Sunday, 17 August 2014

Top Toilet Training Tips!

Toilet training can be an exciting time for both you and your child. It marks an important transition, with your little one gaining independence and many new skills. There are millions of ideas and tips out there to support your child through this time (and stop you going barmy!), but which ones work? 

Firstly, every child is different and every parent is too. What works for one parent and child may be a disaster for another. This means there will be a certain amount of trial and error involved in finding what works for you and your toddler. What follows are some practical tips that may help you to support your child.

1. Are you both ready?

If you have ever toilet trained a child before, you will know that you need to have time to focus and lots of patience. There is no point trying to start when you are rushed off your feet or being pulled in hundreds of different directions. If that is the case, delay potty training until you have the time to really support your child. 

Your child needs to be ready too. There isn't some magical button we can press to make children ready to train, each child is different and they will let you know when they are ready. Look for signs such as them being interested in the toilet or having an awareness of their bowel movements. If you start trying and then realize they are not ready, stop and try again in a couple of months.

2. Consistency

This can make or break successful toilet training! At first you will need to take your child to the toilet at regular intervals as they will not be able to anticipate their need to go. Try every 20 or 30 minutes and gradually increase the intervals as they progress (this is why we need the time and patience!). Let them sit there for a couple of minutes even if they don't go and praise them for sitting on the toilet. 

Children will get absorbed and distracted in their games and activities so we must take them regularly. If they are busy, discuss with them where they are going and why and that their activity will be there when they get back. 

Whichever techniques you decide to use with your little one, keep using the same strategies so they know what to expect.

3. Rewards

Having a sticker chart, collecting tokens, or whatever works for you is a great way to
motivate your child. Keep it a positive experience and once they have collected a certain amount, (keep it realistic and attainable as they need to see results for their hard work) then they get a pre-agreed reward.

Do not use negative incentives such as taking away stickers or punishing them if they don't manage to make it to the toilet. This will undo all the hard work you have already done and using the toilet should be a positive experience for them. Accidents happen so don't berate them, take them to the toilet to try and do something there, remind them what to do if they need to go and change them. Don't fuss about it in either a negative or positive way. 

4. Listen to your child

If they seem scared or afraid, try and understand what it is that is worrying them. Popular fears can be falling into the toilet or being scared of the flush. Reassure them and try to make toilet time fun. New things can be scary and although the toilet is second nature to us now, it helps to try and put ourselves in their shoes.

5. Praise, praise and praise again

Successfully using the toilet is a big deal so remember to give them the positive attention they deserve. They want to impress you and make you feel proud of them. Show them you are!

6. Make it an interactive time

While toilet training it can take a while to get the timing right and can involve periods of sitting on the toilet with nothing happening. Talk to your child, sing with them, read to them so they don't get bored and want to start avoiding the bathroom.

7. Work in partnership with your childcare providers

All good childcare providers should work together with you to help toilet train your child. The key again is consistency - what happens at nursery should happen at home and vice-versa. Discuss strategies together, they should listen to you and adopt what you are trying. Due to their experience they may well have good suggestions to make, work together to integrate these with what you want to do.

8. Give your child ownership of the experience

They are big boys or girls now they are using the toilet so let them feel in control. Let them flush the toilet and try to be as independent as possible, for example pulling down their trousers and underwear, and washing their hands. Let them know you are there to support them.

9. Try and move them into 'grown-up' underwear as soon as you can

Pull-up have their uses, especially in very early stages where children may be starting to copy what they are seeing but are not quite ready to start using the toilet. Children are very smart, they know they can use the pull-ups as a crutch and it is okay to 'go' in them. 

Wearing big boy or big girl pants is very exciting, especially if you make a big deal of it and let them choose their own underwear. Yes they will have accidents but make sure you have lots of spare pairs at the ready. Your child will be more likely to use the toilet if they know they have to, rather than knowing they have the pull-up to rely on.

10. Dress them in suitable clothes

It can often be touch and go and fiddly clothes such as belts and buttons can delay things by precious seconds. Try and dress your child in easy to maneuver clothes while they are getting the hang of things. 

11. Patience, patience and more patience

Stay calm and keep persevering, Rome was not built in a day! However, know when to quit if they are really not ready and try again later. Try not to take your frustration out on them (you are only human and you will get frustrated, believe me!).

These are all tips myself, my colleagues and parents have used successfully in the past. Good luck with your toilet training and remember - practice makes perfect!

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See you soon!

 Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development.


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