We caught up with Winnie Benson, author and founder of PottyTunity – the potty training consultancy service – to talk all things toilet training and answer some of your frequently asked potty training questions.
When it comes to potty training, there’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all method for success. But every parent has to go through it. We caught up with some experts on all things tots and toilets to talk through some of the common potty training questions and dilemmas to help guide you through the process.
PottyTunity provides bespoke, one-to-one services to parents and children as they embark on their potty training journey. Below author and CEO, Winnie Benson, answers some potty training FAQs and explains the PottyTunity method.
What is PottyTunity and what potty training services do you offer?
“PottyTunity is simply Potty + Opportunity put together. The idea itself comes from giving children the opportunity to use the potty, without any hindrance from as early as possible.
“As a mother myself, who started potty training my own children from very young, I had many parents asking me what my secret was. Whilst helping others, I realised that there were more issues with the older children being toilet trained, along with so many skin conditions which were attributed to continuous diaper wearing in both the older and younger children.
“With the demand to assist [with] toilet train others increasing, I decided to write a book about toilet training babies and toddlers, as well as informing parents about the health and environmental issues surrounding continuous nappy wearing.
“Since writing POTTYTUNITY, the book then turned into the brand that it is today.
“We provide bespoke one-to-one services to parents and children through our home, phone and video options. For parents who are comfortable in group workshops, we provide interactive classroom and webinar sessions where they are also able to find comfort in others’ struggles, which helps empower them in knowing that they are not alone if things are not going as easy as others make it out to be!
“We also work with local councils to provide FREE ‘Toilet Training Drop In Clinics’, as well as providing their Early Years Providers with Professional Potty Training & Safeguarding courses. These courses are also available privately to other carers (such as childminders, nannies, etc) within the Early Years settings via classroom and online.”
Is there a best age to start potty training?
“In my opinion, the earlier you start educating a child about understanding their incontinence issues, the better! Potty training can be started from birth, although some people see this as ‘not allowing a child to be a child’.
“If you think about it this way, from birth, we do not give babies choices when it comes to eating and sleeping. Babies are totally dependent on the choices we make for them. I see toilet training as no different.
“When children are starting to be potty trained from [two to three years old], you are increasing the chances of a parental ‘tug of war’, as by that time, they start to become more independent, not wanting to do what is required of them.
“Plus, they are learning so much by then, then you introduce them to this new shiny object (whether it’s the potty or toilet)! You have got to see it from their perspective. ”
What are the most common potty training problems parents experience?
“[There are] so many!
“But ultimately, I would say it would be that they have started with little progress. Though their child seems to grasp the concept of doing a wee, but not a poo. Pooping seems to be more challenging for some kids to grasp, than others.”
Why is it easier for some children to grasp potty training, while others struggle for much longer?
“Some parents may not want to hear this, but it’s down to the parents’ potty training methods, as well as the parenting style.
“Some parents are very relaxed and let their children ‘lead the way’ until ‘they’re ready’, while others are more affirmative in the way they instruct their child to do something. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you get what you put into a child. The choice is yours.
“Having said that, there is an exception if a child has a medical issue, this may also be attributed to them not grasping the concept as well as their peers. Speak to your Health Visitor, GP or a paediatrician if you are in doubt.”
Why might a child regress during their potty training?
I.e. when a new baby arrives – is this common?
“It is very common for children to regress, even after being successfully toilet trained. Regression depends on a child’s surroundings and can occur through factors such as; a new baby, change of house, a holiday, death in the family, the list is endless.
“Some parents feel like failures during this time, then put off toilet training all together until they feel it is ok to continue. When parents do this, they unknowingly give their child the ‘choice’ to get back into toilet training as and when they please.
“There’s no telling how long this may take and it could then set them back developmentally, whilst making the whole process even more frustrating than it needs to be.”
What are the best ways to cope if your child regresses during potty training?
“Parents should have a dose of their vice (as long as it’s legal!), then focus on the issue. You’ve got to look after yourself, before you can look after anyone else.
“Though seriously speaking, to be sure that the child is going through a true regression and not a couple of accidents, you need to ask yourself whether they were truly potty trained in the first place. Are you able to pinpoint the root cause of the regression?
“If a child is going through any form of regression, the parent needs to first of all, remain calm. Parents should then go over the steps that they took in potty training their child in the first place and just repeat those steps, with possibly a few tweaks depending on the situation.
“There’s [may be] no need too change much, or do anything different. A potty trained child would have had a routine, such as waking up [and using the potty] first thing, before a meal, bed, etc… stick to that routine and continue to be consistent with it.”
How should you reward children during potty training?
“Words are the most powerful form of rewards, [better] than any treat or incentive. Plus, they are free!
“Let your children hear you say positive encouraging words. They mean a lot. Remember, children are like sponges, they absorb what they see and hear, so let them hear beautiful statements such as; “Wow, look at that lovely poop that you just did”, or “Well done, you used your potty all by yourself”.”
What outside factors can affect potty training success?
“Incentives! Incentives can come in the form of treats, promises, stickers and so on… These can create anxieties in children, more so if they stop receiving treats or stickers for doing something in their potty.
“What if you run out of these incentives? This could cause them to cry, throw tantrums, not wanting to use the potty again, making the whole process even more difficult than it needs to be. The best incentives should be through the power of encouragement and empowerment through your words.
“Also, as previously mentioned, another factor that could affect potty training success, could indeed be a medical issue. Again, I would strongly recommend for parents to speak to their Paediatrician, GP or Health Visitor about any issues, if you are in doubt about anything.”
Is there a best method for potty training? What are the different options or methods to try?
“I implement 5 methods when toilet training children. These 5 methods are:
- And finally, Patience!
“Each of these methods are broken down further in my book POTTYTUNITY.”
What about night time? What are your top 3 tips for night time potty training success?
“Before a parent tries potty training at night, they should make sure that their child has a consistent potty routine during the day. [Your child] should be dry during the night for a few nights, or not heavily soaked like they used to be upon waking up in the morning.
“My top 3 tips for night time potty training are:
- Make sure your child’s bed is protected with disposable sheets or a mattress protector
- No liquids at least an hour before bed
- Use the toilet right before bed
Are there any golden rules for perfect potty training?
“Yes. Though, these rules are exclusively for the parents to help build their confidence. My 3 C’s: Stay Cool, Calm & Collected!
“I also like to advice mums [and dads] to use their maternity period wisely. If you are able to, implement toilet training within this time period. Otherwise things can become very difficult once you are back at work. Then you [may have] no choice, but to implement potty training at a time when you are juggling work, family and a 2/3-year old child whose favourite word is “No” and they are then able to run faster that Usain Bolt himself.
“To help parents get through this developmental stage of their child’s life, they have to remember, that their main aim is to help improve the health and developmental progress of their child, whilst at the same time help to sustain our environment!
“To any parent reading this, always remember that you’ve got this, stay strong and optimistic. Do not let anyone make you feel otherwise!”
For extra potty training support, you can get a copy of POTTYTUNITY, which is available to order online via most major online bookstores, your local library, or on their website. You can also download the eBook version via Apple Books & Amazon Kindle.
PottyTunity is also offering Baby Magazine readers and subscribers 10% OFF all online purchases. Just enter this code at the checkout: BABYMAG10.
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