daily parenting

Potty What!

Here I am, starting all over after having an only child for almost 7 years, and I am totally clueless on how to begin the process of potty training my almost 2 year old. My older daughter was a piece of cake, this little one, not so much. Karter is one of the smartest toddlers I know, with no bias, lol. Did I mention that she will come up to her father and I after soiling her diaper to ask to be changed. As an early childhood professional, I am a true believer of letting your child show you they are eager to conquer a new task naturally. But Karter, has mommy going crazy, as she is showing tons of signs of being ready. I posed a question to my social media mommies asking for some of the best strategies and/or tips on the secrets to potty training, so of course I had to share!

Signs of Readiness

It is important to note that as parents we naturally feel the need to compare children. If it's comparing them to kids at the park, or siblings, it's hard to not want your child to be the best at whatever they do. Children are truly one of a kind. Potty training before 2, or after entering preschool is not more genius than the other. In the same breathe if your'e truly concerned that your child is not interested I would take them to a primary health physician to get more feedback. Also notice changes in environment, and survey all aspects of your child's life that could be impacting their ability to toilet train. Some concerns may be validated by an alternative source, so be aware of your child's capabilities and move forward with that in mind. There are some truth-telling signs that your child is eager to move forward and is possibly ready to begin potty training.

  1. A decrease in wet diapers- if they are capable of waiting hours in between wet diapers, they are more prepared to be toilet trained. This tells you they have the ability to hold it until they can release. 
  2. They can announce it- in my case Karter will directly tell me "Mommy I poop", or will ask to be changed because it feels uncomfortable. She now understands her bodily functions, and the need to be clean.
  3. They have the ability to undress- fine and gross motor skills are necessary. If your child seems ready but cant pull his pants down, there's a problem. Begin to teach the process of pulling there pants up and down. Need more practice in those areas google fine/gross motor activities to help.
  4. They are curious- Nothing is more curious than your child following you to see how it's done. This means they want to know how they could possibly master it themselves. Act on your child's curiosity.  
  5. Predictability- If your child is going routinely after eating and drinking, this can make toilet training easy. As parents you know when your child needs to go and so do they!
  6. And most importantly- they demonstrate wanting to be independent, and take pride in their accomplishments- this is displayed by them having the motivation to want to be toilet trained and feeling the reward of doing so.

Okay are they ready?! Here we go....

Top 10 Potty Training Tips!

1. No Pull Ups- My mommy friends tell me this is a big no no! It feels too much like a diaper. The feel of a diaper allows your child to believe they can still soil themselves and/or are confused on if it is indeed a diaper. Allow them to feel uncomfortable, to encourage them to not want to feel that way again. I received a great tip of something called plastic undies. The idea is that they don't get the clothes wet, but the child can still feel the sense of wetness. Genius!

2. Freedom Reigns- I've heard through the grapevine that 3 complete days of nakedness does the trick. This means delegating time to just allow them to be free to hurry and get to the potty. Allow for tons of accidents. After they have mastered going to the potty naked, begin trying to implement having on clothes.

3. Favorite Undies- If your child is anything like every other kid in this world...they have a favorite character/object of some sort. I am hoping it is a character that can be brought as underwear. Encourage them to not get Dora, Trucks, Elmo wet. My daughter is obsessed with frozen. I'll make a big deal of it by saying "Don't get Anna wet, that makes her sad". Practicing feelings and potty training. Win win.

4.  Bribes- Sticker charts, treats, candy...whatever will kick in the enthusiasm. Nothing like getting an instant reward for pleasing the parentals. Make sure they are motivated by the reward, by it being something they don't get often. Don't feel comfortable giving candy, don't do it. Do what works for you and your child.

5. Special Toys- A mother shared with me, that she purchased a toy that their child only played with during potty time. I thought, GENIUS! What a way to get your child to sit still. I then thought of the massive meltdown once it's over. But hey beggars can't be choosers, pick your battles wisely.

6. Books and Music- Prep is everything. The more you expose your child to the concept of being toilet trained, the more prepared they are to complete the task. Visit your local library, and youtube for songs and books specific about going to the potty!

7. Target Practice- Make a game of it. One game a friend of mine suggested is putting a cheerio in the potty and letting their son have target practice. Sounds safe to me!

8. Big or Little Pot- Some kids prefer going to the adult size toilet, for others this can be intimidating. Find what it is your child fears so they are not super anxious or reserved about going.

9. Praise/Model- Nothing is better than positive reinforcement. You can never give your child enough verbal praise. Kids enjoy pleasing parents, and crave positive attention. The more you bring attention to it, the more likely they will do it. Praise yourself and make a big deal out of it. You go use the restroom, bring them, and tell yourself out-loud "I did it"!

8. Clock Work- Time is everything. Be routine and structured about it. Observe how long it takes your child to digest food, or hold water. Take note of your child's body and use it towards your advantage.

10. Patience is a Virtue- Allow your child to show you the signs that I covered earlier. The thought of not buying diapers is awesome, but you don't want to make for a traumatizing experience. Kids who are often rushed, regress back, or have an increase of accidents.

With all this being said. Karter is just not ready, or at least I didn't conquer it this week. She won and I'm totally okay with that. She is excelling in areas, and reserved in others. I don't blame her for wanting to be my baby for a little longer. I will continue to encourage her without being forceful. I want her to feel proud when she is ready to succeed at going. Often times we as parents rush are children to grow up, and then when they are older we wish they had stayed young. Enjoy your children just where they are. Nothing more precious than time...

Skills should be encouraged, not forced.
— Mommy Wells

Supporting Self-Regulation

Close your eyes and picture this:

Your 2 year old is home, running around per usual. He/she notices that their sibling is playing with a toy that sparks their interest. Your 2 year old goes and snatches the toy screaming "this is mine!" As they proceed to run with the toy, they miss a step and fumble. Not only did they just lose the ball, but now they are hurting. All you hear is screams.....

Does this sound familiar? This seems like an everyday occurrence at my home. Accidents and emotional breakdowns happening left and right, with a toddler whose only response is to cry, and a tween that has a slight attitude problem. Well I am here to tell you that we can decrease breakdowns by understanding our role in developing your child's self-regulation skills.

What is Self-Regulation?

Before I write a novel, I will simplify all that self regulation encompasses. Self-regulation is the process that your child goes through that gives them the ability to control their behaviors and emotions. Children develop at different rates, this is also true for self-regulation. It is important to understand that self-regulation does not occur in isolation. Physical behaviors such as needing to be rocked, thumb sucking, swaddled, feeding, etc.; are all driven by getting an specific need met. These are early signs of self-regulation. Emotional regulation is a child's discovery of how to manage their emotions to socialize with peers and adults. This is exhibited by learning how to share, throwing tantrums, following the rules, and saying one's needs. Demanding "this is mine!". Self-regulation involves using tools to help work and process challenging moments. Those same tools require thoughtful planning by both parent and child.  



Why is this important?

Self-regulation is the foundation of early childhood development. It's the seed planted to assist adults with managing emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If we give children the ability to learn strategies to stay calm in stressful situations. As they begin to grow into adults they will continue to use the same habits of using effective coping skills. Hence, self-regulation works as a bridge. During the preschool years children have to learn several new concepts. This includes but not limited to learning how to sit, listen, share, follow directions, and rules. This all happens simultaneously and continuously. Not to mention one day children are protected from the world by parents, the next day we are prepping them to face the world on their own (preschool). This idea can be overwhelming for little ones. The more we understand how we can guide our children to self-regulate, the more we can begin to feel comfortable about letting them go off into the world alone...

This week I will be sharing via social media, fun, simple self regulation strategies/games! I will leave you with a few simple ideas here on the site.

Allow your child to consume lots of water. Fueling with water is necessary to keep our nervous system to stay calm.

Lots of sleep. Kids can sleep up to 12-14 hours a day. And they absolutely need it! Lack of sleep makes for a challenging day!

Provide opportunities for free play/outdoor play. Let the energy out. Increase heart rate=more blood flow to the brain= brain power.

Walks... My older daughter when feeling emotional dysregulated just needs a walk for fresh air. As her body begins to increase with happy hormones that by physical activity, she presents as more calm.

Blowing bubbles is the same idea of practicing deep breathing. When you blow bubbles too quickly or too slow, it may cause for a disaster. But if you do it from the belly, at the right tempo, you get the perfect amount. Show kids how to deep breathe by using bubbles. Plus who doesn't like bubbles, lol.

Read books about feelings and that offer sensory stimulation. I love Todd Parr books, he does an amazing job displaying an array of feeling vocabulary. Usbourne children's books offers the use of sensory. "That's not my"...books use textures to stimulate your young reader. Sensory is linked with self-regulation. Offer sensory items to help keep your child regulated.

Music! Again this is linked with sensory play. Music is known to be something that allows you to stay relaxed. It is also an opportunity for your child to use both sides of their brain!

Kids Yoga! Yoga is a great way for kids to connect to their bodies, stay focused and calm themselves. Try adding 15 mins a day or after a meltdown!

Kids Yoga! Yoga is a great way for kids to connect to their bodies, stay focused and calm themselves. Try adding 15 mins a day or after a meltdown!

I would like to challenge you to allow your child during the next meltdown to do one of these as a way to redirect a challenging behavior. Take advantage of moments that provide you with an opportunity to teach. When you put your child in time out, offer bubbles; can't get a child to share, read a book about sharing. That 2 year old we discussed earlier was able to get up, come to mommy, and ask for a simple hug. The perfect coping strategy to help self regulate :-)