The Big Finish to Potty Training
by Kelly D. Burgess
Potty training is pretty exciting in the beginning. But what to do when the thrill is gone; when it’s not so exciting to interrupt a fun activity to go to the potty; when wearing diapers seems to be as easy as anything else? There are plenty of activities to maintain your child’s interest in training and other techniques to keep them aiming for the “Big Finish.”
There are kids who sail through potty training without ever looking back. Others lose interest after a week (or two or three) and then step back into the ease of the diaper and forget all the excitement of those early potty training days. These kids may need a bit more fun surrounding the process to keep them interested in potty training until they’re proficient.
Starting From Scratch?
If your child seems to have lost interest in the whole idea of potty training, starting over and using a different approach may help spark that interest again. Reinforce the whole idea of potty training with some of the many children’s books, videos and even toys that are available to get them used to the idea of going on the potty.
Then, plan for a potty-related activity that will be ongoing until the child is reliably using the potty. Mom and potty training expert Vicki Lansky suggests a chart or calendar that rewards the child with stickers for successful trips to the potty.
For slightly older children, Dr. Michael F. Wasserman, a pediatrician with Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, La., suggests making potty training fun by offering a little prize at the conclusion of each potty training session. He suggests a jar of coins, small gifts or snacks kept near the potty.
“Older children recognize that money is important and it can be very motivating,” Dr. Wasserman says. “But I would caution any parent not to make it too large of a monetary reward or you can go broke.”
Some kids may be coming along fine with their potty training but need a little fun and fine-tuning for their potty training techniques. Boys, in particular, have an extra step when it comes to potty training as they learn to stand and pee. Jan Kreider, of San Diego, Calif., made this fun for her son, Aaron, by putting cereal pieces in the toilet bowl and having him aim for them. “This is an inevitably messy process so I also had him help clean up after he was done when he missed,” Kreider says. “I think that motivated him even more to aim well so he didn’t have to get out his little bucket and sponge.”
For kids of all ages, be sure that hand-washing techniques are emphasized throughout the process of toilet training. This is particularly important for little ones because they may not have the coordination to keep their hands from touching their bottoms when wiping. Consider a “fun” soap and their own little set of towels.
Ready, or Not?
The signs of potty training readiness can be rather subtle. That’s why the parent of the backsliding potty trainer needs to first reexamine the situation and be sure that the child isn’t being pushed or encouraged to potty train before he or she is ready.
“People often make decisions about potty training based upon a child’s age, but, regardless of what grandma says or friends’ kids may have done, there is no magic age when potty training should begin,” says Dr. Wasserman. “A child who is not ready to train may get caught up in the excitement at first, but will not be able to succeed over the long term.”
Some kids may not be able to articulate their preferences quite so clearly, but a good grounding in potty training readiness, which is available in the Pull-Ups® Big Kid Beginnings section can be invaluable.
In addition to age myths, parents need to avoid being caught up in the idea that potty training should be instantaneous. Some children may potty train in a day, but that’s certainly not the norm, Dr. Wasserman says.
“Potty training is a process that will take weeks and you have to think of staying with it over the long term,” Dr. Wasserman says. “Thinking this will be accomplished in a matter of days can lead to too much unrealistic pressure on everyone.”
Looking at potty training from that point of view can help a parent shape their games, rewards and activities to keep them realistic so kids can finish up strong.
Boys Will Be Boys
Here are a few other ideas for helping boys learn to aim:
- In the tub, have him pee into a cup.
- Allow him to go outside when there’s no one around. Have him aim for a leaf or rock.
- Let him “write” in the snow.
- Have dad show him how it’s done.