Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Potty Training

Strong willed children are sometimes a challange when it comes to things like potty training. It means regaining some control while at the same time allowing the child to have some autonomy. It is also interesting that the "apple usually does not fall far from the tree." Hmm, I wonder where I could find a family full of strong willed children. :-) Parents who raise their children in an environment where they gain a high degree of trust, become more self assured as they move into the autonomy of the second year, They then seek more control over everything. Here are a few steps I would suggest.
1. Cut down on how often you check to see if she needs to go to the bathroom.
2. When you do ask, change the question from: Do you need to go potty? Which allows a no for an answer, to: Do you want to go right now or do you want to go in three minutes? 90% of children will want to wait, especially if they like being in charge. Once they made their choice then you are merely enforcing their choice.
3. Have a book or two that are only for in the bathroom.
4. After the child goes in the toilet the party is not over. Children need to spend more time to fully take care of business. Have them stay until the story is over, the timer goes off, etc. so that they give their bodies a chance to relax from the tensing it does after going a little bit. It is interesting that a large number of children will actually mess their pants within 20 minutes of peeing in the toilet because their bodily functions are not in sync.
5. Use a reward for being successful for a whole day for a child that is almost three years old. They are old enough to understand what you are asking. When accidents happen, say "that's okay we can try again tomorrow." If you think a full day is too long a time then go in half days.
6. Involve the child in clean up but don't make it too special.


  1. Interesting... Levi is my most strong willed (surprise, surprise) but he was really quite easy to potty train. AND, he's my only one who is consistently dry through the night. Any tips on that one? I'm so done with stinky bedrooms!

  2. Interesting about having them wait for a few more minutes...these are some good tips! I especially like the choices. Jane

  3. There are times when family history also impacts children and not staying dry. Another factor is physiology. If the plumbing is okay then it comes down to manipulating the factors you can control.
    1. Limit intake after 6 pm
    2. Get him up before going to bed yourself.
    3. If one of you wakes up in the middle of the night then run him into the bathroom (for some children they know they need to go but hope they can stay in bed and make it go away).
    4. In the morning get him up as soon as possible.

    During the day (8am - 4pm) load on the water and make him wait when he needs to go. Start by having him wait 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, etc. This gradually builds both elasticity in the bladder, but also muscle control in keeping things held in.

    Children want to conquer this so get them thinking you are their ally rather than the "Pee Police"

  4. Okay, Dr. W.
    This is the G'ma...To whom were you referring when you mentioned about wondering where you could find a family full of strong-willed children? I could possibly take exception if I allowed myself to really think about it!

  5. VERY good tips! Im going to try these. Thank you!