4 Steps for Potty Training Before Preschool
12/1/1984 | by Jen Singer
The date looms on your calendar: The first day of preschool. How come? Because your soon-to-be preschooler isn't yet potty trained. You remind him of this every single day, and yet, he seems unfazed, as though you've just mentioned that you're out of cauliflower. He just turns away and keeps playing with his toy trucks while your stomach churns, because if he isn't potty trained by fall, the school won't accept him. What's a parent to do?
Most preschools require children to be fully day-time potty trained -- no exceptions. Yet, some kids starting preschool still wear Pull-Ups® daily, and/or have frequent potty training accidents. If your child is one of them, take heart: You are not alone.
Here are four things to consider that may help make it happen before school starts in the fall:
1. Make sure the problem isn't physical. If your child is constipated, he may resist going on the potty. Make sure he has plenty of fiber and fluids, such as apple juice and water, cut back on his dairy intake and take him to the pediatrician, who may prescribe stool softeners if your child is constipated.
2. Figure out if he's afraid of the toilet. Perhaps a big (scary) public toilet frightened him, or he nearly fell into the toilet at Grandma's house. Once you determine the reason for his fear, you can adjust accordingly. Use a portable potty for a while before switching to the toilet when he's ready, or place a secure, kid-friendly potty ring over the toilet. You know your child best, so do some sleuthing to determine what creative solution will help him along.
3. Ramp up the rewards. Some kids get so engrossed in playing, they see no need to stop what they're doing to use the toilet. For these kids, it's best to determine what kind of (reasonable) incentives would get them to go on the potty. For my boys, it was a series of ever-changing stickers that I affixed to their shirts. (tip: remove them before they hit the clothes dryer!) For other parents, M&Ms, little toys, temporary tattoos and The Potty Dance have worked. Remember, when one reward stops working, change it up.
4. End the power struggle. Recently, my neighbor was so besieged by a power struggle with her three year old, potty training came to a screeching halt. So I stepped in, offering special stickers for every time her daughter peed or pooed in the toilet. When she got 10 stickers, she would come to my house and get a very cool talking bear. Wouldn't you know, our little pooper stopped at nine stickers and refused to go! But instead of getting into a power struggle with her, I told her that I'd keep the bear until she's ready to go, and then I didn't say anything else about it. A week later, she went on the potty and she got the bear. If you're locked in a power struggle with your potty training child, back off. Don't say a word about potty training except to tell her that she's in charge of it now. Sometimes, that's all it takes to get your child to make the final step toward potty training success.
Hopefully, one or more of these steps will help you on the potty training journey… Good luck!