Once kids reach a certain age, potty training talk starts to swirl around you. You should do this. You need to do that. Don't ever do that. So, you start potty training and just try to do your best ... Really, teaching your child to use the toilet is, at best, a challenge.
We asked experts Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock, co-authors of Mommy Guilt: Learn To Worry Less Focus On What Matters Most and Raise Happier Kids, to offer advice on some of the biggest potty training challenges.
With boys, going potty is a little more complicated than just learning to let it out. They need coordination, and aim. "The hardest part of potty training was getting my son to stop looking around when he was trying to go in the potty. By checking out his surroundings we were constantly washing down the wall and the floor," admits Michelle Poteet, a professional organizer from Reclaim Order (reclaimorder.com).
What's a mom to do? "There are lots of tricks of the trade out there: sinking cereal (think Cheerios, not Shredded wheat!), flushable targets, possibly a sticker/reward system if it's a repeating problem," says Pflock.
As for the mess? Well, someone needs to clean it up. "The fact is, little boys (and little girls) will pee outside of the rim - very few toilets are made to fit their bodies. Encourage appropriate bathroom hygiene, tell them they can come find a grown up to help them if they need help cleaning up, and as age appropriate, teach them to clean up on their own when they miss," says Pflock.
Your child was potty trained ... but not any more. Suddenly, she's forgotten how to use the toilet and lost all desire to do so. What now?
That's what happened to one of Jeremy C. Reed's sons. "When we moved out of state, we went on a 3,500 mile, four week road trip and we decided for him to use [training pant diapers] during our trip. That was a bad idea and within a month he was no longer potty trained," says Reed.
Pflock says that what Reed experienced happens to a lot of kids. "Regression from toilet learning is very common. It may be related to reasons such as a new sibling in the house, or the start of preschool. It may just happen for no apparent reason! Take some deep breaths if you are feeling frustrated. Reassure your child, and yourself this is a temporary situation and everyone will get back on track soon," says Pflock.
So, what can you do? "Even something as simple as a new door knob might make it more difficult for a child to open the bathroom door and make it to the potty on time. It seems so obvious, but sometimes stress makes us stupid as we try to overthink what might be going on. Have you used an automatic toilet recently? Those can really scare some kids to the point where they no longer want to use a toilet. Try a different approach, if your child used the standing potty chair, maybe they would be more successful using a seat which attaches directly to the toilet," says Renner.
Get more tips on dealing with regression from potty training here!
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