With the start of kindergarten coming up and the holiday season making us more available, it’s the perfect time to help our child go diaper-free. Without forcing. Tips and tricks.
Table of contents
- Being potty trained before starting school
- 1. Look for signs that he is ready
- 2. Wait for the right moment
- 3. Motivate him to go through with it
- 4. Take it step by step
- 5. Offer her a potty instead of a reducer
- 6. Don’t impose fixed times
- 7. Take the inevitable small accidents in stride
- 8. When he’s potty training, encourage him, but don’t overdo it
- 9. Don’t put pressure on
- 10. If he’s reluctant, take a break
Being potty trained before starting school
Being potty trained is a prerequisite for starting kindergarten. Don’t worry: there will inevitably be a few little “accidents,” which are usually well tolerated by the educational teams, who are used to them in the first few weeks.
Above all, we do not force them. Potty training is a significant point in a child’s development, but each child will do it at his own pace. And don’t despair if, a few weeks before the start of the school year, your child is still not toilet trained. This acquisition can be rapid, especially in the summer, when parents are more available. In addition, summer temperatures make wearing diapers more uncomfortable: your child will undoubtedly feel more comfortable without his diaper.
The important thing to remember is always to respect your child’s rhythm. Here are some practical tips.
1. Look for signs that he is ready
The majority of children have natural bladder and sphincter control between 24 and 48 months. Eight out of ten children become potty trained spontaneously, with girls usually sooner than boys. Before you start, make sure your child is physiologically ready, has good motor coordination, and can control her sphincters. To become potty trained, your child should have been able to walk for a few months. A voluntary and autonomous walk that has nothing to do with the first hesitant steps. He also knows how to sit up, stand up straight, remain stable, and get up by himself when he sits down. He goes up and downstairs by himself. He says “wee” or “poo” by pointing to the potty or the toilet. He can go for two hours without wetting his diaper. If he does, point it out to him: “I see your diaper is dry. Do you want me to buy you some panties or underwear? He can hold it in for a while when he feels the urge coming on. He scribbles on a piece of paper, which is a sign of good fine motor skills. He hates it when his diaper is dirty and asks you to change him when it is. He can clearly tell if he is hungry or thirsty, showing that he knows how to interpret and verbalize his body’s messages. He “visits” your toilet with an exciting look. He imitates the older children and shows an increasing desire for independence.
2. Wait for the right moment
Accepting to become potty trained means accepting to obey your parents and adopt the rules of life in society. A child in the middle of the opposition period (18-24 months) is not ready, so it is better to wait until he has passed the phase of systematic opposition. If he says no to everything because he is in this period where he asserts himself by “no,” he will refuse to give up the diapers by principle. The conflict will crystallize around potty training, whereas if you try again 15 days-1 month later, it will happen by itself. If you force him before he is physically and psychologically mature enough, he may lock himself in a stubborn refusal, and you will then take much longer to get a result.
3. Motivate him to go through with it
To prepare him psychologically, read him stories on the subject in small doses. Don’t make him fixated on it. Encourage him to tell you when he has to urinate or defecate, but let him verbalize it himself, his body, and what happens inside it are his own. Don’t bother him with “Do you have to pee? Do you want to poop in your potty?”. To make him want to be potty trained as soon as possible, make him understand that it is in his interest that wet and dirty diapers are not pleasant, that he is now a grown-up, with all the advantages in terms of freedom that this represents. To help him progress, talk to the people who look after him – nannies, grannies – to synchronize efforts and different ways of doing things.
4. Take it step by step
Going potty is a step-by-step process. The first step is naptime without a diaper. Offer her the potty before her nap and put her diaper on after. If she stays dry two or three times in a row, you can try a diaperless rest. Then gradually increase the amount of time she goes without a diaper throughout the day. To make the transition, buy him elastic-waist diapers that work like pants and that he can take off and put back on by himself. If there aren’t too many accidents, you can switch to panties or briefs if he uses his potty properly for at least a week. Children who are clean during the day continue to sleep in diapers at night for another three to six months. You can start removing the diaper at night if it is dry every morning for a week. Put a mattress cover on to protect the mattress from the small incidents that are always possible. Up to the age of 5, it is normal for this to happen!
5. Offer her a potty instead of a reducer
The potty is easier to use to start potty training because the child feels more secure and stable and can therefore adopt the best biomechanical posture. From 20 months onwards, you can provide a potty to familiarise your child. At first, he can sit on it while keeping his diaper to “play” in his potty. Then he can sit in it after the soiled diaper is removed; place the wet diaper in the potty, so he understands what it’s for. Learn to recognize the behavioral cues that mean your child is about to pee or poop, and invite him to go to the potty. Put it away in the bathroom so that your child understands where it is and what to do there. Avoid the duck head or musical potty; it must remain a functional object, not a toy. Prefer “three-in-one” pots, with a bezel and a small container that can be emptied. Don’t let him play on his potty. Otherwise, he won’t understand what the object is for and make toilet paper available to learn to wipe himself. You encourage him to grow up, It is up to him to manage the operations from beginning to end, even if the hygiene is not quite up to scratch. Here again, be patient; it takes time to integrate these new habits.
6. Don’t impose fixed times
Potty training should never be seen as a constraint or a power struggle; it’s up to your child to feel when he or she wants to go. Nevertheless, you can suggest regular appointments when he starts the “active” phase of potty training. For example, after a meal, before or after a nap, before going to bed…, but without imposing. If he gets up immediately without result, do not insist, it is because he is not yet ready.
7. Take the inevitable small accidents in stride
Once you’ve made the decision not to use a diaper, stick to it. But potty training doesn’t happen overnight, and you have to accept the little accidents and leaks that occur without scolding. Shaming your child may block him and trigger episodes of acute constipation. Moreover, your child will think that you only love him when he manages to pee or poop in the potty. And don’t put a diaper back on certain occasions that you consider “risky.” For example, during a long car trip or for convenience when he sleeps at other people’s houses. He won’t understand why you’re forcing it on him when he knows he doesn’t need it anymore. He might then go back.
8. When he’s potty training, encourage him, but don’t overdo it
At each new small progress, congratulate him, but not too much either! It’s not an achievement, and if the whole family is shouting about it, he might think he’s being potty trained to please his parents, not because he’s growing up. Simply say, “I’m happy for you and proud to see you’re getting big.” To counterbalance the disappearing special and tender moments of diapering, it’s good to add on the hugs and kind words, but no need to give him gifts. Indeed, he pleases you, but be careful with the emotional blackmail. If he has become clean, it is because he has skills, not to please others.
9. Don’t put pressure on
Potty training is most natural from 24-30 months. There’s no reason for it to become an obsession. Avoid comparisons with an older brother or cousin who was potty trained earlier. Don’t force it, don’t say, “I’ve decided to take your diapers off because you’re a big boy, and you’ll be going to school soon!” Your child needs to hear, “I think you are ready to pee and poop in your potty.” I trust you; you can do it. If it’s okay with you, I’ll take your diaper off.”
10. If he’s reluctant, take a break
If your child is having trouble letting go of diapers, it’s probably because he’s not quite ready to grow up, not ready to let go of something from early childhood. Listen to him. Small leaks are normal, but if accidents happen soon after you start wearing a diaper, put him back in one without shame or punishment. Take a break for one to three months, and don’t bring it up again. Potty training is based on trust and cooperation. Some become potty trained overnight, day and night, others keep their diaper on at night until they are 4 or 5 years old. To each his rhythm!
Potty training is an important milestone in a child’s growth, but it will happen at their own rate. Don’t be discouraged if your child is still not clean a few weeks before the start of the school year. This process can be pretty quick, especially during the summer.