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Published February 06, 2012, 11:30 PM

Focus on kids’ strengths to lower potty-training stress

Toilet training is one of the major life skills we all master in order to lead a normal life. Approaching this lesson with patience, compassion and understanding will go a long way with helping your child master this skill.

By: Priscilla J. Dunstan, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, INFORUM

Toilet training is one of the major life skills we all master in order to lead a normal life. Approaching this lesson with patience, compassion and understanding will go a long way with helping your child master this skill. By understanding how your child’s dominant sense affects their mastery of toilet training, you will be able to understand their learning process better, and achieve the goal of an end to diapers more quickly and with little upset.

Tactile children are resistant to being forced into change, especially a change as personal as toilet training, which affects them in such an intimate, physical way. Therefore, they are often the last children to officially cast off the shackles of a diaper. This is not as bad as it sounds, because once they do finally feel ready, tactile children are actually the easiest to train, and they end up having very few accidents after the job has been done. The trick is to have them want to learn, through mental cohesion. Point out that big boys who play soccer don’t wear diapers, that wearing a diaper means they can’t climb on the beanbags or that the friends they have play dates with are all toilet trained. They will prefer to have a seat and step set up rather than a moveable potty.

Auditory children respond to methodical teaching with lots of verbal explanations about, how, when and why to help them understand what you are encouraging them to do. You will find that your auditory toddler responds to routines, such as always going to the potty after a meal, or before leaving the house and before going to bed. When accidents do happen, try to keep your verbal expression positive, and refrain from groans and sighs as this will make your auditory child feel inadequate. Try to keep the potty in an area within earshot of the rest of the family, as an auditory child will not like to go away by themselves into an echoey bathroom at the end of the hall.

Visual children will tend to master toilet training more quickly than children of other senses, but this doesn’t mean you should start toilet training prematurely. (Bladder and kidney problems can occur in adult life as a result). Visual children can be a little more self conscious than others when it comes to accidents. If a mistake is made, try not to draw attention to it in front of others and change them quickly. Start the process at home and remain there for a few days, with only short trips out until they feel confident they won’t have an accident. If you are encountering some resistance simply pointing out that sibling’s friends and Mommy and Daddy use the toilet, should be enough to have them want to learn.

With taste and smell children it is important to start toilet training in a calm, gradual and gentle way. Their sensitivity to their emotional environment is often reflected in how well they master skills, and this includes physical ones such as toilet training. Try to keep the pressure off and set them up to win by starting small and moving forward in small steps. You may well find that your taste and smell child will wear a diaper at night for some time or for high stress events, purely for the safety feeling of them and not because they need them. If they do make a mistake, assure them that everybody does when they are learning and that you still love them.

Patience, small steps and encouragement are all keys to helping your child to be toilet trained. Each child will master this skill at their own pace so try to keep it as low stress as possible.

CHILD SENSE

Priscilla J. Dunstan is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of "Child Sense." Learn more about Dunstan and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com

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