Toileting, toilet learning, toilet training, house training, potty training, pot train, or dropping the kids at the pool, no matter what we call toileting there are some common tips that all training techniques share.
Let's take a look at some common techniques and then some tips being used by many parents today.
Undieless Technique or Bare Bottom Technique
Literally take their nappy off, prepare yourself (mentally and cleaning supply wise), stay home, be consistent with the bare bottom and they learn. The theory behind this method is that without nappies or any kind of covering, children are more aware of their bowel motions due to the nature of it running down their legs. They learn quickly when they are going and when they are not because the connection between their brain and the physical act of moving their bowel becomes apparent and thus easier to learn.
I’m the BOSS Technique - Otherwise known as ‘I am a strong independent child and I do not need your help’ or Toilet Learning
Your child takes the lead with this technique. They go when it suits them and when they are ready. Depending on which your independent child chooses, it will be in a nappy they remove as they go, in undies they have chosen to wear themselves or nappy pants they have indicated they would like. Feel the theme? Independence and autonomy is a big for this technique. It is also referred to as toilet learning as the child is learning at their own pace rather than being trained at an adult’s pace.
Water Overload Technique aka Practice makes perfect
More water or liquids consumed the better. The more they drink, the more they wee. Children can then practice the feeling of needing to wee, learn to hold it, and then practice the act of physically using the potty or toilet more frequently. The more they go, the better they understand their body and its needs.
Parent led Toilet Training for those of late bloomers or early starters
This technique is often used when the child is not showing any signs of readiness to begin using the toilet or potty. But the parents are ready and they would like to begin initiating toileting. Parents would encourage children to be more inquisitive about toilet training and help children learn about their bodies and bowel movements in a deliberate manner.
The Rewards Programme and Institute of Treats Inc
Is your parenting style ‘bribe and conquer’? Well this technique will work a treat for you. Each time the child has a bowel movement in the potty or toilet, there is a prize. Prizes vary in what your child loves the most, but it can range from stickers, marshmallows, cars or TV time. Find what motivates your child to do their pee and poo and give it to them!
Nature will take care of it aka the lawn is getting fertilized this season
This technique is commonly used during summer and is a close cousin to Undieless Technique. Like Undieless technique there is a bare bottom but unlike Undieless technique it is done outside and infrequently. It’s like a practice run and a run up to full toilet learning. They have the freedom to learn but then also to place a nappy back on at their choice.
So what is the secret to any of these techniques becoming successful toileting?
Well let me tell you, it’s not just one but many secrets (well not so secret now) that lead to successful toileting. Here are some factors to consider.
Your brain development plays quite a big role in toileting readiness. Your brain is the one who holds the flood gates and releases on your command. Just like a muscle movement this has to be flexed and developed into muscle memory. Cognitive readiness might be shown by children taking their own nappy off when wet or soiled, telling you they have done a pee or poo, has dry spells for about 2-3 hours, investigates his or her body equipment and what happens inside a nappy, doing some squatting, grabbing at their nappy, crossing legs, grunting and grimacing during a bowel movement or retreating to a corner or behind the couch for some privacy. You may not identify all of these signs for your child but they will show a handful of them, indicating their brain connection between happening and doing is beginning to develop.
The key to understanding emotional readiness is first realising that everyone is ready at different times. Even though your child might be showing some cognitive readiness they may not have the emotional maturity to be successful with their toileting journey. Some emotional readiness your child might show is through communicating verbally or non verbally other sensations, such as hunger or tiredness, understanding what the toilet or potty is really for, great satisfaction is achieved by ‘doing it themselves’, a desire to imitate you or others or an emerging interest in dressing and undressing themselves independently. Think of it as, if their heads aren’t in the game (the toileting game), their success rate might not be as high as you would like.
Just as your child is showing readiness you also need to be ready too. If you are not fully prepared mentally, physically or by drowning in new undies, toileting can become a stressful learning experience and the results will vary widely in success. Choose a time when you can be at home predominantly, you’re not preoccupied by work, older siblings or new babies, moving house, renovating or anything that will take your mind off of this crucial learning experience.The best time is when you are feeling the most positive and understanding of the world and you feel you can tackle anything with a calm mind and an open heart.
Now that your children are cognitively, emotionally and fully supported by their parents ready, they need to be able to actually get on the thing! Take stock on if your child can physically get onto and off of the potty or toilet, do you need a stool and a toilet insert to make it achievable? Do they have gross motor skills to get the technique for squatting into a sit? Do they have fine motor skills for wiping in a controlled way, cos who really wants poop on their toilet seats and bathroom walls? Who will be doing the wiping is now what you are thinking. Do they have the spatial awareness and balance to stay put on a toilet or potty? Are they able to take their own pants down or you helping them every time? All great questions that you can answer and then be happy with the response for you and your children.
If your children are on their toileting journey you are bound to experience regression. This is a perfectly normal behavior, slight regression is perfectly fine so long as you continue to see an improvement each day. If you do notice that your child is resisting and regressing too much, then it is an excellent idea to try again a week later. Regression is heavily influenced by success. If your child does not feel they are being successful, they will emotionally and cognitively begin to lose their confidence or readiness. It's important to stay positive through regression and reassure yourself and your children that it’s okay, tomorrow or next week is another day to try again.
Some other tips that you might find helpful but you may not want to try with every technique mentioned above;
- Lead by example, probably don’t want to get into the ‘nature will take care of it technique’ here. Not sure how the neighbours would feel about seeing you squat on the lawn? Let your children be in the bathroom with you. See how you wipe, see it all! Not sure which Mum is peeing on her own, but I’d like to meet them! Guys, it's time to take a seat for your boys. They need to learn to sit before they can graduate to standing.
- Potty or Toilet? The age old question. Do what suits you and your child. You might have a potty in the lounge, and you encourage them to use the toilet later on. Or you might begin straight on the toilet or have both options. It really is up to you and neither hinders the others' success. Talk to your child about their preferences or consider your convenience.
- To Nappy Pants or not to Nappy Pants? Phew, there is big debate about this one. For some of the techniques like ‘undieless’ it would be counter productive because it is like putting a nappy back on and the child loses the new learning made with observing their body functions so closely but then for ‘parent led’ this would be a great introduction to learning about the body and its functions. Make this choice once you have chosen your preferred technique.
- Remind thou shalt not? Reminding your child to use the bathroom can be seen as counter productive. I don’t often have someone asking me to use the bathroom because I have learnt to feel the trigger and know when I must go. Learning this trigger is really crucial for successful toilet learning and only your child can learn it, it can’t be taught.
- Patience is a virtue, repeat it with me now, patience is a virtue! I know it’s hard but there could be lots of mistakes. Think of it more as a learning experience rather than an annoyance. They can learn how to take their wet clothes off with your assistance, learn to wipe and clean their body and the importance of hygiene or learn the language around toileting and making mistakes. Sometimes pooping on a potty or toilet can be a tricky task to learn. Be patient, it will come out regardless and it will be learnt in time.
- Accidents happen so DON”T PANIC. If your child begins weeing don’t yell across the room to get on the potty or into the bathroom. Tempting as it is, just accept the mistake and remember patience is a virtue. Panic causes chaos and confusion, best avoided when learning a new skill.
- Access, Access, Access. I’m talking about easy pants or clothes to take on and off, stools to climb up and off, soaps to bubble and love, a sense of humor for you, creative marketing (for the toilet or potty), making it exciting, exciting to learn and be a grown up about. Make it an easier hill/toilet to climb and it will bring more success.
- Oodles of Fancy undies. Let your children choose and choose a lot and don’t be afraid to buy more! If you have enough there is no stress about washing and drying quickly enough to keep them in undies. Plus if they choose they won’t want to wee or poo in their favorite paw patrol knickers!
- Privacy. Some children need it and some don’t. Respect their choice and make it their own. If your child is really comfortable and lacks the need for privacy, have a discussion with them about when you should shut the door and when they don’t need to worry. Opening the public toilet door when I’m on the toilet is not respecting my need for privacy. And Vice Versa, if your child needs help and they are so private they don’t ask, discuss with them that accidents happen and you would rather they asked for help rather than feeling isolated, or blocking the toilet.
- Being and becoming comfortable with the process for you and your children. You could place (wipeable!) books in the bathroom to make the environment more inviting. Answer those hard to answer questions the best you can or do your research before you begin on how you would like to answer. Teach your children the correct words for their body parts and for their actions. Putting a label on what they are doing makes any developmental skill easier to learn. Saying these correct terms as comfortably as you would arm or leg, is crucial. Children will pick up on tones that you are uneasy about these mysterious body parts, they are apart of us and they prove a function just as an arm or leg.
- Dry through the night? Nighttime bladder control usually occurs later, because it requires the ability to suppress the urge to wee during sleep, or the advance skill of awakening from sleep to the signal of a full bladder. It’s a skill that comes with age.
- FLUSHING!!!! Make sure to flush the toilet after your child has come off of the toilet. Nothing worse than a quick splash to the bottom and a roaring flush to put someone off of toilet use for life. Children do better when they are involved with the flush and it becomes less terrifying and nothing like it would happily suck you away down the bowl.
Good luck! And remember, take it easy, its not a race