With the temperatures rising and the school year approaching, we would like to take advantage of the summer holidays to help our child go without diapers. How do we go about it? How do I know if my child is ready for the potty? Find out your parents’ questions and the experts’ answers.
Table of contents
- Parent question: “How do you know if a child is ready to go without diapers?”
- “My child sits on the potty for hours without doing anything.”
- “His grandma promised him a little present if he gets clean. Is this a good idea?”
- “If he starts going potty during the holidays, will he be ready by the end of the holidays, because after that, it’s back to school in no time?”
- “I feel like my child is not making any effort to be potty trained, and I’m getting impatient.”
- “My child doesn’t want us to empty the potty.”
- “It’s been more than two weeks since I took off his diapers, and it still doesn’t take.”
- “I forgot to put a diaper on him at night, and he didn’t wet the bed.”
Gone are the days when babies were potty-trained from the age of one. Today, potty training is done more slowly, between 2 and 3 years old. Each child approaches it at his own pace, with his motivation. But the months leading up to school entry are often filled with a particular tension: will our little one be out of nappies in time for his first day of school?
Parent question: “How do you know if a child is ready to go without diapers?”
The pediatrician’s opinion. If the child knows how to go up and down a staircase on his own, then he knows how to hold himself back by the time he goes to the bathroom. Indeed, the control of the stairs is the indication of a neuromuscular maturity of the lower body, particularly of the sphincters. This is acquired around two years old. But it is also necessary that the child feels what is happening inside him, knows where he must do it, and especially wants to please you. The atmosphere at home must therefore be calm, without pressure or tension.
The psychologist’s opinion. To become a continent, the child must have a sufficient level of language. We must already speak with him: “You squirm, you want to?”, “You made in your layer?” which makes it possible to check that it is conscious of the movements which occur in him. And above all, he mustn’t be in the middle of an opposition phase because otherwise, it will be difficult!
“My child sits on the potty for hours without doing anything.”
The opinion of the pediatrician. If the child has a regular bowel movement, he can be made to sit on the potty when he usually does his business. But it is out of the question to leave him there for more than five minutes, whether there is something in the potty or not. The child must know what the potty is for and not confuse it with a chair! Also, avoid “gadget” pots; a potty is not a toy! Moreover, it should be placed in the toilet or the bathroom, not in the middle of the living room: being potty trained means being able to anticipate, to ask in time to go and do his needs in the place dedicated to that.
“His grandma promised him a little present if he gets clean. Is this a good idea?”
The advice of the shrink. A priori, relieving oneself in the potty is natural and does not have to be rewarded with a gift. With some children, it’s pretty simple: they are motivated because they want to grow up. Others don’t see the benefit of being potty trained. On the other hand, they know what they risk losing, for example, their parents’ attention or the petting with mom at diaper change time. For them, it can be interesting to have an external relay in the form of a small reward: “If today you pee well in the potty and not in your panties, we’ll go on the merry-go-round” just so that the child can see what he has to gain in concrete terms. It must remain a very punctual help, the time it felt the pleasure to be clean, to not have this layer between the legs. And also, of course, the pride of having succeeded. The best reward for a child is the pleasure of his parents.
“If he starts going potty during the holidays, will he be ready by the end of the holidays, because after that, it’s back to school in no time?”
The shrink’s opinion. It is a physiological fact; the mammal is naturally continent. But in young humans, psychological and relational factors complicate the process of acquiring cleanliness. For example, a child who does not yet know how to restrain himself receives all his parents’ attention; he has a power that he wants to keep. If you want your child to be potty trained for school, he feels the stakes and plays on them. This could be counterproductive, especially if he’s a little afraid of going to school. So calm down, relax the pressure; things will happen anyway.
The pediatrician’s opinion. It is not uncommon for a child who has become potty-trained to “regress” as school starts: he is worried and stressed. It is necessary to speak to him about it, to reassure him. And don’t worry: schoolmistresses know how to deal with accidents during the first month, they are used to it, it’s pretty common.
“I feel like my child is not making any effort to be potty trained, and I’m getting impatient.”
The shrink’s opinion. The first “accidents” are part of learning. It’s normal. Despite everything, it is a failure for him, so soon enough it will be necessary to try to avoid them by helping the child anticipate, for example, intervening if he squirms. Then, if the accidents follow one another, we must ask ourselves if it is not his way of signifying something else, a particular concern. Try to be attentive to these signs, you who know your child well.
The opinion of the pediatrician. Be careful with the words we use! We often hear adults tell a child that “he will be a big boy” if he becomes potty trained. This is not true, and the child knows it: he doesn’t feel “grown-up” and doesn’t want to leave his “little” life all of a sudden. Potty training is only a step towards autonomy. It is acquired on average at 24 months for girls, 27 months for boys.
“My child doesn’t want us to empty the potty.”
The pediatrician’s opinion. It is essential that he knows what poop and pee are: tell him how it works, explain that when we have eaten, the body takes everything good for it and rejects what it does not need, in the form of poop. Similarly, you can tell him that water washes our body when we drink, and dirty water comes out as pee.
The shrink’s opinion. To illustrate this, it’s time to play with trucks, filling the dumpster at one end of the hallway and unloading it at the other end. While he plays with filling and emptying, we draw a parallel with what happens in the body. It is important that he can manipulate these concepts. Indeed, at two years old, the child does not yet have a clear image of his body schema. It is still under construction. However, he has been wearing diapers all his life, so the border between “inside” and “outside” is even more blurred in this area. He tends to consider his stool as part of him. If he is afraid of the potty being emptied, it is because he is anxious about the idea of seeing a piece of himself disappear. Explanations will help him.
“It’s been more than two weeks since I took off his diapers, and it still doesn’t take.”
The pediatrician’s opinion. If the child is ready, potty training is acquired in less than two weeks. If you try too early when he’s not ready, he’ll get frustrated, get stuck, and it can become a nightmare! It is better to avoid this kind of training and try again when he is ready.
The opinion of the shrink. You shouldn’t hesitate to go back and put the diapers back on if it doesn’t work after ten days or so, as long as you talk about it and have the child’s agreement. We say to him: “I see that it is difficult for you; I made a mistake, it was a little too early. I made a mistake; it was a bit too early. Do you agree to put the diapers back on? And we make it clear that if he wants to take them off again, he has to ask us. Anyway, we’ll try again later.
“I forgot to put a diaper on him at night, and he didn’t wet the bed.”
The shrink’s opinion. Nighttime cleanliness comes on its own, usually a few months after daytime cleanliness. The best thing to do is to wait until the diaper is dry in the morning several nights in a row before offering to remove it.
The pediatrician’s opinion. Once they are potty trained during the day, some children do not want to wear diapers at night. The important thing is that the child does not feel too much pressure but is valued by “I am proud of you.” But not “You’re a big boy”! He has plenty of time to grow up.
The jump from wearing diapers to using the toilet is a huge childhood milestone. The developmental readiness of a child is essential in determining the age at which they can stop using diapers, but so is how their caregivers approach potty training.
If it takes your child a long time to get toilet trained, don’t worry; they’ll get the hang of it soon and quit wearing diapers.