“What do I do when they don’t seem to understand?”
These are all common questions I get from my families. Some of you know that I previously worked exclusively with 0-3 year olds (in their homes), so as you can imagine potty training took up most of my day. The following are some “tips” and “tricks” I have acquired in my figurative bag over the years that my families tend to like (not to be confused with therapeutic recommendations).
Our kiddos typically show signs that they are soiled, such as hiding their face, showing you his/her wet diaper/pants, trying to change him/herself, stopping an activity, verbally telling you. These are all signs that he/she is aware…and this tells us they are “ready.”
How do I start potty training?
This can be tricky…some parents like to gradually move through the usage of pull-ups and let the kiddos naturally begin to use the “big boy/girl potty.” When parents use this technique I suggest that when you have a “#2″ take the soiled diaper to the toilet with the child and turn the diaper over (“emptying” the contents into the bowl). Then proceed to clean up your child (having them help as much as possible), saying “bye” to the poop, flush, and go on with life. This will help the child to make connections with waste going IN the toilet.
Others like to take a long weekend and get aggressive…what I call “potty training in a weekend.” It has always astounded me over the years how many parents actually prefer this method…but, after all it is quick and saves money on those pull-ups. The premise is…NO pants, NO pull-ups…ALL weekend. Then approximately every 30-45 minutes take your child to the potty and have them sit on it for a minute or two (hoping to encourage usage). And when they “use” the potty…it’s a mini-PARTY! Build it up…let them know how proud you are and what a big boy/girl they are…and tell EVERYONE in the house (expecting the same reaction), this is verbal praise and very effective for the kiddo’s self-esteem. I always advised on putting a diaper/pull-up on at bed time.
What do I do when they don’t seem to understand?
- I absolutely LOVE the book “Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi…and the kiddos seem to love it too. I recommend reading it at least once a day with your child…and encourage them to participate in the interaction/reading.
- Use a picture schedule. I like the following pictures that I acquired at some time in my career. I suggest to parents that they hang this close to the toilet in order to show the steps of using the potty and always “talking” about the steps. Kiddos really seem to like these pictures and like talking about the steps.
- Talk to your pediatrician or providing therapist if you have any questions or difficulties.
Amy Grant, M.S., CCC-SLP