Potty Training Reimagined: A Tailored Method for Every Child’s Pace

Why is it that some children breeze through potty training in a few days and others can take months or even years? Is there a way for parents to tell whether their child will struggle with potty training and is there an approach that will make it easier?

The transition from nappies to no nappies can be a big one for your child if you used disposables. They can no longer rely on their wearable toilet (the nappy) and they have to stop what they are doing to use the potty or toilet instead. These requirements present a myriad of complex skills, from being able to listen to their body, know what the feeling means, have the self-control to stop playing, go to the potty or toilet, then use it when they get there. There are over 40 skills that must be mastered before your child can be toilet independent and for a young child, that’s a lot to learn!

Some children cope well with big changes in a short time; they take it in their stride, have a few accidents along the way and they learn from them. For other children, the change will be much much harder for them, e.g. if they
– are perhaps more cautious in nature
– need longer to adapt and process transitions
– have had a difficult time with toileting (constipation, or an anxiety-provoking event such as an embarrassing accident)
– may be sensitive to the newness of how pooing outside a nappy feels

Of those who do struggle, a small minority will experience significant disruption to family life, stress and anxiety and even a breakdown of the parent-child relationship.

4 signs that your toddler is struggling to potty train

– Your child gets very upset without a nappy or pull-up on.
– Your child doesn’t poo every day or starts to avoid doing a wee or poo (withholding).
– Your child seems anxious or afraid of using the potty or toilet.
– Your child refuses to use the potty or toilet or gets very upset around potty time

For parents who experience problems like these, potty training can be very difficult or even distressing and can in fact make potty training long and difficult if you don’t know how to handle it in the best way for your child.  You may already have experienced this and be wondering what to do next. You are not alone – many families go through this.

Perhaps you’ve been told that an intensive 3-day approach, the naked method or other ‘fast-track’ methods will just get them through it. After all, they sound logical – a short stint of learning and you’re done. No need to drag it out, right?

But maybe you have a feeling that a gimmick might not work for your child. Perhaps friends or health visitors have suggested that you wait a little longer until they are  “ready”? (which really means do nothing in the hope that some magical transformation will take place within which potty training will happen on its own.) If you know that readiness has no basis in science and can be considered a myth, what should you do instead?

What can be done?

If your child is showing signs they are struggling with what you have tried so far, or you are worried that they will struggle, the good news is there are alternative ways to approach potty training.

1. Getting good advice from a reputable source makes all the difference, so keep reading
(I’m an NHS children’s research nurse who specialises in potty learning and I’m the Potty Training Advisor to ERIC the children’s bladder and bowel charity).

2. Consider a gentle, multi-step approach
(This helps  break the transition down into smaller steps that your child can take at their own pace and feel more in control of the process).

3. Adapt the approach to suit your unique child’s temperament
(After all, all children are different and a stubborn or anxious child have different needs from the process)

What is a multi-step potty training approach?

Imagine being told you had to climb a mountain without any equipment or instruction. Not easy! But what if you had all the climbing equipment and tools you might need, alongside a dedicated, loving instructor to guide you when you get stuck? The latter is exactly what you get with the multi-step approach.

By breaking down the process into manageable steps you can provide a comfortable and familiar transition from nappies to no nappies, whilst teaching your child the two most important skills of potty training (body awareness and understanding of where their wee and poo need to go now instead of the nappy).

To illustrate: how about starting with teaching them how to listen to their body, practice managing poo hygienically, and learn that being clean and dry is the norm? By taking this approach, stopping nappies is actually the LAST step in the process, not the first!

Using a step-by-step progression encourages your child’s independence, empowers them to take control and build confidence in their abilities and can also be a wonderful bonding experience because you are supporting their individual needs, respecting their autonomy and giving them the tools to master skills and solve problems – something every toddler craves.

You can learn how to potty train your unique child according to their temperament, learn my multi-step approach and troubleshoot from a range of potty training problems with my Advanced Potty Training course.

Here’s a video where I talk about the difference between a 1 step approach (where letting go of nappies is the first step) vs a multi-step approach (where letting go of nappies is the last step)

Here’s some feedback from other parents who found my approach helpful

Tell us about it

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.