In parenting, I often thinks it’s helpful to combine expert opinions with our own philosophies to figure out effective approaches to help our children gain independence, especially when it comes to things like potty training. I know that many parents want practical guidance, and I’m happy to share a few expert potty training tips gleaned from a teleconference that I took part in last week.
I had the chance to consult Dr. Alberto Andres Cotton, a well-renowned Miami based pediatrician and Jeannette Kaplun, a parenting expert, author, speaker and award-winning journalist, about common setbacks, approaches and potty training guidance.
Potty training in today’s society can be unusually demanding and challenging, especially when dealing with things like pre-school deadlines. I often hear parents searching for some sort of sign or marker within their child to indicate that they are ready to be potty trained. Some parents believe that there is a correct chronological age to begin training while others examine the child’s developmental stage. Dr Cotton spoke of the importance of acknowledging the child’s current stage for potty training readiness. If the child is not bothered by a wet diaper than it may not be the best time to begin the process. I think that one of the most important messages gleaned is that each child is different – the key is not found in starting at a set age but beginning when the child shows readiness.
I also know that many parents often face regressions. When my daughter was 27 months old her brother was born, and her potty success hit a significant plateau. As Jeannette Kaplun explained, regressions often go hand in hand with stress or change in the child’s environment. Although I knew it was normal when my daughter regressed after her brother was born, it’s always comforting to get expert reinforcement. Dr. Cotton reminds us that potty training can be stressful for the child and regressions are normal and often happen.
Perhaps the most powerful word repeatably spoken by both experts was patience. Children often absorb what their parents reflect, and it’s crucial to help maintain a positive association with going to the bathroom. This involves praise and celebration for every flush (i.e clapping hands or a sticker on a chart) and never reprimanding accidents when they happen. An attitude of patience also needs to be reinforced with extended family members and care-takers. Engaging and educating family to work cohesively (about rewards, Pull-Ups and potty training approaches) will help to make the process successful.