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Coping with potty training for your child

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One of the hardest things you can teach a child is how to use a potty/toilet. It is difficult to learn because it requires the child to understand cues from their bowels and bladders, anticipate them and get to a toilet in time to pass out the waste, says Parenting Blogger and lawyer, Ese Umoh.

It is best to take it slowly and go at your child’s pace. No two children are the same, and no two exact methods will work in the same way.

By age three and a half, most children will have mastered the use of the toilet during the day and can stay dry all day, with the occasional accidents. It usually takes a little longer for children to learn to stay dry throughout the night. Although most learn this between the ages of three and five, some older kids still sometimes wet the bed.

The mother of two toddlers said you couldn’t force a child to use a potty until they’re ready, but before they’re ready, the best thing you can do is to encourage their interest in the use of the toilet.

“I started at age two and a half with my two kids. There’s really no perfect time. Some parents start earlier and some just wait till their kids show signs that they’re ready to stop using diapers.”

There are a few signs that show that your child is starting to develop bladder control:
• They know when they’ve got a wet or dirty diaper.

• They know when they’re peeing and can tell you they’re doing it.

• The gap between each toilet visit is, at least, an hour.

• They show they need to pee by fidgeting or going somewhere quiet or hidden.

• They know when they need to pee and are able to tell you in time to get them to a toilet.

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 is also important that when you choose to start potty training, you stop the use of diapers completely during daytime and, if possible, leave your child naked from the waist down during the duration.

Umoh said when she started potty training for her daughter, it was important for her to know that the toilet is the place where poo and pee go, but it was more important for her to know that she shouldn’t pee or poo on herself. So for the first one week, I kept the potty beside a chair, in front of the television where she could relax and go every 30 minutes.

“I chose a holiday when I didn’t have to go out, and had her sit on it and try to wee/poo every 30 minutes. The idea was to make sitting on the potty part of everyday life for your child.

“There will be accidents, but be prepared to clean up and encourage your child to keep trying.

If you don’t make a big deal out of it when they have an accident, they won’t feel anxious and worried, and are more likely to be successful the next time. When they succeed, it helps to do a little celebration and even a little reward will help a lot.”

She stressed that towards the end of the first week, your child should be going to the potty without prompting from you and you should notice them pee or poo on their own since the potty is within a view of their regular activity area. If this is not the case, then you’ll need to repeat this stage until your child gets there.

In another week, you can then move the potty to the toilet, and set up a ladder and a toilet seat cover for your child to start using the main toilet. You can continue using your timing but prompt them to go every hour, instead of 30 minutes. They should be going more frequently than they used to without your prompting. You can now teach them to flush and wash their hands properly after each use. You will continue extending the time you prompt your child by 30 minutes until they no longer need reminders.

While noting that the nighttime training is the final stage, it requires you to stop their intake of water, at least, one hour before bedtime. Ensure they use the toilet and pee, and if possible, poo before going to bed. Then wake them up every two hours to use the toilet till they get conscious of waking up to use the toilet at night.

Umoh added that potty training is time-consuming and difficult but it is worthwhile and saves a lot of money because we no longer need diapers and training pants. The mother will no longer need to clean up and change clothing several times a day on account of potty accidents.

Photo credit: black moms blog


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