The Importance of Nakedtime During Potty Training
Why going clothes-free can be a successful toileting tool
How to Introduce It—and When
If your child has a regular schedule of eliminating, we suggest coordinating nakedtime sessions for when he or she is more likely to go. If your child doesn’t have a regular schedule, simply begin at a convenient time. Plan to start with peeing first, although of course you can never be sure this will be the first to happen. You can try to increase the odds by giving an extra cup of water before or during nakedtime.
When introducing the idea of nakedtime, parents should not present it as having anything to do with potty training. One of the best reasons for using this technique is that it is very passive and natural, so you should protect that atmosphere.
Talking to Your Child:
Mom:Hey sweetie, what if I let you do something wild and crazy? Wanna play this morning without wearing any clothes?
Dad: You don’t want to get dressed in the clothes I picked out for you? How about if you just wear your birthday suit then?
Mom: Oh no, we don’t have any clean clothes for you today! Well, I guess you’re going to have to be naked for a little while until we can get this laundry washed!
What If There’s an Accident?
Without any pressure, your child, even one who’s been reluctant to try to go on the potty, will be able to subtly begin training. To them, running around naked is just a new way to play, but as soon as the first accident happens, they slip naturally into potty training.
That first accident can’t really be considered an accident, because they haven’t yet learned the correct behavior. Because you aren’t letting them know this fun nude game is about potty training, the first time they pee or poop during nakedtime will serve as the introduction to the idea of going on the potty. When your son or daughter goes, you should point it out in a matter-of-fact tone and explain that happens with everyone. At this point, your child will be more likely to really listen to and absorb the overarching biological lesson you give him/her. Typically, kids don’t like having pee or poop all over themselves, and so you can naturally and casually show them where the potty is and how they can use that the next time so it won’t be so messy. This first “accident” is all about observation and the dawning of knowledge.
At first, when your son or daughter pees, you’ll probably have to point it out—she or he may not even notice it is happening until they feel it start to trickle down their legs. Most likely, they will not be able to stop mid-stream. Recognize this and talk them through it.
Talking to Your Child:
Mom: Oh, look, honey, I think you’re going pee-pee.
Child: (upset) Mommy!!
Mom: That’s okay. Look, we can clean you up real quick. You know, if that happens again we can run super fast to the bathroom and you can go in there just like I do. (Or, if you’re already in the bathroom: When this happens, you can just sit on the potty like Mommy does. Do you want to try that now?)
Many children will be distressed by the pee running down their legs at first, and you should react with the same calm, relaxed demeanor you have when talking about anything potty related. If your child hasn’t yet tried to sit on the toilet, now is a good time to broach the subject, but do not unexpectedly put them on there while they are already dealing with the stress of their first accident. Offer the option of trying it right now; there is a chance your child tensed up enough to stop their stream and perhaps has a little more pee they can put into the potty—and hurrah, you have a fantastic experience upon which to kick off your potty training in earnest.
If, however, your child recoils from your suggestion to sit on the potty, respond in the same composed manner, “That’s okay, maybe you’ll want to next time.”
Determine before you start nakedtime how you’ll go about clean-ups, both of the liquid and solid variety, so you aren’t caught off guard. Have supplies close by, so you can tend to both your child’s emotional disappointment at an accident as well as your own need to do a fast cleanup job. Do not blame your daughter or son if their bodily fluids do any serious damage to a floor covering or anything else. After all, you’re the one who took the diaper off knowing full well she or he doesn’t know how to control those muscles yet. Cleaning should be matter-of-fact; don’t make a big deal about it.
Using Nakedtime for Training Success
Repeat all of the above with each nakedtime session and build up from every success. Take something positive from each session and praise her for this effort. If, for instance, she started to realize she had to pee but didn’t quite make it to the potty on time, you should tell her what a great job she’s doing recognizing the signs her body gives her when she has to go. If your son peed in the toilet two out of four tries, make a big deal to your spouse or partner that he did it twice! (Some kids even want to save their pee or poops for mommy or daddy to see when they get home, which is fantastic because it means they’ve made this a goal.) You can acknowledge the two failures or ignore them based on which response will best suit your child’s personality, and then move forward.
If your child has no successes on a particular day, give him a thumbs up anyway and let him know you are proud of him for trying. Keep your expectations to yourself and remain unruffled about setbacks. Praise your child’s efforts in an authentic, meaningful way to positively reinforce their good behavior. Continue to identify the signs and feelings of needing to pee so that your child will be able to start to recognize them.
Outside of the nakedtime sessions, you can continue to keep your child in diapers until you feel like they’re making some headway. Nakedtime is for studying their own body language, and for realizing when their bladder is full, how to control it (and the colon too, although pooping can be left for later lessons if it doesn’t naturally become a part of nakedtime), and hold the pee until they get to the bathroom. Once you iintroduce underwear, the focus of training will become more about holding it for longer periods of time and trying to go even when they may not feel like it.
When to Stop Nakedtime
As great as nakedtime is as a teaching tool, there will come a time when it won’t be as useful. If you feel like no headway is being made, you can discontinue the sessions or put them on hold for a while to try some other strategies.
There may also come a time when your child (often the boys, purely for physiological reasons, but this does also happen with girls) starts to spray or play with their waste. Although this can be aggravating and just plain gross, it may indicate some success in your teaching method. If your son or daughter is engaging in purposeful peeing or pooping, that should be evidence that the child understands the mechanics of the process and has some element of control. Parents don’t need to get into a big fuss about the mess, but we would suggest restricting or eliminating nakedtime at this point—it will have served its purpose for potty training and will instead deteriorate into peeing or pooping just for fun, or to press parents’ buttons.
Excerpted from Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child by Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D. Copyright © 2008 Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission. All rights reserved. www.amacombooks.org.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN