A Potty Training Plan: Your Road Map to Success
by Teri Brown
Facing potty training for the first time may feel a little like climbing Mt. Everest: You have no idea what it’s going to be like until you’ve done it. Fortunately, potty training is much easier than mountain climbing, but when you’re done, you may feel the same mammoth-sized sense of accomplishment.
Individualize Your Plan
Just like you wouldn’t start out on a climbing expedition without a plan, you shouldn’t start potty training without a plan either. Knowing where you’re going and how to get there is half the battle. Creating a potty training plan doesn’t have to be difficult or complex, but it does have to be suited to your family’s particular needs, beliefs and parenting style.
Janet Cole, a mother of three from Mt. Angel, Ore., created a potty training plan that suited her values and her children’s personalities. She did her research, found a method she liked and implemented it. Although her plan was rough in the beginning stages, she stuck with it because it suited her parenting philosophy.
Dr. Ari Brown, author and pediatrician for the Capital Pediatric Group in Austin, Texas, believes that having a plan is half the battle.
“It’s important to have a potty training plan so you aren’t continually spinning your wheels in the attempt to lose the diapers,” Dr. Brown says. “You will only get frustrated and your child will start to feel a sense of failure if you do this.”
Jeremy G. Schneider is a marriage and family therapist specializing in parenting issues. He believes that choosing an approach can help ensure potty training success. He also thinks it’s important that you give yourself some room to breathe while working on a plan.
“I’m not a believer in the philosophy that you must get your child to be potty trained by a certain date and time,” Schneider says. “Too much pressure! Having a good approach, however, can make a big difference — especially if you begin to introduce your children to idea of learning to use the potty in many different ways.”
Schneider believes a good plan should always begin with gauging a child’s interest. If the child isn’t interested, all the planning in the world won’t matter.
“I think a good approach begins with introducing them to the idea, talking about it when you change their diapers, inviting them to see you use the toilet, buying books and videos about potties, buying a potty chair and making it easily accessible to them,” Schneider says. “If they’re ready, they will try. If they are not, they won’t. Forcing them could make them refuse and fight you on it, causing you both enormous amounts of frustration. Take your lead from them and it will be a much more pleasant experience.”
So you think your child is ready and you’ve put some thought into your parenting style. What’s next? It’s time for a little research. Pull-Ups® online resources, your health care provider, other parents and bookstores are all potential sources of information that can fit your family’s style.
Getting the Right Gear
At this point, it might be a good idea to jot your thoughts down in a notebook. A journal may help you keep track of the most important points of your potty training plan and a list of equipment you will need. The most obvious equipment includes a potty chair, Pull-Ups® Training Pants, underwear and anything else your particular method requires. And don’t forget things for your child to do while sitting on the potty chair! Books, little toys and stickers are all items you may want to have on hand.
“Parents should be prepared with a lot of reading material,” Schneider says. “Kids do not finish with the potty very quickly and you could find yourself spending a lot of time sitting next to them while they are on the potty or toilet. I actually found this to be one of the benefits of the toilet learning process — my relationship with my kids got stronger because of the time we would spend together, one-on-one, while they were on the potty or toilet.” Once you have everything you need, it’s time to put your plan into action. Refer to your journal whenever you feel like you’re getting off course. It’s the equivalent of checking the road map on occasion as you hike up the side of that mountain — and just think of the sense of accomplishment you and your child will experience when you get to the top!
Tips for Creating Your Child’s Potty Plan
- Think about your parenting style. Are you a schedule-driven person? Or are you more into child-led learning? This will help you decide what you are looking for in a potty training method.
- Do some research, check out the Internet, magazines and bookstores for ideas and the merits of different methods. Other parents can also be a great resource.
- Start a journal. Jot down notes from your research, the main points of the potty training method you’ve chosen and the gear you’ll need.
- Pick up the equipment you’ll need to implement your plan.
- Choose a weekend when you’ll be home to implement your plan.
- It’s easiest to start potty training in a familiar place, like the comfort of your home.