Thursday, June 4, 2009

Potty Training: Pre-Potty Training

Regardless of when you choose to potty train your child, you will have to do some pre-potty training, for both yourself and your child. I am by no means an expert on potty training, but I've learned some things along the way. The info from here on out is all garnered by much talking with friends and family and much reading of the "experts" (which are often highly over-rated).

Pre-Potty Training (for your child)

If you're going with an early start date, you'll need to make this a top priority in the few months preceding the Big Day. If you're planning to wait and train later, then this will happen along the way by osmosis, most likely.
  1. Give your child the vocabulary to use: be consistent ("pee pee" should always be "pee pee"--or whatever you choose). Catch your child in the act whenever possible and point it out (bathtub, changing table, naked time, etc.). Label body parts, the potty, etc.
  2. Model for your child at all times: parents and older siblings are always going to the bathroom. Leave the door open and narrate ("Mommy's going pee pee in the potty!" or "Look at Big Sister--she just went pee pee in the potty!").
  3. Let anticipation work for you: "In a few more days, YOU will get to go pee pee in the potty!" or something like that.
Pre-Potty Training (for YOU!)
Yes, you will need some pre-potty training, too! If you've never potty trained a child before, maybe the following will help you avoid some of the mistakes I (and my friends) have made.
  1. Get in the habit of pointing out all the times you (and your child) should use the potty. Before you leave the house for any reason, point out that you are going to the bathroom. (this will help you remember to do that when it's a necessity for your child).
  2. Do your homework--read up on methods, equipment, etc. Know what some of the strategies are.
  3. Learn what motivates your child: is he independent and likes to do everything himself? That might be all the reward you need. Does she idolize her big sister? Let big sister be a key component of your strategy.
  4. Gear up: gather whatever you think you'll need: salty snacks and juice/water if you're planning an all-out day or two; potty chair and/or potty seat/ring for big potty; lots of towels (I use blue towels) if you're just going straight to underwear (or commando); pull-ups if you're planning to go that route.
  5. Get your game face on: Yes, you'll be cleaning up accidents. Yes, your child will not understand right away. Yes, you'll be washing sheets, couches, rugs, toys, etc. Yes, you may have to wash a car seat. Yes, you'll be singing silly songs and doing dumb dances. Yes, you may allow your child to consume far more candy than you ever thought you would allow. Yes, you will have to put your child first, before phone calls, dinner prep, a play date, and the like. Grin and bear it!

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