Dr Caitlin O’Connor: Tips For Potty Training

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rsz_dr_caitlin_oconnorDr Caitlin O’Connor of Tralee Medical Centre in St Brendan’s Park on all things to do with potty training…

Judging the right moment!

Most parents, particularly those with a first child, spend many hours agonising over how they are going to teach the child acceptable toilet behaviour.

When the child finally masters this essential part of growing up, the parents usually look back and say it wasn’t too difficult after all.

Many parents make it difficult for themselves by insisting on toilet training their child too soon.

Continued below…

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When should I start?

Almost all children under 18 months old usually have a bowel movement or pass water quite automatically. Somewhere around 18 months, your child will begin to make the vital connection between that puddle in the middle of the floor and themselves!

At this age, your child will still be unable to let you know when they are going to ‘perform’ but if they pass a bowel motion or urinate they will now begin to realise that it has something to do with them because they have managed to produce it.

Should I start with the toilet or the potty?

Parents have very mixed views on this one, and there are arguments for and against each option.

It must be said that most parents actually use a potty for toilet training, but if your child is prepared to sit on the toilet just like Mummy and Daddy, then there is no need for the potty at all. Basically, use whatever method works best.

A gentle introduction to the potty – long before the child begins to actually use it – is a good idea. There are a number of gimmicky potties on the market which may amuse a young child and hold their attention long enough for you to be able to explain what is it to be used for.

Bowel training

Bowel training seems to be a lot easier than bladder training, principally because most children only move their bowels once or twice a day.

It is quite obvious to a watching adult that their child is about to open their bowels (red face, lots of effort etc.) and the interval between the need to go and actually producing a motion will probably be long enough for you to go off and fetch the potty.

Don’t be surprised if your toddler is very proud of what they produce after a bowel movement, and it is a good idea not to express any feelings of disgust at what they have done. Faeces may be offensive to an adult, but to a toddler who has just produced this fine specimen, it is quite fascinating.

The fact that adults dispose of their faeces is all part of the growing up process, but if you express disgust at your child’s bowel movement while they are toilet training you are bound to hurt their feelings and they may feel that you find them disgusting too.

Accidents are bound to happen from time to time, but if you wait until your child is ready for bowel training then the whole process will probably be completed within a couple of weeks.

Never force a child to sit on a potty or toilet if they don’t want to. Remember that toilet training can only take place successfully with the voluntary co-operation of a toddler. As most parents know, battling with a strong-willed toddler inevitably leads to certain failure.

Bladder training

Be prepared for bladder training to be a much longer and slower process than bowel training. Children pee so many times during the day that it is going to be a long time before they actually experience success with the potty every time they get the urge.

This is one of the reasons why starting toilet training during the summer months is such a good idea. Your child can be left to run around the garden without any clothes as the experience of feeling and seeing themselves urinate will help them to make the connection between the feeling and what happens next.

If there are accidents, as there will inevitably be, never get angry with your child. Just mop up the puddle without comment, or perhaps say something like hard luck, you just missed the potty…we’ll do better next time.

All children love praise, so if you praise your child every time they get it right, and refrain from scolding them when they have an accident, bladder training should present no long-term problems.

One Comment

  1. Great post! Thanks for the detailed explanation on bowel training and bladder training.

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