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Toileting: What's the Fuss?

Toileting: What's the Fuss?
By Kathie Sarles, posted on March 5, 2015

This is a REPOST but worth a read....
There are many good parenting articles, blogs and DVDs that address this very natural and routine milestone,( look for these in our resource center). There are also many sage and “helpful” relatives and friends that offer advice on this issue. When it comes right down to it there are only 2 people who matter in this specific skill development: the child and the caregiver (s). It is up to you and your child to decide when you are ready and what method to use.
Below are the things to think about and the steps that might be helpful on this short, but intense journey.
Is your child ready? His chronological age is not a factor in this specific checklist. If he/ she is between 2 and 3 it is a good time to look for the signs.

  • Is your child dry for period of two or more hours at a time? ( if he isn’t, then you should wait his bladder might not be mature enough)

  • Is your child letting you know she is wet or dirty? ( may not want to change diaper but is aware of what is happening , and may use some word or sign)

  • Is your child aware of the feeling he has to go (may squirm or jump up and down, or go behind the couch or somewhere to have a bowel movement).

  • Does your child show interest in YOUR toileting habits ( may watch you urinate or point or ask questions)

  • Does she/ he use words or signs to indicate the need to go or that he/ she went.

  • Finally can he/she pull down pants ( if motor is impaired it may be harder and you might want to wait).

Next, are YOU ready? You are a big part of the success of this milestone.

  • Do you have the time to dedicate (if you have a busy work schedule or relatives coming it may need to wait a week to start).

  • Do you have supplies? You will need mops and cleaners as accidents will happen. Your child needs to pick out the big boy or girl undies ( or pull ups), and the special books and simple toys designated for potty time.

  • Decide on a potty… is it the big one or little one ( you know your child best)

  • Do you have a plan in mind, and are you willing to be consistent and stick to it?

  • Is everyone in house and at child care on board with you?


  1. Start by talking to your child about what is about to happen for about a week ahead of time. This gives both of you time to process.

  2. Go out to the store with your child and buy his favorite kind of undies or if you decide, pull-ups.

  3. Decide if you are going to use motivators like toys, stickers or food to entice him to use the potty consistently ( if you do, talk about how this will work to your child and buy whatever at the same time as the undies)

  4. Put the diapers out of sight ( you will still need them at night for a short while)

  5. If you can start on a Friday and have that day off great; if not start on a day off like a Saturday and dress your child with minimal clothes for easy access.

  6. Encourage play near the potty or take it with you. Remind child often to go try especally after 6 ounces of fluid…. When they succeed be excited and have them flush!

  7. If there is an accident, Say, “Oh No your forgot to go to the potty, why don’t you take off those wet pants and we will get new ones on?”. (Child may have trouble doing this but as much as possible have him/her do it. It will help them understand that it is better to go in the potty).

  8. Be very matter of fact about accidents, but remind them that there is a feeling when they need to go and that feeling is important. Have children help with clean up and changes of clothes.

  9. Bowel movements are usually harder to catch, but if you know the time when your child typically has a BM be very aware and try to get them into potty to sit for a little while. (Don’t physically make him sit; he will end up afraid.) Or take the BM to the toilet and dump in. This helps with connecting the action with the toilet.

  10. Have patience and be consistent with praise. Don’t put a diaper back on during the day (night time is different at first).

  11. If after 7-10 days your child is not having much successl, tell him that you can try again another time. Let it go. Try in a month or so once again. Most children will not need to try again; it becomes natural and they feel proud!

Breathe in the New Year!

Breathe in the New Year!

Parenting is hard enough, but add in the challenge of a child with delay or disability and your tough job becomes almost insurmountable. Steady breathing, and a calm demeanor are not often attributed to parents of young children. Our children actually take our breath away when they act upon impulse or attempt a new challenge that puts them in danger. Of course the same is true when they accomplish something new or when they just crawl into our laps (and hearts) for some love. Our breath is actually tied to our children’s daily activity and to stop and think about breathing or centering our mind and body may seem unrealistic or a waste of our precious time. Rather than waste your time,however, daily mindfulness will increase your positive time with your child and your entire family.

Mindful breathing creates a calm and offers us a way to respond to life rather than react. It allows us time to be present for the moments that matter and to hold them for reflection before they become just a memory. Mindfulness teaches us to be kind and more importantly, teaches our children about self -regulation. If we practice mindfulness daily our children will learn from our model, and be more receptive to the needs of others. Jon Kabat –Zinn tells us, “It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.” Living in the moment rather than getting through the day will increase your ability to be there for your child.

Begin with small changes to your day. Wake up to 5 long calm breaths, breathing in through your nose and out slowly through your mouth. Think of something positive and hold on to that as you breathe. Sometime later in the day, model purposeful breaths in front of your child and explain why you are doing it. Make sure you are comfortable and with no distractions ( cell phones, TV etc..). These practice sessions will be helpful when either you or your child are beginning to have a meltdown and need to find your center. Breathing will give you the time to make better decisions and will give your child a method to regain composure or regulate themselves.

Research from Dr. Kimberly Schonert Reichi found that children who practiced mindfulness had positive outcomes as they entered school. Concentration and interpersonal skills increased as did reading scores.

As we begin the new year, reflection on our old parenting methods might bring about change in the way we look at our challenges. Change can be difficult but once we begin to see the positive outcomes, mindful breathing may become part of our daily lives.

For more information:, and Mindful Discipline by Shapiro and White.

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