A Potty Here and a Potty There
Potty Training in Multiple Locations
6/2/2008 | by
By Sue Marquette Poremba
Very few children will work on potty training at only one location, particularly as they are in the later stages of potty training. Not only do children work on toilet habits at home, but many children spend many hours a day at daycare or at a relative’s house. Some children split time between parents’ homes, too.
How can we keep children on a positive potty training path while reassuring them that even though things might seem different (like not being able to touch the floor on the toilet at Grandma’s house), the ultimate goal is the same?
Lessen the Anxiety
“It’s not a bad idea to anticipate what the child will be exposed to beforehand,” says Dr. Ed Christophersen, a psychologist and potty training expert affiliated with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. Even if it is a home or location the child knows well, he is probably not accustomed to using the bathroom there.
If the child is anxious about using the potty in unfamiliar surroundings, he is more likely to balk at using the toilet and to have an accident. Preparing the child in advance for what to expect before he needs to use the potty will ease his anxiety. If possible, show him the bathroom, let him spend a little time in the room and even let him sit on the toilet seat, especially if he is used to sitting on a potty chair.
“Whenever possible, try to keep potty training consistent between locations,” says Dr. Christophersen. If the child spends a lot of time between two homes, there should be an attempt to use the same system in both places – for example, keeping a potty chair in an easily accessible room or making sure the child is kept on a similar schedule between locations.
When more than one adult is responsible for potty training, you add in another potential layer of inconsistency. Communication is vital between the parent who is responsible for taking the lead on potty training and anyone else who will be involved.
Barbara Schroeder’s two daughters spend their day with a babysitter. When the time came for the older daughter to potty train, Schroeder had a talk with her daughter’s daycare provider.
“You have to work it out with the caregiver so that you are on the same page,” says Schroeder of Emigsville, Penn. “With my older daughter, the babysitter and I worked out a schedule and followed it through together. We used a potty at her house and a seat for the toilet at our house, but this didn’t seem to make much of a difference for my daughter. She was trained for daytime in about a week.”
Now Schroeder and the babysitter are preparing to work on potty training with Schroeder’s younger daughter. Although Schroeder said her daughter is ready, she is waiting until the babysitter is able to spend the extra time needed to be actively involved in the potty training. This is to ensure consistency throughout the little girl’s day.
For some children, it helps having a peer who can be a link between locations, as Alana Morales of Gilbert, Ariz., discovered.
“When my son was in childcare, it actually helped because the boy there was a little older, and he saw him go through potty training and wanted to be big like him,” Morales says. “I also bought the same potty that they had there so that I could duplicate as many of the variables as possible.”
It’s All in the Attitude
Consistency is more than simply having similar potty chairs or making sure the child is kept on similar bathroom schedules. It also means consistent attitudes and outlooks, explains Laurie LeComer, author of A Parent’s Guide to Developmental Delays (Perigee Trade, 2006). She suggests parents and others involved with potty training be consistent in the following areas:
- positive attitudes
Again, this requires communication and careful facilitation between the parent and whoever else will be involved with the potty training. If the child is getting mixed signals from the adults, he may struggle in one location while thriving in another.
“The parent can give others everything needed for successful potty training,” says LeComer. “One idea is to fill a tote with all they might need, such as a foldable potty seat, a book for the child, a sticker chart with stickers, baby wipes, dry underwear and pants.”
And, finally, perhaps one of the most important things to remember when potty training at more than one location: dress your child in clothes that are easy for the child to take off and put back on again, advises LeComer. The fewer the complications, the better!