Dos and don’ts

The Don’ts

1. Don’t act under pressure

Certain situations can cause parents to try and speed up the process. Perhaps the kid is about to start kindergarten. Parents need to identify the pressure they’re under and avoid transferring it to the child. It can’t contribute anything to the actual process.

2. Don’t start conflicts with the child

Even when obstacles crop up in the process, it’s vital to avoid conflict with the child.

3. Don’t show anger

Even if the child has seven “accidents” consecutively, on the new couch, and every carpet in the house, anger is harmful and just overshadows the process.

4. Don’t humiliate the child, directly or indirectly

Some comments are unhelpful. For example, “Only little kids pee in their underpants.” Or, “Younger kids than you are out of diapers already.”

5. Don’t fall into the “broken record” trap

The same phrases, repeated over and over (“The toilet is the only place to pee and poo;” “When you need to go next time, just tell me,”) don’t teach the kid something new. He knows it all already. All they do is reflect the same expectations, coupled with disappointment. It’s exhausting for the parents, offends the child, and contributes nothing to the toilet training process.

6. Don’t use rewards too much

Rewards and reinforcements can have a positive effect if the process is going well, and the child is cooperative. But when obstacles occur, if the kid no longer reacts to rewards and reinforcements, you need to stop and think what the obstacle is. Repeated attempts to offer bigger, more tempting gifts simply put pressure on the child and don’t advance the process.

7. Don’t bang your head against the wall

When we see that the child isn’t responding to what we do or say, we must avoid repeating them with greater impetus. We need to stop saying and doing them. Stop, and try to identify the obstacle.

8. Don’t make demands of the child

Parents need to remember that it’s the child’s process. He doesn’t owe anything to his parents even if he’s already shown he can control. Parents must guide, encourage, and support, but on no account should they make demands of the child in anything related to hygiene habits.

The Dos

1. Do prepare a clear program upfront

When parents take the initiative and start toilet training, they should work according to a well-thought-out program.

2. Do make advance preparations

Once the process is moving ahead, before taking steps like removing the diaper, it’s worth showing the child books and videos that can reinforce her know-how and awareness about toilet training, and the transition to using the toilet.

3. Do use a variety of methods and measures

Remember, there’s a great range of methods that work for some, but not for others. Find the ones best for you and your kid.

4. Do be prepared for regression

Toilet training doesn’t always progress in a continuous line. There can be ups and downs. Parents need to adapt their approach to their child’s style and speed: sometimes to go faster; sometimes to hit the brakes. And occasionally it’s necessary to stop the process completely and return to full use of diapers.

5. Do choose your words wisely

Your child pays attention to your language and intonation, so be sure to use positive words in an affirmative tone.

6. Do invest efforts in collaborating with others

Make sure that you’re implementing a policy shared by everyone involved in the training. That means grandma, grandpa, daycare teachers, older siblings and so on.

7. Do stock up on equipment

Organize the items needed to keep the house clean and make your life easier. A stock of underpants for changing, protective devices for furniture and bedclothes, for example.

8. Do get professional help

Sometimes it’s good to consider the option of seeking relevant professional help, such as the school psychologist, potty-training experts, child psychologist.

For example:

  •  when the process grinds to a halt and the child shows signs of suffering and frustration;
  • when the process turns into a battle zone;
  • when the child is maturing but shows no signs of going diaper-free.

You can find ideas about toilet training programs in my book, Potty Training Made Easy: Parent’s Guide, Price World Publishing (2011). The book comes with a DVD with the animated musical I produced: The Magic Bowl. It encourages the child to start going diaper-free and to transition to using the toilet. On Amazon.

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