So usually when your child reaches their first yearly birthday, you will start receiving questions asking when will they start going on a potty or alternatively, are surprised to hear that the child has not been potty-trained yet.
Q: When is it a good time to start potty-training?
Actually you have a couple of factors you have to consider. First, the parents have to be ready for this. Often times the child is ready but parents keep postponing it as after trying it once, they had 6 pairs of pants to be put in the laundry basket. This is when they usually mistakenly presume that the child is not ready.
Gina Ford, who has written numerous books on babies and children, including potty-training, mentions in her book that you should start potty-training between 18 and 24 months. One of the French specialists on children (can’t remember the name at the moment but will add it soon!) says, that you should start if the child can climb up independently on the playground on those climbing trees.
Earlier than 18 months and the child is not biologically ready.
Different smart books do advise to reward the child with candy or something else if they have used the potty successfully, or when after lunch the diaper is still dry. I’m afraid I do not agree with this, but more about this a little later.
Q: How do I potty-train?
When a child starts walking, then this means that you will not find peace even in the bathroom. This will remind you of those moments when girls at school went to the bathroom together and then waited for each other behind the door. If the little one presses himself or herself through the door, that is the moment when I have taken the little one to sit on the potty with me (me on mine, he or she on theirs). Everything after that is a smooth process, and there is no ‘buying’ them over with sweets.
I have also been at crossroads with a kindergarten where I put 5 pairs of pants in the bag, and we were running on the fifth day when I went to pick up the child after lunch to find that they had been put in a diaper! I got quite angry and said that we are almost finished with potty-training and asked them for an explanation as to why they have put a diaper on a child that is almost two years of age. They only said that they will not start changing pants and the child has to ask to go to a potty. Luckily other parents agreed with me as well and we got into a bigger dispute.
Imagine yourself, you pay many thousands of Euros for a space in a private kindergarten so that there is one child-minder for every 3-5 children, and even then it is too much to ask for a little bit of cooperation…this is quite a thinking point.
Currently it has become a habit with the little girl that when we go to the bathroom, we will see who is able to do their thing first. I kind of feel bad for spoiling the fun so I usually wait for the little girl to say ‘I’m first!’, and then she consoles me ‘next time you just have to be a little faster’. Furthermore, of course it would be a good motivator for the child to buy them underwear with their favourite characters – why? Who wants to pee on their favourite characters? No one! You can also give them a small book to read to keep them on the potty for longer.
Advice for potty-training:
The parents have to be ready for this and cannot get angry at a child even if they pee in their pants. Be supportive, clean up the mess together with the child. This will take time and may take even 2 weeks. Be patient and do NOT show disappointment when the child has peed in a numerous pairs of pants within a couple of hours. Imagine, your parents had to go through the same thing when you were a child.
It would be the best to start in the summer when the weather is warm. This way you will not have to worry about the child catching a cold.
If a child pees their pants, do not change them immediately. Let the child notice this so they can feel the discomfort and they will learn to let you know.
If a child successfully uses a potty, then be happy with the child and cheer them on for being good and ensure they see how happy it makes you. You can even take a picture and say that you will send it to daddy so he can be happy as well (don’t worry, every parent has these pictures in their phone).
Keep the potty in a visible place and take the child with you to the bathroom.
When is it not a good time to start potty-training:
· When you have another newborn in your family, because the child will be too excited and also stressed with the new life in the family.
· If you have just moved as the child will need to get used to his or her surroundings first.
· If the child has been sick recently.
· If the child starts going to a new day care group/kindergarten or you have a new nanny.
· If the parents are under too much stress or there is some tension between the parents.
· If the brothers/sisters do not sleep well and there is overall much tension at home.
· During Christmas or holidays when there is a lot going on at home which can make the child feel anxious.
In conclusion, it is up to the parents to decide when to start with the potty-training. Please do keep it mind that it is not good to leave it too late as I have met many children who are afraid of the potty and even if they pee or poop, they get upset as they do not understand what is going on.
Keep your patience, just as you would when teaching your grandparents on how to use the Internet.
Have a lovely afternoon!