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7/18/13blog post

this is not my potty dance!

By: Dr. Stacy Meyer

“This is not my potty dance”

This is a phrase I hear often from Sprout, my 3 1/2 year old little boy…and let me tell you, it is ALWAYS his potty dance! We have officially reached the “testing stage” of his potty training in which he attempts to wait as long as physically possible to use the bathroom so as not to miss anything. This, of course, has led to a recent increase in “accidents”. As a pediatrician, I realize this is just a phase that he will eventually outgrow and I try to remain patient and remind myself of how far we’ve come…

At the beginning…

Sprout started showing signs he was ready to potty train a few months before his third birthday, but having just had Busy Bee, I frankly couldn’t find the energy to commit. But as the summer was ending and the first day of preschool was looming in the near future, we finally decided to give it a try. We opted to start with a “potty weekend” to kick things off. For us, this entailed a naked 3 year old, a lot of potty books and movies, a few messes to clean up, and a hysterically laughing 8 year old neighbor boy who came by selling his school fundraiser at the wrong time! By the end of the weekend, we were the proud parents of a “mostly” toilet trained 3 year old covered in stickers and fake tattoos (his potty prizes!).

Of course this method isn’t the only way to get started and isn’t right for every family or child.

Here are some tricks for making potty training a success whichever method you choose.

  • Be generous with the praise
  • Consider small “prizes” for success that can range from a sticker to playing a favorite activity. The key is to make the reward immediate so that it remains associated with the desired action
  • Be Patient! Expect some accidents and offer simple instructions/encouragements to continue potty training (For example, my son repeated to anybody who would listen that “we don’t peepee on the floor, we peepee in the potty” for weeks during active potty training)

Thinking about getting started with potty training, but not sure if the timing is right? It’s important not to focus so much on the age of your child but for the signs that your child is physically and intellectually ready.

Five signs your child may be ready are He/She:

  1. Shows interest in the potty or wearing underwear
  2. Understands basic directions and commands (i.e. come sit on the potty)
  3. Stays dry for 2 or more hours during the daytime
  4. Shows awareness of their bodily functions. (For instance, hiding when they are stooling or announcing that they have to pee or poo prior to doing so)
  5. Wants changed or complains about wet or soiled diapers

Avoid pressuring a child who is not ready. If your child resists using the potty or doesn’t seem to understand, take a few weeks off and try again. Continuing to pressure could just prolong the process leading to frustration or to harmful holding behaviors.

For those of you with potty trained kiddos at home what methods have worked for you?

Dr. Meyer is a pediatric endocrinologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She is the mother of two boys who she lovingly refers to as “Busy Bee” and “Sprout!” As part of the “Dr. Mom Squad,” Dr. Meyer blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Meyer!

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