Potty training a toddler is probably one of the most stressful moments for the parents. It reveals their fears of whether they are doing it right or it is taking too long and is it possible that their kid is lagging behind the other toddlers simply because they still prefer the diaper?
The truth is that potty training comes with a series of success and setbacks and we need to learn to take them as something quite normal in the process. All problems have logical explanations and quite simple solutions most of the time. Once you learn how to recognize them, it will be much easier to help your toddler pass through the potty training without unnecessary stress.
Keep in mind that each child has their own pace and while some can master the skill in a couple of days or weeks, others may need months to do it. Be patient and reward each achievement. It will help to know what causes major setbacks and how to deal with them. Here are a few of the most common problems parents face while potty training and the expert advice and possible solutions.
Your toddler shows no interest in the potty or the toilet
In addition to the physical age, each toddler shows signs of being ready to use the toilet. This includes interest towards the toilet, desire to copy older siblings or relatives, verbally expressing and recognizing the need to empty their bowels or bladder, staying dry for longer periods or after a nap. It is important to note, that even if the child shows all other signs of readiness but a complete lack of interest towards the potty or the toilet, they are simply not ready.
The solution to that is to give your toddler some more time. You can try to provoke their interest as well. Let them participate in buying the potty or choosing their grown-up kids’ underwear. Decorate the potty to make it more personal. Give them the opportunity to observe what happens in the toilet. All these activities will trigger their interest and make potty training much easier.
Your toddler is scared by the potty
Some kids start crying at the very moment you take out or even mention the potty. In such cases, it is impossible to make them sit and let alone pee or poop there.
A possible solution is to keep the potty visible in the room and let the kid play with it. Let them sit on it while fully clothed and play with their favorite toy. Seat beside them and read a book or play together. Let the toddler put their favorite toy on the potty. All these activities will help the kid perceive the potty as something quite natural and part of their surroundings.
Your toddler is scared by the toilet
Many toddlers are scared from the toilet and there is a good reason why. Imagine how it looks from their perspective – it is a big, cold gadget that makes loud noises and things disappear in it. There might be several reasons why a toddler is afraid to use the toilet and a respective solution for each of them.
- The kid is afraid of the sound of flushing. To overcome this fear, you need initially to flush the toilet once your kid is out of it. Then gradually start flashing it together while singing or making some other noise. Explain to your kid that the toilet is supposed to make such a noise. If there is an automatic flush, this could scare the kid additionally. Put a sticky note on the electronic eye that activates the flush. Thus, you will be in control and the kid won’t be scared by an unexpected flush. If using a public restroom always go in first to check if there is automatic flush and cover it with your hand if need be. Gradually, your toddler will start taking flushing for a normal process.
- The kid is afraid the toilet may suck them. This can be triggered by seeing their poop going down the drain or by an accident caused by them falling a bit down the bowl. Make sure to use a comfortable toilet chair or ring that is the right size for your toddler. Explain that the job of the toilet is to suck poop or pee but it won’t do them any harm.
Your toddler will pee in the toilet but poop only in the diaper
Quite often toddlers have different feelings towards peeing and pooping. Many of them get used to peeing in a potty quite easy but insist on having a diaper for their bowel movements. Sometimes children are startled by the poop falling away from them and feel more in control when doing it in the diaper.
To overcome this issue, you need to be patient. Allow your toddler to use the diaper but take it off immediately afterward. Throw the poop in the toilet and explain to them that this is where it belongs. Encourage them to go to the bathroom the next time they need to poop and even sit on the toilet while wearing the diaper. Make the toddler flush the toilet and wash their hands to reinforce the toilet routine. Gradually they will feel comfortable taking off the diaper.
Your toddler is constipated
Quite often toddlers get constipated and they associate poop with pain. This makes them even more reluctant to use a potty or a toilet.
To relieve the problem, encourage your toddler to consume more water, fruits and vegetables and food rich in fiber. If the constipation is more serious you can consult your pediatrician and use stool softener to help.
Often toddlers lack the patience to sit on the potty and wait for a bowel movement to happen. Try to keep them occupied by presenting books to look at or sitting next to them telling stories or singing songs.
Your toddler is afraid to use any other toilet than yours
Manny toddlers learn to use the potty and/or the toilet at home but refuse to do so with public restrooms. The reason for that is the unfamiliar surroundings that may discourage the toddler and make them hesitant to use the toilet elsewhere.
Show your toddler that using any other toilet includes the same routine as at home. Show them that you are also relaxed and positive about the new place and offer your assistance in washing their hands, for example, if the sink is too high for them.
Potty training setbacks: Why they happen and how to deal with them
Potty training is not a smooth process and toddlers often experience setbacks. They refuse to sit on the potty or insist on having back their diapers even if they have been without them for several weeks.
Such setbacks happen often and are quite normal. Your main job is to find the reason for the setback. In most of the cases, this is a change in the routine – a new family member has arrived, the family has moved to a new house or the kid has started pre-school. Every change can affect the attitude of the toddler towards potty training and they may start looking for the security of the well-known diapers. The experts suggest that going back to diapers is not a good idea. Instead, try offering more support and reassurance to your toddler. Explain the change that has happened and assure them that things will go back to normal pretty soon.
In case the reason for the setback is a new sibling, try to spend more one-on-one time with your toddler and to show them your love and affection for them. It is natural that your bigger kid will want the same attention a diaper-using baby has and try to get it by demanding the same asset – the diaper.
Accidents and your role
Accidents do happen simply because toddlers are not that capable of controlling their bladder or bowel movements. Quite often they do not realize that it is high time to go to the toilet and think they can go on a bit longer. While playing, many toddlers get distracted by the toys or the game and ignore the signals.
When an accident happens, it is very important that you stay calm. Scolding your toddler would have a rather negative effect. Instead, try to remind them every 1 or 2 hours about going to the toilet. Keep an eye on signs like the “toilet dance” and take them to the toilet. You can use sentences like: “You will remember next time to go to the toilet when you feel you need to pee” instead of “You should have gone sooner” or “Big kids don’t do that!”. Offer to look after their toys while they use the potty so that they can continue playing upon return.
Is bedwetting really a problem?
Many toddlers learn to use the potty pretty quickly but still need to sleep with a diaper during the night. This can continue until the age of 5 or 6 and is actually something parents shall not worry about.
There is a scientific explanation about bedwetting that many parents are unfamiliar with. There is a certain hormone called ADH (antidiuretic hormone) that controls urine production at night. Until your kid’s brain starts producing this hormone, bedwetting accidents are normal to happen. There is no particular timeline, experts advice that this hormone production happens when it happens.
As a parent, you need to be patient and to reassure your kid that everything is on track. Offer your toddler to sleep in absorbent training pants so that they stay wet at night. Remind them to go to the toilet just before going to bed. Some kids will start waking up during the night to go to the toilet. Encourage this initiative even though it takes a toll on your sleep.
Your toddler is ready but you are not
It sounds almost unbelievable but sometimes the problem is that your toddler is pretty ready to use the toilet but you are not. This may be due to the fact that you realize that your little kid is growing up and you want to have your “baby” just for a few more days or weeks. Another reason might be your busy routine and the fact that you need to juggle with so many tasks at home and/or at work that you simply lack the energy to potty train an ebullient toddler.
The only solution, in this case, is to brace up and face the challenge. Your toddler is growing and you need to accept that and take on board the additional tasks this involves. Approach potty training calmly and as a natural step that at the end of the day will relieve you from having to buy and change diapers. Give yourself a couple of days to prepare – read information online, buy training pants and underwear for your toddler, realize and accept that you and your kid are ready to take this important step together.
Why a complete potty-training routine is important?
Remember that potty training also involves teaching your kid the importance of wiping, flushing and washing their hands after using the toilet. Make a point that only sitting on the potty/toilet bowl is just part of the skills of grown-up kids. Teach your toddler to accept all steps as an entire process.
What to avoid by potty training
To make the potty-training exercise successful, try to avoid the following five elements:
- Never set deadlines
- Don’t force potty training
- Avoid clothes that are difficult to put on and off
- Ignore external pressure
- Don’t worry
Keep calm, offer a lot of support and reassurance and do not be scared by minor setbacks. This is the formulae to use when potty training your toddler.
Approach potty training with the idea that it will take as long as it takes. Do not let your parents or friends dictate the pace you follow, it should be determined only by your toddler. Keep in mind that girls and boys are ready to be potty-trained usually at a different age and that often boys need some more time. One of the reasons is that boys need to acquire a two-step skill – first, they learn how to pee and poop while seating and afterward they need to learn to pee while standing up. To facilitate them, you can use the funny frog baby urinal that will make them feel comfortable and help them learn to aim while having fun.
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