The Big Finish to Potty Training
5/30/2008 | by By Kelly Burgess
Potty training is pretty exciting in the beginning. Everyone’s on board with this big step toward becoming a big boy or big girl. Potty chairs pop up everywhere. Underwear is bought. Successful trips to the potty are praised and celebrated. But what to do when the thrill is gone; when it’s not so exciting to interrupt a fun activity to go to the potty; when wearing diapers seems to be as easy as anything else?
There are kids who sail through potty training without ever a look back. Others lose interest after a week (or two or three) and then step back into the ease of the diaper and forget all the excitement of those early potty training days. These kids may need a little more fun surrounding the process to keep them interested in keeping up with potty training until they’re proficient.
Starting From Scratch?
If your child seems to have lost interest in the whole idea of potty training, starting over and using a different approach may help spark that interest again. Reinforce the whole idea of potty training with some of the many books and videos that are available for children to get them used to the idea of going on the potty. There are also books and videos that come with a doll or stuffed animal that also “goes potty” and is an excellent modeling tool for the child.
Then, plan for a potty-related activity that will be ongoing until the child is reliably using the potty. Mom and potty training expert Vicki Lansky suggests a chart that rewards the child with stickers for successful trips to the potty.
“You can use something as simple as a calendar,” Lansky says. “Letting your child pick out his or her own stickers makes it even more interesting.”
For slightly older children, Dr. Michael F. Wasserman, a pediatrician with Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, La., suggests making potty training fun by offering a little prize at the conclusion of each potty training session. He suggests a jar of pennies, nickels or quarters kept near the potty.
“Older children recognize that money is important and it can be very motivating,” Dr. Wasserman says. “But I would caution any parent not to make it too large of a monetary reward or you can go broke.”
Lansky also notes that the jar can be filled with wrapped gifts, boxes of raisins or a favorite candy.
Some kids may be coming along fine with their potty training but need a little fun for fine-tuning their potty training techniques. Boys, in particular, have an extra step when it comes to potty training as they learn to stand and pee. Jan Kreider, of San Diego, Calif., made this fun for her son, Aaron, by putting cereal pieces in the toilet bowl and having him aim for them. “This is an inevitably messy process so I also had him help clean up after he was done when he missed,” Kreider says. “I think that motivated him even more to aim well so he didn’t have to get out his little bucket and sponge.”
For kids of all ages, be sure that hand-washing techniques are emphasized throughout the process of toilet training. This is particularly important for little ones because they may not have the coordination to keep their hands from touching their bottoms when wiping. Consider a “fun” soap and their own little set of towels.
Ready, or Not?
It would be great if a child was like a battery: when it was fully charged, a signal would appear. Or, in the child’s case, when he or she was ready to start using the toilet a little light would go on for all to see. However, signs of readiness are a little more subtle. That’s why the parent of the backsliding potty trainer needs to first reexamine the situation and be sure that the child isn’t being pushed or encouraged to potty train before he or she is ready.
“People often make decisions about potty training based upon a child’s age, but, regardless of what Grandma says or friends’ kids may have done, there is no magic age when potty training should begin,” says Dr. Wasserman. “A child who is not ready to train may get caught up in the excitement at first, but will not be able to succeed over the long term.”
Dr. Wasserman speaks from experience. One of his children was nearly 4 and still in diapers and the doctor and his wife were beginning to question how far they should push the issue. Then, one day when his wife was changing their son, she asked him if he didn’t think it was time to start potty training. The tot looked her in the eye and said, “I’m not particularly interested in being potty trained.”
Some kids may not be able to articulate their preferences quite so clearly, but a good grounding in potty training readiness, which is available on the Pull-Ups® Web site, can be invaluable.
In addition to age myths, parents need to avoid being caught up in the idea that potty training should be instantaneous. Some children may potty train in a day, but that’s certainly not the norm, Dr. Wasserman says.
“Potty training is a process that will take weeks and you have to think of staying with it over the long term,” Dr. Wasserman says. “Thinking this will be accomplished in a matter of days can lead to too much unrealistic pressure on everyone.”
Looking at potty training from that point of view can help a parent shape their games, rewards and activities to keep them realistic so kids can finish up strong.
Boys Will Be Boys
Here are a few other ideas for helping boys learn to aim:
- In the tub, have him pee into a cup.
- Allow him to go outside when there’s no one around. Have him aim for a leaf or rock.
- Let him “write” in the snow.
- Have Dad show him how it’s done.
iParenting Media Award-winning Potty Training Products
Here are some fun potty training products that have earned the iParenting Media Award:
Peter Potty by Visionaire Products
Peter Potty is a flushable toddler urinal that makes potty training fun for boys – with less clean-up.
Zeets Disposable Potty Seats by Grandma Dot LLC
Take potty training on the road with these portable, single use, kid-sized potty liners. Neither you nor your child will have to touch the public toilet seat!
Potty Elmo by Fisher-Price
If children get Elmo to the potty in time after he drinks from his sippy cup, he sings a reward song, accompanied by fun sound effects.
Potty Time Tinkles by Goldberger Doll Co.
Tinkles the doll drinks water then holds it in, like a real child. When you want Tinkles to wet, you squeeze the tummy and the doll can tinkle in the included potty seat or the real toilet.