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Potty Email Series Issue1234

Let's Get This Potty Started

Now that your child is physically and emotionally ready - and you are, too - it's time to get the ​potty started!

This process will take time - from weeks to months - and there will be accidents along the way. So be patient... and stay positive! Remember, you are teaching a new skill, one your child has yet to acquire. As the "teacher," you must be encouraging. When accidents happen - and they will - keep your disappointment in check. Try to maintain a neutral or even positive demeanor. Don't raise your voice or yell. You don't want to add any more stress to the situation or have your child lose interest or become fearful.

When training starts, there are three things to always remember. They're not hard to forget, as they all start with "P":

  • Pampers and Pull-ups
    To avoid lengthening the training process and undermining the whole effort, your child must go "cold turkey" on Pampers and Pull-Ups (except at bedtime). The reason for the cold-turkey approach is simple: Pampers and Pull-Ups are essentially wearable toilets, and your child won't see much need for using the one in your home when he can much more easily use the one he's wearing.
  • Prompting (Tell, don't ask)
    You will need to prompt your child to go to the bathroom and sit for a few minutes multiple times a day. Tell, don't ask. Asking a young child if she has to go to the bathroom is unproductive. So instead of asking, just say it's time to go and then escort your child and have her sit.
  • Praise
    Every time your child does any toileting behavior correctly - pulls down his pants, sits on the potty, wipes or whatever - praise him. Your smiles, hugs and congratulatory comments will reinforce his success. You can take praise a step further by using small rewards. Wrap little items - stickers, tiny toys, beads, gum, etc. - in tinfoil and put them in a jar or special dispenser near the bathroom. When your child achieves a success at any level, let him grab a prize from the jar. Praise and rewards make the training experience fulfilling and make it more likely the positive toilet behaviors will be repeated.

Teaching Activity

Prime the Pump

You want your child to have lots of opportunities to practice on the potty chair, so increasing fluids is helpful. Provide extra water or more of a favorite beverage. Just know, however, this can mean more "spills." Still, having multiple opportunities to reinforce your child's successes certainly increases the likelihood that you'll reach your goal more quickly.

During the training phase, a good strategy is to put your child on the potty chair every hour or so. If he wets himself in between trips to the bathroom, make the visits more frequent. If he's able to stay dry for two or three hours, the visits can be less frequent. Taking your child to the potty chair ten or twenty minutes after eating also gives him a greater opportunity to have a successful experience.

Social Skills

Managing Stress

This week's social skill is for you, not your child. Potty training can be just as stressful on you as it can be on your little trainee. By managing your stress level, you can keep any anger, disappointment or frustration you feel from bubbling over and negatively affecting your child.

To manage your stress, follow these five steps:

    • Identify - situations and/or circumstances that produce stress (accidents, messes in the bathroom, your child's refusal to stay on the potty chair, etc.).
    • Learn - your body's responses to stressful situations (heavy breathing, feeling flushed, tensing muscles, etc.).
    • Use relaxation cues - (imagine yourself on a tropical beach, take deep breaths or count to ten) to overcome stress responses.
    • Generalize - these relaxation cues to the situations that tend to cause stress.
    • Reward - yourself for using stress-management techniques.

    Your ability to manage stress can prevent you from reacting harshly or punishing your child when accidents happen... and accidents will happen. Your reaction and how you deal with accidents throughout the training process (calmly, not emotionally, by teaching, not punishing) will go a long way toward improving your child's chances for success.

    Coming up in Issue 4

    Oops, It Happened... Again


    Handling Accidents


    Maintaining Personal Hygiene

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