Toddlers are all about gaining independence. Learning to use the potty is a big step, and very exciting for everyone involved. The bridge from diapers to independence can seem long and rickety to parents. The process will be easier if you understand that your child is the one to build that bridge, not you.
Magination Press’s Terrific Toddlers series, written by Carol Zeavin and Rhona Silverbush, covers the day-to-day dramas most experienced by toddlers and the adults who care for them. This revolutionary and unique series is the first ever to handle the topics in carefully researched, developmentally appropriate ways for toddlers.
Here’s an excerpt from the Note to Parents and Caregivers in Terrific Toddlers’ Potty!, providing tips about how to support your toddler as they learn to use the potty.
Your child needs these two things in order to succeed in potty training:
Physical readiness: Children need to…
- Feel the sensation of needing to pee and poop,
- Understand what the sensations mean, and
- Control the muscles that hold and let go.
This takes neurological development that happens at different rates for different children.
Emotional readiness: At the same time, children need to…
- Understand what is expected of them, and
- Follow step-by-step instructions.
Sometimes they must also overcome fears—of the elimination process itself, (what other parts of me will fall out?), or of the toilet and its loud flush and the gush of water that could suck them down with their poop.
Some ways you’ll know when their bridge building has begun:
- They seek out squishy substances like play dough and mud,
- They find a way to tell you they are noticing full or wet diapers,
- They become obsessively curious about others’ toileting habits,
- They stay dry longer,
- They start refusing diapers.
To help them build their bridge it’s best not to:
- Compare your child with others,
- Equate potty training with maturity,
- Punish accidents—your child really can’t help it,
- Overdo prizes—their own accomplishment is their own reward.
…and it’s best to:
- Stay calm and matter-of-fact,
- Be prepared for accidents,
- Expect variation—sometimes something will come out, sometimes it won’t—two steps forward, one step back…
They may shout, “No!” a lot, but your children really do want your approval, and they know you want them to use the potty. Eventually they will gain mastery over their bodily functions, and they will be as pleased and proud as you are. Remember—barring a disability that prevents it, every child becomes potty trained. Yours will, too!
Related Books from Magination Press
This reassuring potty training book for toddlers offers insight into the many stages that kids can be in. Includes more information about supporting toddlers as they build the bridge to potty training.