The right time
“Parents tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to potty train early and to get it right. The ‘appropriate recommended age to potty train is between 18 and 30 months.
“However, parents need to decide what works for them and for their child. Some children might be ready earlier, but some might chose to wait until after their child is three or four to start.
“Early potty training does not represent success, intelligence, or good parenting. Observe your child and determine how much pressure you are willing to put on yourself and this little person. If you do it early, the learning will be based on training cues and behaviours. If you do it later, you will do it through reasoning. There isn’t a perfect age, or method. It is highly personal so be confident in what feels right for you.
Signs to look out for
“Here are some signs that your child is potentially ready. If your child understands the difference between dry and wet and can express it – possibly even with different names; if your child is able to walk and pull down his/her pants; if your child has demonstrated the ability to do some ‘rote learning’ like knowing a nursery rhyme.
“There are a number of potty training methods out there, including a three-day method which is very popular. But I believe that parents can determine what works for them and their child.
“For young children, you can train them by using cues so they can begin associating the ‘feeling’ of needing to go with sitting in the potty. With older children, it can involve discussions, such as, ‘Are you ready to use underwear?’, or ‘Do you prefer to be dry all day?’
“In my opinion, it is best to have a natural, holistic approach to any process involving a child’s learning. Like with literacy… We model reading for our children by reading labels at the supermarket, writing shopping lists at home, reading stories before bedtime and so on. It should be the same for potty training.
“Once your child is able to follow you to the toilet, buy a small potty and encourage your child to sit on it. Buy kids’ books that talk about potty training and create a space in the bathroom where your child can play with the potty and begin to develop confidence and trust in this object and in the environment.
“Note that allowing your child to play with the potty and build trust and confidence with it is the opposite of making a child sit on it until they go – this just creates fears and insecurities.
“Treat the process of using the toilet as exactly what it is – a natural behaviour that requires a specific setting. If you develop a fun, comfortable routine of going to the potty at specific times of the day, your child will begin to use it.
“Also, it is OK for children to wear a night diaper until they’re six years old. And if a child is ‘potty trained’ but is still having two or more accidents a day, the child might not be ready.
“And if they aren’t ready yet, really, what is the rush? It might seem like an eternity at this age, but they grow so quickly. Children don’t have to be potty trained for teachers until they enter preschool or FS1, so don’t let the nursery – or anyone else – pressure you before you and your child are ready.”
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