Potty Training: You Are Bound to Succeed at Some Point

Lisa Doublestein recently approached me with a request for an interview for the May, 2011 issue of Start Early, Finish Strong, a publication of Wayne RESA Early Childhood Services. Below is the article that resulted from that interview, reproduced here by permission.

Q: My mother thinks I should be potty-training my 2-year-old, but I just don’t have time to do it right now! I want to wait until he’s 3. Am I waiting too long?

A: There are many stories in parenting circles about parents who potty train their kids in one day, or kids who simply decide to start using the potty. But for most families, potty training takes time and patience – and if you don’t have those requirements right now, then you’re doing the right thing.

Oftentimes, kids will show an interest in using the potty between 18 and 24 months of age. “Children at this age like to imitate adults and like to be praised,” says Dr. Anna Strumba, a pediatrician at West Bloomfield Pediatrics. She recommends starting the process when children are 2, unless they aren’t interested or parents and caregivers can’t devote time just then.

“A child who can walk and talk, who can show you by gesturing or words what she needs, could be potty trained,” Dr. Strumba says. “She still will need your help with getting her to the bathroom and undressing. The child’s role is to let you know that she needs to go.”

She says to pick a low-stress week or two, and start a routine of using the potty when your child is most likely to go – for example, right after waking in the morning or from a nap, and after a good meal. “Each time the attempt is successful, you should reward your child by clapping, kissing, singing and dancing.”

If your child doesn’t potty but tries, praise him for the effort. He’ll be more likely to try again if there’s no pressure. “During the day, you will have to do bathroom trips every two hours or so,” Dr. Strumba says.

“At this stage, your child still needs diapers or Pull-Ups. When you do it consistently for several weeks, then move on to cotton during the day and a Pull-Up at night.”

She stresses that potty training shouldn’t be a battle. “If your child is ‘on strike,’ leave him alone for some time and return to potty training later. Never push if your child has constipation. And remember: most people that we see around us are potty trained, so you are bound to succeed at some point.”

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