5/30/2008 | by By Teri Brown
Sometimes potty training can seem like quite an undertaking. As a conscientious parent, you know you need to watch for signs of readiness, create a plan keeping your child’s personality in mind and stay consistent with that plan. But what happens when you’re potty training more than one child at the same time? Is it double the trouble?
Rosemary*, a mother of twins from Sydney, Australia, found potty training two children at one time to be very frustrating. “I was trying to keep track of two little kids and how long it was since they d last been and then trying to negotiate the whole process of regular visits to the bathroom, etc.,” Rosemary says. “There were lots of puddles and twice as much washing, and they both used to get so upset when they wet or soiled themselves. My own frustration levels were high, too.”
Potty training multiples or children extremely close in age can make a parent feel like she’s spinning her wheels, but the same principles apply as when potty training a single child.
Every Child is Different
Dr. Barbara Howard is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and the producer of the potty training video It s Potty Time. She says potty training a child is a very individual experience, even if you are training more than one at the same time.
“Each child, even in a twin situation, is an individual and will potty train differently,” says Dr. Howard. “There is an often leap frog pattern of development so it is hard to say they will be ready at the same time. And because development doesnt follow a smooth linear path, you can’t expect potty training to.”
Dr. Howard believes one of the benefits of training more than one child at a time is the competitive aspect of it. One child will see the other using the potty chair or wearing underwear and the other one wants to try it, too. It is important, however, to avoid comparing one child to another. Neither child should be put under any pressure to outperform the other child.
Trina* from Englewood, Col., found that her twins are competitive enough on their own and that it can be quite motivating. “I tried hard not to make comparisons, but in the end, the competitive urges of our twins seemed to compel them on their own to learn what to do,” says Trina. “What one wanted to be able to do the other wanted to be able to do, too.”
Tips and Tricks
The following tips and tricks from Dr. Howard can help you successfully potty train your young ones – no matter how many there are!
- Be prepared to individualize the potty training plan. Some children react very well to enthusiastic praise while others would rather be low key about it. Some react well to tangible reward plans like stickers while others could care less. Know what works for each particular child.
- Let your potty training children watch one another. Modeling desired behavior can work wonders with a reluctant child.
- Remember to be ready for instant reaction. Children do not have a lot of control at this time, and sometimes when they say they have to go it means they are going! Their control will gradually increase, but during the early stages especially, you are going to want to stay close.
- Have more than one potty chair around the house. This will enable your little ones to be more successful at getting to a chair in time and keep the competition for sitting in a potty to a minimum.
- Stay close to home. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make it to a public bathroom with a young potty training child. It’s hard enough within the home let alone in the mall with a stroller, bags and other children. Remember you’re trying to set your child up for success, not frustration!
- You may not want to let boys stand up to urinate until they are fully potty trained. It may only confuse them, and if your other potty training child is a girl it will be confusing for him as well!
- Dont put your child in cloth underwear until they’re fairly successful with their PULL-UPS® Training Pants. Accidents can embarrass and shame your child, especially in front of siblings.
Potty training can be frustrating, particularly when you are potty training more than one child, but it doesn’t have to be. With an individualized plan, a little consistency and a lot of patience, you will soon be onto the next stage of your child’s exciting journey.