Toilet Teaching Techniques: Experts' Methods
A Simple Two-Step: T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., and Joshua Sparrow, M.D., famed child-development specialists, suggest beginning toilet learning with several practice sessions. Have your child sit on the potty fully clothed, with a parent nearby. Take this time to talk about the potty, how it’s used, and how it’s similar to the toilet Mommy and Daddy use. You can also use this time to read a toilet-learning book together.
After introducing the potty a few times, Drs. Brazelton and Sparrow recommend letting your child run around bare-bottomed—but remind her that she can certainly “try” the potty if she feels the need to go. (Keep an eye out for signs and help guide her to the potty if you see that tell-tale look.) The doctors add the realistic caveat, “[This] may work immediately; it may not.”
Careful Conditioning: William Sears, M.D., a proponent of attachment parenting, offers toilet training advice similar to that of Drs. Brazelton and Sparrow—although he believes parents should “condition” their child to use a toilet. “Toilet-training is a partnership, with proper roles assigned to each person,” writes Sears on his website. “You can lead a baby to the bathroom, but you can't make him go.”
Dr. Sears offers several different approaches to toilet learning, including a guide for toilet training in two days with several tips to consider before starting, plus information on what to do if your child refuses to go and how to handle toilet training during travel.
The two-day guide advocates charting a child’s diaper bowel movements for a few days, then trying to catch an impending bowel movement by getting the child to the potty in time. Eventually, the child learns the connection between urine or a stool and the potty. “The bottom line [to toilet learning] is helping your baby achieve a healthy toilet-training attitude,” writes Dr. Sears. He further explains that toilet training should be an exciting interaction between parent and child, rather than a dreaded task, adding, “From a baby's viewpoint, toileting is his initiation into ‘bigness’—a rite of passage from toddlerhood into preschoolerhood.”