Potty training can be quite a daunting task for most parents. The trick is to relax and take things as they come.
It is well known that boys generally take a little longer to potty train than girls and in general, getting them to poo in the toilet is another whole exercise on its own.
Often, children are subconsciously trained to poo in their nappies because they have done it that way for all their lives, they know no other way.
Generally, they have their own little routines (hiding behind a cupboard, crouching etc) when they make a poo and now you want them to sit high on a cold toilet in a strange position and it is actually quite difficult for them to re-teach their bodies to poo in this manner. Kids must think we’re mad!
They might be scared of the feeling of the poo dropping into the toilet bowl, or the splash it makes, or anything that they might decide is scary or too different and this makes it harder for them to adjust their way of thinking.
In the toddler ages, your child begins to realise that he has control over some things - such as potty training. You decide what and when he will eat, when he will sleep, what he will wear etc. He is exercising control over where he is going to poo because you can’t force him to poo in the toilet.
Also, some children prefer using their nappies rather than the toilet because it is quicker for them and they don’t have to stop what they’re doing (playing, watching TV etc) whereas using the toilet takes a few more minutes.
When to start potty training
There are several different ideas behind toilet training. Some parents start from birth, getting their children accustomed to using the toilet, some start around their child’s second birthday as that is when most children are nearing pre-school age which required them to be toilet ready, and still others wait until their child starts the process (and for some children this can be as old as 4)
I believe in introducing your child to the potty before the “terrible twos” set in. Once your child can sit and walk confidently, buy a potty and leave it in the bathroom. Allow your child to accompany your and your partner to the toilet so they can see what happens.
Getting used to the potty
Once you have a potty for the in the bathroom, you can encourage them to sit on their potty whilst you use the toilet. Even if you work full-time, you can do this on weekends.
You can also encourage your little one to sit on the potty at bath-time whilst you run the bath - the sound of the running water often makes them wee.
This way, you are getting your child used to and comfortable in the toilet before they decide that they ‘Don’t want to!”
If they do use the potty, even by coincidence, congratulate them and show them how you’re going to help him wipe, tip it into the toilet and flush away, then you both wash hands. I do also recommend that you allow your child to sit on the BIG toilet so that it is not scary for them.
Examples of how to potty train your child
Once you decide that your child is ready to start real potty training, go to the shops together. Get some cute panties/underpants together and talk all about the exciting things that they will be able to do when they no longer wear nappies (go to BIG school, no more lying down for nappy changes etc).
Perhaps you can make a star chart to encourage progress, but this is not always needed. Let your child run around in panties and a shirt and take them to the toilet every half hour to 45 minutes and about 20 minutes after a meal/drink.
If they wee in their pants, don’t make a big fuss, It’s just an accident and they can come with you to the bathroom to clean up and change and they can help you rinse their wet/dirty panties.
How to use a star chart
Make up or use a calendar and give a star for every time your child uses the toilet or potty. Once he has reached 5 stars, you can give a bigger sticker or a small treat if you wish. For some children just getting the stars is enough!
If you are really battling to get your child to poo on the potty/toilet, you can alter the star chart.
Take your child to the shops and let him choose something that he wants (obviously not too expensive). Every time he makes a poo on the toilet he can get a sticker on his star chart. Once he gets to 5 stars, he can get the prize, but the poos have to be in the toilet.
Don’t fight with him or make a big deal about it. You don’t want your child to become constipated or ill from holding his poo in for hours or days - this will just make your task even harder in the long run.
Every night before you put on his night nappy, remind him of his prize - keep it where it can be seen but not reached or touched or played with so he doesn’t forget about it, or keep a picture of it close to the toilet - and ask if he’d like to make a poo on the toilet.
You can also involve him in the cleaning up process (if he already isn’t helping). Once he has made a poo in his nappy, make it his job to immediately get you a clean nappy and wetwipes, you can clean him, but it is his job to carry the dirty nappy to the bin, then wash hands.
You could also encourage him to tip the contents of the nappy into the toilet to show where a poo should go, but this doesn’t earn a sticker on his star chart.
I would also take a deep breath and relax. Potty training does happen. I promise your child will not go to big school wearing nappies.
Talk about it with other mums
For those mums interested in early potty training, Google “Elimination Communication” and you should get a lot of information. Typically, this involves being in tune with your child and noticing signs that your child is giving you to tell you that he needs to use the toilet.
I have potty trained early before and I do believe that getting your child used to the potty a few months before you intend intense potty training makes everything a lot smoother.