With the Corvid-19 lockdown keeping parents and children at home for at least another few weeks, I know many parents are taking the opportunity to get started on potty training their toddler. If your little one is over 18 months old and not potty trained yet, we've considered the pros and cons of toilet training during lock-down and shared some top tips to help you with (relatively) stress free toilet training.
Is now the right time?
Before you start potty training your toddler, consider whether you, as a parent, are in the right frame of mind at the moment. Potty training can be a stressful experience for all concerned so be sure that you can are OK with adding to your anxiety levels right now. Most experts recommend potty training when there are no great disruptions to your child's or family's routine. While we are all at home, so staying close to the potty and dealing with inevitable accidents may be easier, your child may also be missing their usual routine, seeing family members or socialising at nursery. Will they may find another change to their 'normal' difficult to cope with?
However, if your child seems happy and unaffected by events and you are happy to put in the effort while you have plenty of time on your hands stuck at home, now could be the perfect opportunity to loose those daytime nappies for good.
When should I potty train my child?
The majority of parents start potty training their child between 2 and 3 years old, however as is often the case, your child's individual developmental stage is more relevant than their actual age. Some toddlers can potty train at 18 months while others will be 3 or older. The most important thing is to look for signs that your child is ready rather than forcing the issue because they are a particular age.
How do I know when my child is ready?
There are some tell-tale signs to look out for which may encourage you to start potty training your child.
Key signs that your toddler is starting to develop the bladder control needed for successful potty training are:
they know when they've got a wet or dirty nappy (and perhaps tell you about it)
they get to know when they're weeing/ pooing and may, for example, go behind the sofa or under the table to do it - or was that just my child?
the gap between wetting is at least an hour (if it's less, potty training may not succeed, and at the very least will be hard work for you and take longer)
they know when they need to wee and may say so before they do
Potty training is usually fastest if your child is at the last stage before you start the training. If you start earlier, be prepared for a lot of accidents as your child learns. It's also really important that they are able to follow instructions.
Get your child used to the potty by having it near them so it become familiar to them and involving it in their play. For example, teddy could use the potty (don't forget to give him a big clap when he's done).
Talk to your child about wees, poos and what a wet nappy means when you change them. If you change their nappy in the bathroom, let them help flush the toilet and wash their hands.
Let your child see you use the toilet and explain what you are doing.
If you child knows when they need the to go, encourage them to sit on the potty. If they don't usually say anything in advance, try sitting them on the potty after meals for a poo or every 40 minutes or so for a wee.
Boys will find it easier to sit down to wee at first.
Dos and don't of potty training
Don't make your child sit on the potty for more than a few minutes. Remember to praise them for sitting on it even if they haven't done anything.
Don't make a fuss if they have an accident as this could make your child worried and anxious. Just mop it up and start again.
Do praise your child when they succeed! Sometimes a sticker chart and/ or an end reward for consistent potty use can come in handy too. You could make your own chart or use one of these Pirate or Princess themed sticker reward books.
Do avoid fiddly outfits with buttons and dungarees. Choose a dress, skirt or trousers that are easy and quick for your child to pull up or down. Forget underwear for a while.
More tips to try if needed (and to make the process more fun!)
Make up a special potty song that you and your child sing when they are on the potty. The sillier the better!
Have a special toy or book that your child only plays with when they are on the potty.
Let your child help flush the contents of their potty down the loo (this is surprisingly motivating)
Buy your child some 'proper pants' to wear rather than their boring old nappy.
The most important (and hardest) part of potty training is patients. Potty training is a skill which may take some time to learn, so don’t be surprised if there are lots of accidents to start with. You might decide your child isn’t ready after all, in which case stop potty training and have another go in a few weeks.
For more advice and resources head over to the NHS website or download a free pfd guide from The Institute of Health Visiting