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How to Transition Away from Command-Led Potty Training

One of the most difficult parts about parenting is that there are many stages to every milestone and they don’t always unfold in a harmonious way. Take potty training. One of the most important elements of a successful potty-training process is encouraging your child by helping them to learn that they should signal their need to use the loo. This usually involves gentle – and regular – reminders especially in the early stages which gradually taper down as time goes on.

But the problems come when children learn to rely on this command-led training and lose the ability to go to the toilet on their own without a push. This can lead to an issue called withholding when they won’t go even when they feel the urge as mum or dad hasn’t prompted them. Withholding often (inevitably) leads to accidents which is a slippery slope towards regression. But don’t panic. You are not the first parent to encounter this issue.


 Discover the Why

Just like many other issues, there is usually a far deeper issue present when your child starts to withhold. Assess the situation to see whether there is anything obvious that may have impacted their behaviour. A new sibling? A house move? Are they playing up in other areas, making it a general behaviour issue or a cry for attention? If there is an obvious cause, then this may not be so much a potty-training issue but your toddler is struggling with something bigger.

Hand over the Control

You may have been the one giving the commands up until now but an effective way to shift your toddler’s behaviour is to flip this on its head. Give them the control by – for example – giving two options and asking them to choose. For example, if you’re about to go out to a friend’s house, say: “I can see you need to wee. Are you going to wee now or when we get to Sophie’s house?” Avoid any leeway, for example, don’t hesitate or phrase it as if it’s an option.

A great help with handing over control is to utilise the potty training tools supplied with your Family Seat. Your child can signal their need to go to the loo by hanging or presenting the Family Seat door hanger and then gain a tick on the potty training chart. This both hands over an element of control to your child and also rewards their actions by telling you what they need.

Give in to Bribery

We like to talk about realistic parenting as opposed to a fairy-tale that just won’t cut it in our busy, stressful day-to-day lives. Bribery is an effective way of dealing with a problem more quickly before it becomes a habit. Let your child know that they will gain a reward for every time they tell you they need to use the loo, such as extra iPad time. Start slowly and work your way up – perhaps you can start by rewarding them for immediately going to the loo when you remind them, then work towards them doing it entirely of their own accord.

Make Things Fun

Some children don’t acknowledge their need to use the loo because they find it boring and don’t want to stop what they’re doing, which will naturally be more fun (playing with friends or watching TV). It’s up to you to make using the toilet fun again by telling stories, singing songs, or giving rewards (as above).

Good luck!

The Family Seat is built with an ergonomic, solid construction resulting in a strong, stable seat to give your child confidence during the potty-training process. For advice on any aspect of potty training and for any help purchasing a Family Seat, email our team at . Family Seat supports the children’s communication charity I CAN, who are experts in helping children to develop the language, speech and communication skills that they need to thrive in our 21st-century world.  We donate 50p to I CAN on each and every seat purchased through the official Family Seat website. 


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