Gentle Potty Training Method For Toddlers
I have in my interactions with parents very often noticed that moms and parents are rather quizzed about when it is a good time to start potty training their toddlers. In my previous blog I talked about my experience and how as a parent one can tell whether your toddler is showing Readiness Signs To Be Potty Trained.
In continuation of the same context I am going to share my Potty Training Ideas in this blog today.
I have a very strong willed son. He’s been so since he was young. So for me the best way to go was to follow his lead and steer him in the direction we wanted to go. Like everything else in parenting, there is no surely saying that it would work for your family but it worked wonders for mine and I am sure it’s worth a shot. There are a lot of things I like about the gentle potty training method. I tweaked things and altered the method as we went along.
This is what I call ‘The Gentle Potty Training Method.’
Gentle Potty Training Method Pros:
- An easy method for mom’s who are working and can’t dedicate exclusive time
- No pressure on child to perform as it is based on their timing
- There is no stress as cues are taken from the child
- Minimal mess
Gentle Potty Training Method Cons:
- It is not time bound and can hence make the child believe that using the potty is optional
How We Modified Gentle Potty Training Method:
- Set a goal
- Practiced on a schedule
- Used bribery and rewards!
Resources Needed For The Gentle Potty Training Method:
- Disposable nappy pads
(I love how they feel close to diapers, don’t have annoying elastics as in the training underwear and don’t mess the house with every little trickle!)
- Cotton underwear
- Stool to reach the potty
- Weekly Reward chart
- Stickers and treats
My Take On The Gentle Potty Training Method
Ruhaan was almost 3 by now and I had probably spoken to him about the ‘potty’ business more than about any other things. He knew what was going to happen. Back then I still had a part time job as a secondary school teacher and normally got home well past noon. This was when R would be back from play school and hence, it was the correct time to get the diaper off, disposable nappy pads and underwear on and get onto the job.
- Potty talking helps
I would take him to the toilet before his nap time and change him into his underwear with a disposable nappy pad (I couldn’t bear the thought of soiled bed sheets and mattresses). I would keep his nappy pad on and we would continue with our activities. Since he was familiar with the idea of using the potty, I started with asking him if he wanted to go pee. Usually the question went unanswered. Since I was working on the method of gentle potty training which is predominantly child centered, I didn’t want to force anything upon him. The one thing I did consistently was talk to him about it.
- I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere
Since we were working on the gentle potty learning method, I took some time to get him used to sitting on the pot. I would encourage him to sit fully dressed on his potty. This helped build muscle memory and he began to start feeling comfortable sitting there. I also made his potty seat (we always used the regular pot with the potty seat attached) very festive and fun. Even if he was not peeing or pooping in the potty, gradually he enjoyed his stash of books next to the pot. Singing silly songs and giving him a ‘high five’ every time he got on and off himself gave him a huge sense of accomplishment.
- Getting him to sit naked
He was by now used to being in an underwear. When he wet his nappy pad he would come running to me and ask to be changed. I never failed to educate him about the fact that pee/ poop goes in the toilet and that perhaps we should try getting onto the potty seat to do just that. I started asking him regularly if he wanted to sit on the potty seat. Words of encouragement always helped. I also used bribery here! If he got his pee and poop into the pot he got a little candy.
- Be aware of his schedule
I knew R always pooped after his afternoon meal. And I was more conscious of this now than ever. Since I knew he went pretty quickly after he ate, just around then I would ask him if he felt like pooping. One day he replied in the affirmative and thus we perched on the potty seat. I shifted my thinking from ‘training him’ to making him feel comfortable. I mean I could take him to the pot but I couldn’t make him poop! A little bit of reading, a little bit of story-telling, a little bit of mama jiving and some bribing eventually got R to poop in the pot! We celebrated his first successful potty with a lollipop!
- Troubleshoot if it is not working out
Speaking in context of R he conquered the potty training before he actually got the hang of peeing in the pot. I think he was quite not getting the understanding that as a boy he is required to stand and pee right into the potty bowl! So we drew a little target inside the potty bowl and got him to try to aim at it. After a few days of trying in vain I got in an older cousin to demonstrate. And then they took turns. It turned out to be quite the game! Immediately thereafter R would just run to the toilet, wriggle his pants down and shoot! He also started to take his toy Simba to pee pee!
- We gradually made it a habit
At first R needed help recognizing that he wanted to go to the toilet. Once I took off the disposable nappy pads I had to be very conscious. I started asking him habitually, at regular intervals. If I noticed him getting fidgety, or getting antsy, or starting to squat behind the couch, I would very quickly remind him that he probably needed to visit the toilet. Sometimes we would make it, sometimes we would reach halfway and sometimes…..well we would just not. But every time he told me he wanted to go use the bathroom, even if he didn’t make it in time, it was an opportunity for me to admire his progress in the right direction.
- Rewards work!
And they do. I don’t usually bribe my kids but this one time I made an exception. I know some would scorn and scoff because these are things kids just have to learn to do intrinsically but I for one really do think some things need external motivations. So we worked out a reward chart that didn’t spoil him rotten yet kept him motivated. I mean if he was old enough to understand bribery he was also old enough to use the pot! 1 full dry day, then 3 full dry days, 7 dry days and finally he got a big boy medal! Download Potty Training Reward Chart
- Providing plenty of leeway
Surely there came a day when I made him wear his regular under wear. I mean no nappy pads. No night time diapers. And I braced myself for accidents. But I think the fact that R and I took quite a bit of time drove home the point of “we poop and pee in the toilet.” Our incidents were very few! He acquired the physical understanding of what his body needed to do and almost mastered muscle control to eliminate soiling or messing. So on those rare occasions when he did have an accident I had no desire to shame him in any way. I would clean up the mess calmly.
- If I messed up, I would apologize and reassure
I must confess that some of my least gentle parenting moments during potty learning involved my exasperation with R. When he would refuse to sit on the potty (and just wouldn’t give in to games or books), and then within 5 minutes he would have an accident it would most certainly annoy me. Since gradually I had taken him off the diaper pads as well it meant scrubbing and cleaning the floor. I know he didn’t mean to poop in the underwear but somehow he just couldn’t manage it to the bathroom. On incident I recollect is when he had just finished peeing on the porch and immediately after I changed him into clean fresh clothes he pooped! I guess the expression on my face was enough for him. R was so sad about having had an accident that he burst into tears. And then, I was crushed. I merely took him in my arms and told him that it was OK. I apologized for looking cross and told him that the next time we would take it to the bathroom. He looked at me and asked me “Does this happen to you mama?” I smiled and answered “Even to me.”
P.S. For mommies looking for more intensive potty training methods, Here’s How You Can Potty Train Your Child In Two Days!