wished she had waited a bit longer before starting with her son. 2 and a half years seems to be a good age for boys.
We’ve seen theories like Elimination Training (starting at age 6 months) and if you wanna try it, okay. It will get quite messy (as baby is being left to run around with a diaper basically) and you would have to work on communication with your baby.
The Right Tools
A potty seat or a potty chair? It depends on your needs, some parents immediately go for a potty seat and some side steps, reasoning that there’s no point spending money on a potty chair when the kids will still have to transition to the toilet. Good idea, but some kids do get scared of the big toilet.
Potty chairs come in different styles, from a plain potty chair to some with urine guard to the fancy with lights and noise and colour. We tend to recommend the plain ones, because we know you can decorate it and tush it up if your child prefers that. Urine guards shouldn’t be too high or they scrape on a little boy’s peewee when he sits down, making it a tad uncomfortable.
Look for materials easy to clean, hard plastics that last long. Our potty seat is 35 years old and still being used! Also look for construction that’s easy to dispose the waste (we have a detachable urine guard and collection bowl on ours, making clean-up very easy).
Try not to buy too big a potty, you don’t want something that your toddler will sit in and her butt will sink in, alarming her.
The Right Technique
It’s important to sit your child properly on their potty. For boys, they stand. Aiming at that age is tricky so they will need help. Try giving them targets to aim for, some people put small pieces of cereal inside the potty.
The easiest way to teach kids, is by imitation. My daughter and I go to the bathroom together. She’s eager to sit on the grown-up toilet because she sees me doing it. Same with Mina’s son: he follows his dad to the bathroom.
Look out for visual cues, like sudden dancing or going on tiptoes. That’s a good potty sign.
The Right Steps
Start simple: lead your toddler to the potty and sit her down for 5 minutes. She won’t understand, but then one day, your timing will work out well and she’ll pee in it. Ask her questions, like “wee wee?”. And at 3 hour intervals, place her on the potty. Once she can understand what you’re asking, lose the diapers. You can keep the diaper on when you’re out-and-about, but at home, we noticed she potty-trained a bit better when she wore her “big girl pants” (a Dora the Explorer set). There will be several accidents, but try not to get upset at your toddler, mistakes are very normal and expected. She’ll get confused by her own timing, forget herself in play and wet herself. It’s normal.
If your toddler seems to refuse to potty but instead wets herself after you let her off the potty, it may be she’s feeling anxious about the whole situation (maybe you’ve lost your temper a couple of times and now she’s scared). I take my toddler with me when I go to the bathroom and it helped immensely.
Nighttime Potty is a bit harder (because you’re tired and wanna sleep!). Nighttime potty training should only start AFTER Daytime Potty is reasonably successful. Bedtime routine should always start with a toilet break, then by 12-2am, wake toddler up to pee. It’s best if the parent also wees as well, so it becomes a shared behaviour. Keeping a regular schedule is the most important detail, you have to stick to a particular time frame or the child gets confused. Also invest in a mattress protector (it has elastic at the edges so no shifting), we found a good one for N4000 for a Queen-sized bed. Accidents WILL happen.
The Right Stuff
Give it time. There’s no reward for bragging that your child potty-trained in 3 days, by 2 years old, no-one will hand you a cookie, dear. So don’t stress your child. Take it slow and you’ll realise your toddler will potty-train much easier and get it right.