by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
For many parents potty training or toilet teaching, as it is now termed, is a challenging and sometimes frustrating parental responsibility. It is not uncommon at this point in your parenting life to find your mind filled with questions.
You are ready for your child to be out of diapers, but you wonder, is she? Is this the right time? Are these the right steps? Am I using the right words? Do I know enough and am I skilled enough to help my child move through this developmental stage easily?
Are you wondering how you are doing in the area of toilet teaching? If so, see how you fare in the toilet teaching of your child with this quick True/False quiz. (The answers and explanations can be found at the end of the quiz.)
1. False -- Children don't always know what the sensation of having to go to the bathroom feels like. So asking them if they have to go potty will most likely get you an answer of, "No," regardless of whether or not they have to go. Instead say, "Let's take an opportunity to go to the potty." Let your child know that this is something they need to do to help their bodies learn what needing to go potty feels like. Give them the opportunity to make several attempts throughout the day.
2. False -- External motivators like toys, treats, or special opportunities don't help children identify the sensation of having to go to the bathroom. You want your child to go to the bathroom because she can feel the sensations and has the desire within to use the toilet. If their motivation to use the toilet is to gain a toy or treat, children will focus on the outside treat rather than the inside feeling. In addition, you are conditioning your child to expect something from you every time they use the toilet.
3. True -- The body of a child seeks routine. All new behaviors are easier to learn using a routine. Take your child to the bathroom on a regular schedule. Do it when they wake-up in the morning and after a nap. Do it after meals and before leaving the house. Follow that schedule consistently and your child will soon become accustomed to the routine.
4. False -- Young children learn a variety of skills in a variety of different orders and speeds. There is no one best time to learn to use the toilet. Be patient with your child and allow him the time he needs. Much better that he learn to use the toilet on his schedule than on yours. Don't rush him because you are tired of changing diapers. You will be more successful if you allow your son to learn this skill in his own time. Your patience, here, will help him relax and learn to understand his own body.
5. True -- Read to your child about the potty and giving up her diaper. The more she knows about the new task you are asking of her, the more she will be able to add to her existing knowledge base. Your local library contains many of children's books about using the potty. Use this material to build interest and a natural curiosity for one on the body's basic functions.