We There Yet?
There are many signs that your child may be ready for potty training. They are typically broken into four categories: Physical Readiness, Motor Skills, Verbal & Cognitive Skills and Emotional & Social Awareness. Let's break them down:
Part I: Physical Signs
- Is your child aware that he/she needs to go? This is demonstrated by squatting, grunting, and/or hiding when they feel the need to go.
- Can they go all night without a BM?
- Can they keep a diaper dry for long periods of time (i.e. long naps)?
- Do they urinate a lot at one time (vs. a little all through out the day)?
- Is there some regularity to the timing of their bowel movements?
Part II: Motor Skills
- Is your child able to undress him/herself?
- Is your child able to pull his/her underpants down?
- Is your child able to pull his/her pants down?
Part III: Verbal &
- Has the vocabulary required for potty training (i.e. understands words such as pee, poo, penis, vagina, potty, toilet, wet, dry, underwear, "big girl" etc. or whatever words work best for your family)
- Your child can follow instructions - from simple instruction such as show me your nose, to more complex instructions such as putting away toys where they belong. Your child has the ability for planning/problem solving and memory.
- Is able to imitate and model behavior
Part IV: Emotional
& Social Awareness
- Desire to master one's own body and environment - manifested by "I can do it" or "I am a big boy/girl now"
- Child's desire for parental approval
- Child's desire to imitate and desire to be like others
Keep the potty chair out where your child will see it.
- Encourage practice by increasing your child's fluid intake. Feed them salty snacks to make them thirstier.
- Watch out for your child's bowel movement (BM) and try to leave his/her diaper off at this moment. Be more alert for this time so that you can quickly put him/her on the potty.
- Offer praises, stickers, treats or potty dances for every successful potty use.
- Do not force your child to sit on the potty. If he/she refuses, try again another time. Be patient.
- Expect mistakes and accidents.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teaching boys to urinate sitting down. This way, you don’t have to teach them two different things at once (sitting for bowel movements and standing to urinate).
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