Parenting Responsively for Connection - Excerpt from Marcia Hall

Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 5 of the Virtual Book Tour for the E-Book Parenting Responsively for Connection.  Written by ACPI Parenting Coaches for parents to deal with the most difficult task of maintaining connection with the growing child whose behavior changes and shifts.
Yesterday, the book tour stopped by Marcia Hall ’s blog at  Visit now if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet all the authors.
Meantime enjoy this book excerpt

Prepare Your Child for Potty Training

© 2011 by Marcia Hall
            Preparing your child for the transition from diapers to underwear can start at a very young age.  Even a child under the age of one is beginning to understand the world around him.  In fact, even a six month old wants to do the things you do.  Use this to your advantage and model the positive behaviors you want your child to mimic.  Remember, if your goal is to get your child to eat his food with a fork, you'll need to show him that you eat your food with a fork and praise him as he tries to do the same.
            The technique of modeling and imitating is not only successful with teaching appropriate mealtime manners; it's a wonderful tool that can be used during toilet training. To some parents, taking their child with them to the bathroom may sound crude and raise feelings of discomfort, but the reality is that your child needs to see you using the toilet to understand that doing it is a normal and expected event.  If you lock yourself in the bathroom every time you go, your child will never have a chance to witness this natural experience.  In fact, if you only use the toilet behind closed doors, your child may even grow to think that something mysterious and strange goes on in the bathroom, which can create and breed fear.  By treating using the toilet like any other habit, you show your child that using it is just one more thing he will learn to do on his own.
            It is often said that boys potty train later than girls. If we stop and think about this, is it because mothers tend to do most of the training and boys are not exposed to seeing their father's use the toilet regularly? I think this could be the case. That's why it is important for your child to witness the same gender using the potty.  If your little boy never sees another older male use the potty standing up, it will make the process of teaching him to urinate standing up much more difficult.
            Your bathroom vocabulary is another important part of the potty training process.  Using language that your child can understand and even repeat at young ages is key to developing your potty training language.  Though it may be embarrassing for you when your child says he has to go poop in grocery store, most people will understand and laugh with you, not at you.   Decide what words you will use and be consistent with using them.  “Tinkle”, “poop” and “toilet” are popular, recognizable words that many parents use.  Using the word potty when your child goes in his diaper and the word toilet when he goes on the toilet can also help build your child's potty training understanding.  Saying, "you went potty” when your child just soiled his diaper can be confusing if you also use this language when he goes on the toilet.  Using different words and phrases will help separate the two experiences.  If your child is in daycare, you'll also want to be sure to communicate your potty training vocabulary with his caregiver so that she can support your child during this process as well as understand what he's trying to communicate when he has to go.
            When potty training, your words and tone truly affect your child and the potty training outcome. Avoid using harsh or shaming words and tones when changing his diapers, but instead use positive words paired with a positive tone to set an encouraging atmosphere.  While it can be tempting to comment on how gross a diaper smells, doing so could translate to your child that he's done something wrong which could result in feelings of shame and embarrassment.  However, telling your child what you see in his diaper can be helpful.  “Oh, you went tinkle in your diaper” or “You went poop” can help facilitate the understanding of natural bodily functions.
            The next step in preparing your child for potty training involves effective communication.  As your child begins to be interested in your toileting experience, you can start telling him that someday he will go poop and tinkle on the potty too. Articulating these goals is an important step that will help mentally prepare your child to use the toilet.  Be sure to let your child know that he will use the toilet when he is ready.  Say it often and say it in many different ways. 
            Your child was born into this world able to do nothing for himself.  The way he learns to do anything is through observation and experience.  That is why the next part of your potty training journey is to encourage your child to sit on the toilet.  Sometime after his first birthday, invite him to sit on it with you. It is important that if he doesn't want to, you do not force him. While he may not want to sit on the toilet the first few times you ask, don’t stop extending the invitation. You may find that your child is really excited about it the first time you ask, and then is scared to do it few days later.  Don’t worry; this is normal.  Keep at it by being encouraging and staying positive. 
            Another consideration is that generally children love to flush the toilet, so much so that it can be a motivating factor in your child's decision to sit on it. It is a good idea to let your child experiment with flushing it.  However it can scare a child if you flush the toilet when he is on it. This can be particularly scary during the introductory period of potty training.  It could make your child not want to go near a toilet for weeks or more.  Be cautious of this when at a public restroom with an auto flush.  In addition to being loud, they often spray up water that can be frightening to young children.
            Strategically timing when you ask your child to sit on the toilet may be helpful. Children tend to urinate just after drinking a lot of liquid.  If your child has never had the sensation of urinating on the toilet, you could try giving him something to drink just before or while on the toilet.  It is important for your child to have this experience at some point before his transition to underpants. 
            One last training tip is to let your child experience using the toilet outside of your home.  This is important because your child will need to be comfortable going in many places.  If the only place he ever experiments with is home, the move to underwear will be more challenging and worrisome for both him and you. 

Be sure to follow the Virtual Book Tour tomorrow when the next stop is the blog Day 7 with Sedef Örsel Özcelik. Sedef has blogs in English and Turkish to share with you.,          (Turkish)

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