It’s all very well setting your New Year’s Resolutions but good intentions will likely fall apart if you don’t have a plan on how to maintain them. The same applies to potty training, or any other development milestone.
In a previous blog post, we covered how to set the stage for toilet training. This time, we wanted to expand on this idea to talk about how to set a routine for potty training.
As a parent, your first thought is probably along the lines of “How can I set a routine for something that has no order?” Potty training is by nature an unpredictable activity, although your child will have certain unique habits and exhibit certain signs when they wish to use the potty. It’s up to you to learn how to recognise the signs as and when they happen.
Why is Routine So Important?
Routine is essential to a child’s life, as it helps them to learn habits and new skills through repetition and logical reinforcement. When there is a rational context to events, it is far easier for children to learn new behaviours and adopt them as standard.
This is another reason why it’s absolutely essential to begin potty training when your child’s routine is stable. We cannot stress this enough! Avoid starting potty training when there are any big changes that might distract from the routine, such as moving house, a new sibling, a parent away for a long period of time or starting playgroup. Any upset to the balance will likely affect your child’s confidence and set the process back.
It’s also important to consider routine in a more basic aspect. Plan your potty training around your regular household routine to ensure you can maintain consistency and put in the effort needed. This also means that the process will become naturally aligned with your daily schedule for best results.
You will want to make the process as easy as possible. Invest in clothes that are easy to pull on and off such as leggings or any trousers without buttons. Equally, make sure your child’s shoes are easy to slip on and off.
You don’t need to spend a fortune – bulk buy in high street shops or online for ease. Encourage your child to take off their own clothes when they go to the toilet. Any opportunity to reinforce independent thoughts and actions will support the process.
Effective potty training begins before your child is ready to start the real process. Bear with us! The bathroom should become the only place associated with potty training. Change your child’s nappy in the bathroom and, when they are a little older, encourage them to come to the toilet when you go to show them that the bathroom is where everyone goes to do their number ones and twos.
Some parents also like to change their child’s nappy standing up as this marks a step towards independence and encourages your child to play an active role in their toilet training from the outset.
Normalise the Routine
A good potty training routine will include: turning the bathroom light on/off at the start/end of the process; putting the loo seat up and down before and after every use; always flushing the toilet; washing hands with soap; drying hands with a towel, and closing the bathroom door behind you both during and after the process. Make sure that you adopt this routine every single time you or another member of the family uses the toilet. Children learn habits by watching grown-ups, so you need to play your own part in the process.
It’s also advisable to use toilet training vocabulary around your child before the process begins. Use the words ‘pee’ ‘poo’ (or whichever phrases your family prefers) to ensure these are part of ‘normal’ everyday chat and that your child is not shy to say them when the right time comes. This also helps little ones to understand how to associate words with the right actions.
Create A New Normal
While no child’s potty routine is an exact science, there are times when it is more common/recommended to have your child use the toilet. Take them to the toilet before naptime and bedtime, and upon waking from a nap or in the morning after a night’s sleep. Encourage them to use the toilet before leaving the house or a car journey to minimize the risk of accidents.
The Gender Question
We have many customers asking us about the difference between potty training boys and girls. The process is generally the same but boys are by and large more difficult to potty train. Involve dad to demonstrate how to stand up and pee into the toilet. It’s up to you whether you encourage your boy to first sit down to pee and poo, or encourage him to pee standing up from the outset.
Personally, we believe that routine should be just that and teaching your child one way to do things only to undo it and teach them another way can prove more disruptive. That’s why we believe in teaching boys to pee standing up from the beginning.
Set the Stage for Success
So your child goes to the bathroom and pulls off their leggings ready to do a pee or poo. But they can’t reach the seat. It’s too heavy to lift, it’s too high to climb up – there are any number of issues. Anticipate such issues and equip your bathroom accordingly.
Invest in a Family Seat. This provides a stable platform where your child will feel safe climbing up and sitting on the toilet seat by themselves. This inspires confidence and independence, all helping to push along the training process.
Put a booster step by the sink so that the whole process from start to finish is fluid. Your child can climb onto the step and let you help them wash their hands.
Stick With It!
Even the most solid routine will have disruptions. Stick with your chosen schedule and keep a cool head – there will almost always be accidents! Keep an eye out during the early stages for the signs that your child needs to go, and take them to the toilet or encourage them to go themselves before an accident takes place. Make note of the times that he/she goes to the toilet for a pee/poo, as these will often be consistent.
Keep a calm, relaxed attitude and avoid putting undue pressure on your child as this will likely lead to setbacks. Ask him/her during the day if their nappy is wet or dry, to help them understand the process. Offer positive reinforcement and keep encouraging your child when they use the toilet correctly. While you might sound like a broken record, children need a lot of repetition and reinforcement to make something a habit.
For advice on any of the topics discussed in this post and all things potty training, get in touch with the team at Family Seat! You can also join our friendly community on Facebook and chat with us on Twitter.