Parents often ask pediatricians about the best time and method for potty training. Like many behavioural issues, there are no concrete answers to this question. Reaching this developmental milestone can be difficult for both the child and the parents. To facilitate potty training, physicians should inform parents of the "child-centred" approach before the process begins, and should be prepared to offer guidance to parents as the child learns to potty train.
How do I know when my child is ready?
Your child is probably ready to be potty trained if he :
- is interested in the potty (e.g., watching you or enjoying potty training books).
- remains dry in its layer for several hours.
- has regular, predictable bowel movements or knows when he or she is urinating and passing stool. For example, your child may move to another room or hide behind a piece of furniture.
- is solid and well balanced when sitting on the toilet or potty.
- can follow one or two simple guidelines.
- can let you know when to use the pot.
- wants to be autonomous.
Potty training doesn't happen overnight. It can take 3 to 6 months before your child can get out of diapers for good.
Make sure you have enough time to patiently help your child every day. If other people are involved in your child's care, tell them about your plans. It is important that everyone works together and in the same direction.
A natural and spontaneous process, not a learning process!
In all cultures and societies, the average age for this acquisition is 2.5 to 3 years. And this, whatever the way in which the adult intervenes in this process and accompanies the child. A real sphincter control is acquired when the child can be attentive to his internal sensations, know how to analyse them and therefore know and decide when it is necessary to go to the toilet (and not only when the adult tells him) It is a physiological need and not a desire, as is commonly said. It is a spontaneous and natural process.
In our western societies, for a long time, we did not know that we could trust the child's developmental capacities, and that it was important to respect its maturation. It is from this state of mind and from this fear that the habit and the belief that the child must be taught and inculcated with "cleanliness" comes. We find the moralizing side of this term: the child would go from dirty to clean. Moreover, dirt and poo are often confused, for example when the child is told that "dirt on the floor is poo".
Faeces are still too often commented on as "beautiful" oh, that's a nice gift!" or dirty, "Oh, it stinks!" No, it's just biological. Neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly. This training started early: it was about giving the child habits, conditioning. The more adults are afraid that the child won't be able to acquire this capacity of control, (and therefore won't be able to be enrolled in school for example), the more they want to "work on it early".
But this is not how a child develops.
Key stages of potty training
1 - Don't force it! Children become "potty trained" first during the day. Then, generally, night-time cleanliness comes a few months later.
2- Choose the right time for your child! The right time is when the child shows signs of being ready, since he or she should not be forced to be potty trained.
3- Familiarize your child with the potty! Since the potty is more stable than the big toilet, your child feels more secure in it. When sitting on the potty, your toddler can put his feet flat on the floor and lean on it. The day will come when you can use the adaptable seat. Your toddler will probably ask you to go on the "big toilet" himself.
4- Establish a routine! when you wake up, after meals and snacks, and before naps, baths and bedtime.
5- Switch to cloth pants! Is your child starting to use the potty often? Don't put him in diapers during the day. He will be more motivated to stay dry if he wears cloth pants or training pants.
6- Do away with the diaper at bedtime! He stays clean all day? And his diaper has remained dry for several naps? It's time to remove it.
If your child refuses to have a bowel movement on the potty
Your child may refuse to go to the potty or toilet, especially if he or she does not have foot support. In this case, let your child poop in a diaper to prevent constipation. Constipation can make bowel movements painful. If your child is in pain, it will probably take longer for him to become potty trained. If you are concerned that your child is constipated, ask your doctor for advice. Your child will have much more success with potty training once constipation is treated.
When should I talk to my doctor about potty training?
Consult your doctor if your child :
- - is not yet using the toilet at age 4;
- - has used the toilet well for at least 6 months, but now seems to be regressing;
- - holds his stool, has pain when he goes to the potty or has blood in his stool
- - has redness or a rash around the vulva, cloudy or smelly urine, or suddenly seems to need to go to the bathroom more often or cannot wait.
It's not a big deal if your child relapses when you thought he was potty trained. Above all, don't hold it against him and, once again, be patient. Potty training always ends up being learned once and for all!