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Ages & Stages: Summer is a great time to tackle potty training

Summer is the perfect time to take some time off and relax. It is beach weather and picnic time – and also the perfect time to tackle potty training. 

While there are specialized potties and stickers and charts that you can purchase, Sandra Olson, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with Bon Secours Primary Care of Greer, andMary Martin, a pediatrician with Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate,agreed that children first need to demonstrate a level of readiness, both physically and mentally. If they can go two hours without using their diapers, it might be a good time to tackle the potty issue. Martin noted that a good indicator of readiness is that the child is “able to communicate that they need to use the potty in some way, be able to get to the toilet independently and be able to pull up and down their own pants and underwear.” 

“Parents should know that nighttime dryness usually comes after daytime dryness,” Olson said.

For parents that may mean setting the potty-training goal in stages. First daytime success, then nighttime success. While it would be ideal to do both at once, they may be months and sometimes years apart. 

“There are some children who stay dry at night at the same age they are dry during the day, but for most children they will be 5 to 7 years old before they are consistently not wetting at night,” Martin said. “Almost every child will outgrow it by age 12.” 

Practically speaking, Olson suggests having a bathrobe at easy reach, disposable sheets to protect the bed and an atmosphere where the child feels comfortable getting out of bed at night to use the bathroom. 

Once your child is potty trained at home, know that you may still have to tackle the hurdle of potty training in public. Daycare and store restrooms all have separate concerns for small children. Communicating with your child about why they are reluctant to consistently use the bathroom outside of your home is key. For automatic flush toilets, it may help to take along a sticky note to cover the sensor.

Most of all, know that this stage will not last forever. Patience and laundry soap are the keys to success. 

“Your child won't go to college wearing diapers,” Martin said.

Like most things with parenting, there is no shortage of advice about what you really need to be successful, but here are a few tips for parents starting the potty process:

·      Children need to have a mental and a physical ability to both know that they have to go and perform the functions of handling pants and sitting on the toilet. Martin saidchildren start showing signs of readiness between 18 and 24 months. Many are not truly ready for potty training until around 2½ or 3 years of age.

·      Wait until your child is ready. While it can be frustrating to wait, forcing a child to potty train could actually prolong the process. 

·      Keep your routine the same throughout the week, as much as possible. The more consistent you are during the process, the faster they will grasp the concept.