Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Potty Training the Older Child (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

(View the previous post on Potty Training without the Power Struggle)

               If you have a child that is already over three and a half and you have been trying to potty train for some time without success, you are probably frustrated and out of ideas. Resist the temptation to beat yourself up; it will not help your child.  Today is a new day.  It is not too late to help your child potty train while keeping his dignity intact.  

                There is usually a window of potty training readiness that every child has.  This window starts after a child is both physically and emotionally ready and generally lasts between four to nine months.  A majority of children are physically ready to potty train by four years of age.  By this point, if your child has not shown you that he has bladder control, speak to his doctor because there could be a physical problem.  If he is able to control his bladder, the issue may be his emotional readiness.   This is no one’s fault.  Some children are simply more sensitive to using the toilet than others.

                If you are trying to “undo” a lot of negative feelings from past toileting experiences’, using a positive phrase is going to be one of the most important things you can do to encourage your child.  “I know you are trying so hard and someday you will be able to use the toilet all the time” will need to be repeated over and over in many different ways.  Be extra tender in your invitations for him to sit on the toilet.   Lots of love, encouragement and patience are the only way to get him emotionally ready to successfully toilet train.   

                Your child has a need for some control in his life and needs to be able make some decisions on his own.  If your child is not given the opportunity to make any choices, he will feel like his choices have been taken from him.  For some children, feeling like their choice was taken away can delay training. 

                There are a few things your child has complete control over in his life.  One is what he puts into his body.  You may offer your child different foods, but ultimately he chooses what he eats.  Another is what comes out. Remember, your child has complete control over when and where he puts his waste.  So, if you are engaged in a major power struggle with your child over potty training, try giving him more control over other things in his life.  If you are able to give him some of the control he needs, he will be more willing to allow you to guide him through the potty training process. 

                Giving him more choices in the potty training experience can also foster success.  Let him pick out what day he will start to wear underwear again, whether he uses a toilet chair or an insert, what videos or books he reads, and even which bathroom in the house he uses.  All of these little details seem insignificant to us, but to your child, making these choices could give him the sense of control he needs to cooperate in the training process.

                With understanding, sensitivity and compassion, your child will find the mental and emotional strength to use the toilet.  But what do you do when you have a child that has been potty trained for months or years, then suddenly begins having frequent accidents?

                There is a certain amount of bedwetting and accidents that will occur during the months after successfully potty training your child.  It is common and even normal for occasional nighttime accidents to occur several years after your child is fully potty trained.  Accidents may happen because of a change in diet or consuming large amounts of liquid before bed.   They can even happen as a result of a bad dream or stressful experience.  Most every child has at least a few nighttime accidents after being completely trained.

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

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