There is much to be said for setting the stage before you begin potty training. Little ones need to know what’s expected of them and will need your guidance.
A child who has become familiar with bathroom procedures and equipment is more likely to become trained quickly and easily than one who has not. How can you best do this?
Let them watch: Take your little one into the bathroom with you. If your toddler has any older siblings, they can also help. Brothers or sisters are often pleased to act as role models. It’s important to note that toddlers are shown how to use the potty while sitting down. This is because standing to pee is an advanced skill your little one will take a while to master (and, for the time being, will lead to quite a mess).
Of course, other children would always like to show off their potty skills to your child. If your child is in childcare, they can watch how their peers use the potty and will most likely imitate them. In fact, this can actually speed up the process significantly.
Have a potty in the bathroom on which your toddler may sit on, even with clothes on, perhaps while you are in the bathroom, but only if they want to. The intent is not to get results but to provide familiarity with the equipment. The idea is to have your child sit on the potty and become comfortable being on their own little throne.
Let your child flush the toilet for you to help them get used to the noise it makes and avoid possible fear later on. Also, it can be helpful to “wave bye-bye” to the pee or poo as it drains out. This makes it fun for little ones!
Take notice: Comment on signs you notice, such as the child’s pausing in play or walking as if they are uncomfortable after elimination. Use statements such as, “It looks like you are going poop,” rather than asking the general question, “What are you doing?” Asking your little one to tell you when their nappy is wet or messy is another way of increasing awareness.
Move nappy changes: Changing the nappy in the bathroom will start associating the process with the place.
Choose terms: Although much ado has been made about using the proper terminology for body parts and functions, you should use the words that come most easily to you and your toddler. “Peeing” may be more effective than “urinating”, for example. However, you should use specific terms. “Going to the bathroom” may be too vague. “Go pee on the potty” is not.
Try not to use words that will make your little one think of their bodily functions as dirty or disgusting. For example, avoid saying things like “dirty,” “stinky,” “yucky,” etc.
Help your child learn the meaning of the terms “before” and “after” by using them yourself in other contexts, such as, “After I eat dinner, I will clean up the dishes.”
Talk about the advantages of being potty trained:
- No more nappy rash
- No more interruptions for nappy changing
- The pleasure of being clean and dry
Discuss training as an essential stage of growing up. If your child is ready to use the potty, they will probably be able to understand you.
Practice: Let your child practice lowering and raising their trousers sometimes or putting them on and taking them off. Pull-ups are also great for teaching them this concept.
Role play: Sit your child’s favourite doll or action figure on a pretend toilet, explaining, “the baby is going pee-pee in the potty.”
Use books and videos: You can start reading “potty” books to your child or watching potty videos. Books and videos can really make the whole potty process a lot easier!