July 9, 2020

How should you handle unwanted potty training advice

child on potty chairWhen you are potty training a child, everyone and their neighbor is going to offer you advice, and most of the time, you are not going to want to hear it. Usually this is because the person does not know you or your child, you have already tried the thing they are suggesting, or you simply do not want them butting in on your job as a parent.

To handle unwanted potty training advice, you first have to ask yourself: Where is the unwanted advice coming from? If it is from a stranger, then your approach for handling it can be far different then if it is from a relative. For example, if you simply ignore the advice offered by the lady in the grocery check out line, you will be fine because the chances of you seeing them again are slim. However, if you ignore the advice from your mother-in-law you then have given her permission to give you advice whenever she wants. In addition to that, you may have to deal with the fall out of not following her advice. So, first determine if the person or place the unwanted advice is coming from is going to be a one-time irritant, or a continuous problem.

If you decide the unwanted advice is from someone you rarely see or talk to, your best solution for handling it is simply say, “Thanks for your input.” And leave it at that. That is not a commitment to try what they suggest, and it is not a snub either. That way you leave them feeling fine, and you ignore what they say.

If it is from someone that you will see often, and will be uncomfortable around due to the unsolicited advice, it is always best to help them understand how you feel, and why. One great suggestion is to explain to them that you are taking a “child centered” approach to potty training. This means that your approach is one where you wait for your child to display signs of readiness and interest before you force them to do anything potty related. One of the biggest areas of unwanted advice is that of when to potty train. This is a great way to rebuff that advice, and help the person understand that your efforts will be wasted until your child is truly interested in the process.

The next area that is most often used for potty training advice is how to do it. Some recommend a reward based system, such as bribery and treats each time they use the toilet. Others may suggest a punishment based system where you discipline your child when they choose to go in their pants, diaper, etc. instead of on the toilet. Some suggest timers, where you force your child to sit on the toilet at different intervals during the day. No matter what they suggest, if it is something you are not comfortable with, one great approach is to simply say, “We choose to parent differently.” Or you can say, “When my child is at your home, and in your care, that would be fine if you used that approach.” This means you are willing to let them try it, but you are not going to.

Lastly, if you are getting unwanted advice in front of your child, one of the easiest, and best things to do is simply ask that it is done outside your child’s hearing. Tell the person that you feel it undermines your authority as a parent, and if they can’t refrain from saying something, to please do it when your child is not around.

Going to the bathroom in public places

public restroomGoing to the bathroom in public restrooms can be intimidating for young children, especially those that are just getting potty trained, or who are in the process of training. The unfamiliar bathrooms, large, automatic toilets, and the other things that go with using a public bathroom can be difficult. For example, sometimes a child has to wait in line, and may not be able to hold it. Thus, public bathroom use is something that should be included as part of your potty training, and the issues that are part of it should be addressed. While potty training, it is best to have your child use the potty before leaving the house, then have them wear a diaper or pull-up when out, but encourage them to still use the toilet if they need to go. This way, if there is a long line, and they can’t make it, or if the toilet frightens them, etc. you are not stuck with a mess.

Accidents when you are out where a public toilet is the only option should be quickly forgiven, and not made into a big deal. This is especially true if the child is just barely able to make it to the bathroom at home on your family toilet.

If your child is in underwear all the time, don’t put him back in diapers if you are going out, but do plan ahead for outings. This means remind them frequently, stay apprised of where the closest bathroom is, pack some tissues or wipes in your bag, in case the bathrooms are short on supplies, bring along extra underwear and a change of clothes in case they do have an accident, etc. Before leaving the house, sit them on the toilet for a few minutes, and hopefully they will need to go. Also, limit the amount of drinks, etc. you give them to increase your chances of making it back home before they need to go.

Any time you go out in public with a newly potty trained child, it is good to scout out where the bathrooms are. For example, if you have several children with you, the normal restroom may not be the best option, but a family bathroom will work better. So, know where it is, and talk to your child BEFORE the situation arises so everyone knows what is expected of them if someone needs to go to the bathroom. If the public place does not offer a family bathroom, opt for the stall for people with disabilities as there is more room.

One of the biggest issues that arise with public bathroom use for toddlers and potty training children is that of what do you do if you are with a child of the opposite gender, especially if it is Dad and daughter? It can be awkward for dad to have his daughter go into a men’s room that has open urinals, etc., but he certainly can’t go into the ladies room. So what can you do? Ask for a family restroom, have someone go in and check the bathroom before you go in, put your hand over your kid’s eyes while you go in, or wait until you get home? No matter what you choose to do, it is good to have a plan in place before you take your child out and confront the situation.

Toilet training

Toilet training is part of growing up, but every kid has to do it on their own time. There is not magic age that kids know how to potty train. There is not a magic way to get kids toilet trained, but there are some good tips for knowing when they are ready, and helping them along in the process.

The average child in the United States is toilet trained between age two and three. However, some take longer, and some train earlier. Pressure does not speed up the process, rather slows it down.  So, the first thing you want to do is wait for some sort of indication that they are ready to be toilet trained.

The following are some of the signs that your child is ready to be toilet trained:

  • They remain dry for at least two hours at time during the day or is dry after naps.
  • Their bowel movements are regular and predictable.
  • They show that they need to use the bathroom through facial expression, posture, or words.
  • They can follow simple verbal instructions.
  • They are capable of walking into the bathroom themselves.
  • They can get their pants up and down by themselves.
  • They do not like being in a dirty diaper, and ask to be changed.
  • They ask about using the toilet or potty chair.
  • They want to wear underwear, panties, or grown up underwear.

If your child is not exhibiting some kind of sign that they are ready to toilet train, then trying to get them to go potty on the toilet may be difficult. This is especially true if they do not understand how their basic body functions work. If you start too young, and they do not yet understand that they have control over when they potty, then it won’t work. In addition to a basic understanding of cause and effect, and how their body works, your child also needs to give you some indication that they are ready to use the potty. If they do, then remind them often to go, and help them to get into the bathroom.

Once your child has shown interest it is time to acquaint them with the toilet. Show them how it works, how to flush, how to wash their hands after, and more. It may help to purchase a story book or a video to help them understand how going potty on the toilet works. This is often a good way to help them feel like they are making the choice to go potty on the toilet, and you are not forcing them to do it.

If you’re getting more resistance than success, resume using diapers and try again in a month. The longer you push your child, the longer they will push back, and usually the longer you have to wait to get them toilet trained. It is good to remember not to compare your child to other kids because potty training is such a personal thing, and doing so will only make you anxious or frustrated.

The top tip from child experts on potty training is that if it turns into a fight, then you should back off and give it time. Then start over with a different approach. It is a good idea to only praise your children when potty training. When you get mad it retards the progress.