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​​​​Potty Email SeriesIssue1234

Oops, It Happened... ​Again

Potty training is a process. And as we've said, along the way there will inevitably be accidents.

Because your child will want to please you and receive all that wonderful praise you've given for potty successes, any accidents he has may be hidden or at least not immediately announced.

That's why you'll need to check your child for clean pants frequently, every half hour or so. If his pants are clean, give lots of kisses and hugs. If they're wet or soiled, let him know using just a few words. Don't get angry... that ​never helps.

When your child wets or soils his pants, clean the accident and have him practice what to do the next time he feels the need to go pee or poop. Simply have him go to the bathroom, remove his clothes, sit on the toilet and practice as though he was going "for real."

As strange as it may seem, the more often your child goes through these practices, the more quickly you will get results. So try to think of accidents as happy - if messy - "teachable moments."

And don't forget - if you start the training process and realize your child isn't ready, even though you thought he was, stop. It's better to take a break for a month or two and then try again rather than push ahead and unwittingly create a negative association between the toilet or potty chair and your child's willingness to urinate or have a bowel movement in the toilet. You can always put your little one back in Pampers or Pull-Ups. He will ultimately feel motivated to be trained, possibly by something other than your prompting. After all, what child wants to have toileting accidents at school?

Teaching Activity

Handling Accidents

The Positive Practice Procedure

  • When you discover your child has soiled or wet pants, say so in a matter-of-fact tone of voice and tell him he will now have to practice using the toilet.
  • Before the practice, tell him he needs to change into clean pants. Go with him to change and help him if necessary. Do not talk about the wetting accident. Begin the positive practice immediately after he has changed.
  • Start the practice by going either to the scene of the accident (if known) or where he was when you discovered the wet pants. Use this spot as your starting point. Take him by the hand and calmly lead him to the bathroom. Help him lower his pants, sit down on the toilet, pretend to go, get up and pull his pants up. Then head back to the starting point.
  • Repeat this procedure until he has made the trip from the starting point to the toilet ten times. Try not to talk with your child during positive practice. You may, however, keep track of the practices by saying something like, "Now do practice number seven."
  • If your child gets angry or refuses to follow your directions, use your usual discipline to get him to complete the positive practice. If you decide to use Time-Outs as discipline, resume positive practice when the Time-Out is over. If he resists again, merely return him to Time-Out. Then let him know that his choices are to be in Time-Out or finish the positive practice.
  • Don't give in. Try to do ten practices every time you find your child has wet or soiled clothes. Almost every parent who has tried the positive practice procedure has been tempted to cut the number of practices to five or six. But the procedure is most effective if you do the full number every time.
  • Whenever your child does use the toilet (instead of wetting his pants), be sure to give him lots of praise and possibly a small reward.

Social Skills

Maintaining Personal Hygiene

Potty training is fraught with messy accidents, which makes it a good time to talk about overall cleanliness. It's also a milestone in your child's progression from infant to toddler to full-blown childhood and the inevitable march toward independence. If your child can go to the toilet by herself, she also can follow a personal hygiene routine - with a little help from Mom or Dad.

Here are the behavioral steps your child should follow to maintain personal hygiene:

  • Bathe - or shower daily.
  • Brush - your teeth in the morning and at bedtime.
  • Brush - or comb your hair.
  • Put - on clean clothes daily.
  • Wash - your hands before meals and after using the bathroom.
  • Put - dirty clothes in the hamper.

Hygiene doesn't just have a role in your child's (and your family's!) health; it has a role in your child's future relationships with others. Making and keeping friends is hard to do if you're stinky, dirty or messy. Potty training is a logical time to teach and reinforce good hygiene.

As we said in our first email message, toilet training can and should be a positive experience for you and your child. Following the steps and strategies described in our month-long email series hopefully has made achieving success easier and, perhaps most importantly, allowed you and your child to enjoy the transition from Pampers to the potty!

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