Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Prepare Your Child for Potty Training (part 1)

I had the privilege of writing for the e-book Parenting Responsively along with 11 other ACPI parent and family coaches.  Over the next few weeks I will be reprinting my chapter.  I hope you will enjoy it.  If you would like to order the entire book you may do so on my website for $9.99 - Strong Roots Family Coaching.  Enjoy

              Preparing your child for the transition from diapers to underwear can start at a very young age.  Even a child under the age of one is beginning to understand the world around him.  In fact, even a six month old wants to do the things you do.  Use this to your advantage and model the positive behaviors you want your child to mimic.  Remember, if your goal is to get your child to eat his food with a fork, you'll need to show him that you eat your food with a fork and praise him as he tries to do the same. 

                The technique of modeling and imitating is not only successful with teaching appropriate mealtime manners; it's a wonderful tool that can be used during toilet training. To some parents, taking their child with them to the bathroom may sound crude and raise feelings of discomfort, but the reality is that your child needs to see you using the toilet to understand that doing it is a normal and expected event.  If you lock yourself in the bathroom every time you go, your child will never have a chance to witness this natural experience.  In fact, if you only use the toilet behind closed doors, your child may even grow to think that something mysterious and strange goes on in the bathroom, which can create and breed fear.  By treating using the toilet like any other habit, you show your child that using it is just one more thing he will learn to do on his own. 

                It is often said that boys potty train later than girls. If we stop and think about this, is it because mothers tend to do most of the training and boys are not exposed to seeing their father's use the toilet regularly? I think this could be the case. That's why it is important for your child to witness the same gender using the potty.  If your little boy never sees another older male use the potty standing up, it will make the process of teaching him to urinate standing up much more difficult. 

                Your bathroom vocabulary is another important part of the potty training process.  Using language that your child can understand and even repeat at young ages is key to developing your potty training language.  Though it may be embarrassing for you when your child says he has to go poop in grocery store, most people will understand and laugh with you, not at you.   Decide what words you will use and be consistent with using them.  “Tinkle”, “poop” and “toilet” are popular, recognizable words that many parents use.  Using the word potty when your child goes in his diaper and the word toilet when he goes on the toilet can also help build your child's potty training understanding.  Saying, "you went potty” when your child just soiled his diaper can be confusing if you also use this language when he goes on the toilet.  Using different words and phrases will help separate the two experiences.  If your child is in daycare, you'll also want to be sure to communicate your potty training vocabulary with his caregiver so that she can support your child during this process as well as understand what he's trying to communicate when he has to go.

Please see the next weeks post (or subscribe to this blog) to hear the rest of the chapter on Potty Training without a Power Struggle

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