Potty training – the do’s and don’ts

Written by A. Brits, Parys District Hospital
There is no magical age at which children are ready to start learning how to use the potty. Cognitive and physical skills required to learn this develop between 18-24 month.
Before 12 months, children can`t control their bladder or bowel movements, and some children may show signs of readiness at that age but are still unable to control elimination, Also remember to separate day time and night time dryness as two separate milestones.
* Readiness checklist—this can guide you when you may start with potty training. If most of your answers are: No—you may want to wait a few months,.
* What do we do when we are ready?
Before you do anything—A positive attitude is key and ensure that all the care givers involved are following the same routine.
* Pull out the equipment
Place a potty in the bathroom or initially wherever your child
spend the most of his time.
Encourage the child to sit on the potty—with or without a diaper, feet should be firmly on the ground or a stool.  Help your child understand how to talk about bathroom using simple terms. Let your child see family members using the
Potty training readiness checklist
Physical signs
 Coordinated enough to walk and run
 Urinates a fair amount at one time
 Regular well formed stool at relatively predictable time
 “Dry periods” of at least two hours or during naps—shows that bladder muscles are developed to hold urine
Behavioural signs
 Can sit down quietly for 2-5 min
 Can pull pants up and down
 Dislike feeling of wet or dirty diaper
 Shows interest in other`s bathroom habits
 Gives verbal /physical sign when he is having a bowel movement e.g. grunting, squatting or telling you
 Demonstrated desire for in-dependence
 Takes pride in accomplish-ment
 Not resistant to learning to use the toilet
 Cooperative
 Understands the physical sig-nals that means he has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until he has time to get to the potty.
 Can follow simple instruc-tions e.g. “ Go get the potty”
 Understands the value of putting things where they belong
 Have word for urine and stools
Let the child sit on the potty with or without a diaper for a few
minutes several times a day. Stay with your child and offer
praise and remind him to try again later. Take the potty along
when you visit for consistency.
 Get there—fast !
When the child show signs such as squirming , squatting or
holding the genital area—respond quickly. Teach you child to
know that when he feels like this he should go to the toilet .
Praise the child for telling you when he has to go.
 Ditch the diapers
After several weeks of successful potty breaks, you may trade
the diapers for training pants or underwear. Let your child
pick the underwear. Once your child is wearing the training
pants or underwear—avoid overalls, belts, leotards or items
that hinders undressing.
 Sleep soundly
Most children master daytime bladder control first within two  to three months of consistent toilet training. Nap and night  time control may take longer. In the meantime use disposable training
pants or matrass covers when your child sleeps
 Know when to call it quits– if your child resists/does not get it—stop for a few weeks
 Accidents happen
Offer reminders when your child becomes absorbed in play.
Suggest regular trips to the bathroom e.g first thing in the morning.
Stay calm : Encourage the child to try to do better next time. Do  not shame, scold or discipline.
Be prepared: Use absorbent underwear for frequent
accidents and keep a change of underwear handy.

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