Child-Centered Trend Could Be Your Best Bet for Potty Training Success
After throwing away the fifteenth dirty diaper of the day, you are suddenly motivated to start potty training your toddler. But, even though you are ready to ditch the diapers and have them eliminating on your schedule, rushing the progression might be detrimental to the training process.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests waiting until the child shows an interest in the toilet or toddler-sized potty-chair before heading down the potty training road.
Here are few other signs that your child might be ready for that next step:
- Can dress and undress themselves
- Can follow simple instructions
- Wants to wear “big kid” underwear
Pediatrician, Dr. Linsey Hawkins-Alprin, MD, FAAP, of Leon Springs Pediatrics, said readiness is really not about the age of the child, but where they are developmentally.
“They have to be able to tell you that they have to go potty, be able to get themselves to the restroom, and be able to pull their underwear or training pants down,” Hawkins-Alprin said.
One of the readiness signals that is commonly seen as potty training dysfunction is when the child seeks privacy to do their business.
“The kid who goes behind the couch and squats and poops is actually normal and is showing that he is ready to start the potty training process,” she said.
Hawkins-Alprin says if your child is showing these signs, even at a young age, go ahead and purchase a training potty to get them used to the idea.
“They can sit on it fully clothed and read a book if they want to,” she said. “Then you can have them sit on it in a diaper or without any clothing, with no expectation to go poop or pee.”
While the readiness signs can tell you that your child is ready to start potty training, it’s important not to push this milestone if there are outside stressors like a move to a new home or a new baby.
“A lot of people, right around the 2 or 3-year mark get pregnant again and they’d like their first child to be potty trained before the next one comes along,” she said. “When I find out one of my moms is pregnant, I say start [training]now. Don’t rush it, but start it now. The child already knows something is going on and if you try to potty train further into the pregnancy, you’re adding stress to the process.”
Potty training has come a long way from the 1800s when potty training began as early as a year old and was done for the parent’s convenience. Today, toilet training is more about waiting for the child to tell you when he or she is ready. The child-centered potty training mindset has given birth to new potty training trends where parents spend an entire weekend or holiday focusing on potty training.
Hawkins-Alprin says this can be a successful method if the whole family is on board to make it happen.
“I’ve heard of parents camping out in the kitchen or the bathroom and placing the child on the potty every 15 minutes,” she said. “They will probably poop or pee during that time and then it reinforces the connection between sitting on the potty and actually going to the restroom.”
According to Hawkins-Alprin, if you want to attempt this method, make sure it is a string of several days where you don’t have to do anything or be anywhere.
“This is not a time to have company over or go on vacation. You want to eliminate any distractions.”
Once your child is consistently using the potty, you’ll want to watch for any setbacks that could be concerning.
“If a child was fully potty trained and now they are not potty trained, that’s a big red flag for me,” she said. “There’s probably something going on. It could be medical, psychosocial or stressors at home. When they regress like that, I want to know about it.”
“And even if the problem your child is having seems minor, sharing it with your pediatrician is a good idea,” Hawkins-Alprin said.
“I always tell my parents to talk to me if there’s anything they don’t feel comfortable with,” she said. “You might be picking up on something that I’m not. Or I will say, no, that’s totally normal. Let me tell you a story. Then you can say, oh, okay, it’s no big deal.”
Dr. Linsey Hawkins-Alprin recommends books like “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child,” which is put out by the AAP for parents who are looking for more information about potty training.
“And if they’re not sure where to start, they can always ask their pediatrician.”
Jessa McClure is a freelance writer, blogger, wife and mother of two.