How do I know if my child is ready for potty training?
- He shows an interest in the process of potty training.
- He is able to recognize the feeling of having a dry or wet diaper.
- He is staying dry for longer periods of time during the day.
- He is developing the motor skills to pull pants down and up.
- He is able to follow simple directions.
What are some ways to help my child with potty training?
- Make sure your child’s feet are flat on the floor or a step stool. Having a solid base of support is often necessary to relax the muscles involved in voiding. Some children may benefit from the additional support of arm rests if trunk control is an area of difficulty.
- If your child has a history of gravitational insecurity or seems anxious about sitting on the toilet, start by having him sit on the toilet with the lid down, fully clothed. Slowly move toward having him sit on the toilet with their clothing or diaper on, then finally transition to sitting with a bare bottom. Another modification is to allow your child to sit astride the toilet, facing the tank and holding onto the raised toilet lid for stability.
- Children who are over responsive to auditory input may react negatively to the bathroom in general because of the tendency of sounds to amplify and echo off tile and other hard surfaces. Speak in a quiet voice when in the bathroom. Try hanging extra towels in the room to help absorb sound. If your child is bothered by the sound of the toilet flushing, let him use the toilet, wash his hands and leave the bathroom before you flush. When in a public restroom, place a sticky note or hold a piece of paper towel over the automatic flush sensor to avoid an unexpected flush.
- Children who are under responsive to proprioceptive input may be constantly “on the go”, seeking intense movement and crashing experiences or seem unaware of their own bodies, bumping into people and objects, unintentionally breaking toys or seem to be more clumsy than peers. These children may not notice the subtle signs that they need to use the bathroom until it is too late. Watch for those wiggles, squirms or holding onto the genital area that are telltale signs your child needs to use the bathroom. Point them out to your child and help him transition to the bathroom.
- Some children find it very difficult to transition from a desired activity to the bathroom. Use terms such as taking a “break” or a “pause” from an activity rather than telling your child he needs to “stop” what he is doing to use the bathroom. Giving 5-minute and 1-minute warnings prior to a bathroom break may be helpful. Visual timers can be useful for transitions as well. Be sure to praise your child for transitioning to the bathroom and make it a point to discuss the fact that the desired activity they left is still available to return to after he is finished.
- Use a rewards system. Some families use sticker charts, others use edible treats. Pick something that will be a strong motivator for your child. Start by giving the chosen reward for each successful attempt at using the potty, then move to extending the reward for staying dry for a morning or afternoon period and finally to staying dry all day.
- Give boys something to aim at when urinating such as Cheerios or Fruit Loops. Award points for “hitting the targets”.
- Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for children to wet the bed up to 6 or 7 years old. It may be necessary to use nighttime pull-ups or training pants for quite a while after daytime training is complete.