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Potty Training

Toilet training is a learning process, not a disciplinary process, and a complicated one at that! Your child has to understand what you want, and then has to learn how to do it. In addition to understanding the bodily sensations, getting to the bathroom and getting clothes off, a child must first constrict sphincter muscles to achieve control, and then relax them to eliminate.
Obviously there is a lot to learn. Gaining bowel and bladder control is a skill and fortunately children usually like to learn new skills.

The mastery of skills usually follows a pattern. First comes bowel regularity often followed by bowel control. Daytime bladder control often comes next but for many children this can happen simultaneously, and finally later (often much later), comes nighttime bladder control.

Not every child will follow this pattern, of course. While girls often achieve control before boys, brothers have been known to be dry before same-age sisters. Also, it is not uncommon, especially for boys over the age of 3, to have bladder control but not have bowel control. And, of course, there are children who achieve daytime and nighttime control simultaneously.
With the swing toward a more relaxed approach to toilet training from the previous generation, children tend to be trained later and more frequently their bowel and bladder functions come under their control at the same time.
If you do choose a passive, more laissez-faire attitude about toilet training, keep in mind that children still need to know what it is that is expected of them. You are not necessarily "pushing" your child by providing direction and expectations.
Some children really are ready to be trained early, so you are not "pushing" if you are meeting no resistance. Let their resistance be your guide. Children really do love learning grown-up behavior, so don't deny them their opportunity, if it fits their readiness.
The first step? It's up to you and your child. When you decide what's best for your situation, you'll want to start Bowel Control or Daytime bladder control training.

Some Do's and Don'ts of Potty Training
The Do's:
  • Do get information on potty training and pick a training method that you feel comfortable with.
  • Do engage in potty training skill development before you begin actual potty training. For example, teach your child to pull up and down his or her pants, have them practice sitting on a potty or getting up and down from the toilet. This should be done several weeks to several months before potty training begins.
  • Do choose which parent or caregiver will most likely be most patient in dealing with toilet training. This person should be the primary facilitator of the training process.
  • Do understand that although your child can be trained to use a potty quickly (e.g. in less than one day), it is likely that your child will continue to have accidents for several days to several weeks.
  • Do remember that toilet training is a life skill, just like walking, eating, dressing, and other life skills. Your child will need to 'practice' his or her potty training just as other life skills are practiced.
  • Do help your child be as independent as possible in their toileting. Your child should be able to perform toileting tasks with little assistance from you.
  • Do expect success and convey this to your child. Children will usually try to meet expectations!
The Don'ts:
  • Don't initiate potty training when you have time restraints or during times of family transitions, changes, or stress.
  • Don't try to potty train your child when he or she is going through a highly negative, oppositional phase. Try to increase your child's overall compliance before attempting to train.
  • Don't try to potty train your child before he or she is ready just because other children the same age are already trained. Every child and family is different.
  • Don't interpret your child's potty training progress as being reflective of you as a parent. Just as you can not take credit for your child's walking, you can not take credit for his or her potty training. Ultimately, it is your child's body and your child is in control!
  • Don't get upset (e.g. scolding, losing your cool) during toilet training or when your child has accidents. This only worsens the situation and will increase the chances that your child will do it again.


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