So excited I got to do a Q&A with potty training guru, Michelle Swaney for all of you. Michelle is the owner/founder of The Potty School. As you know I had the opportunity to take her online class. Not only am I blogging about my personal experience, I thought it might be wonderful to get some tips just for you.
Got potty questions? Check them out and be sure to check out her class offerings at www.thepottyschool.com.
How do you know your child is ready to potty train?
If you're ready, your child is ready. (The crowd stops to ponder...did she really just say that?!!!) But, at The Potty School we know that all parents aren't “ready” at birth – which is totally fine! Our tag line is 'we're ready when you're ready'. I know that parent-led potty training sounds crazy to our society that wants to wait for a child to have dry diapers on his/her own, or for a child to 'show' interest' in pottying... I agree that they naturally do those things. The catch is that babies show those signs and signals and if we ignore the signals by diapering them for years (during prime developmental growth periods), they often just stop signaling. That makes it harder to un-train them from diapers when they are 'potty training age appropriate', which our society generally says isn't until 2 or 3-years-old.
People around the world for generations have been potty trained well before the current U.S. average of 35-months for girls and 39-months for boys. In fact, the potty training age in the U.S. has doubled since disposable diapers hit the market!
All that to say, YOU as the parent get to decide when to potty train your child, and it is possible, starting with elimination communication as early as birth, but you need to do what’s right for your family. You are the parent, the guide…you lead the way.
What is your favorite potty product?
My all-time favorite is the Baby Bjorn Seat Reducer . I love how it adjusts to any toilet seat, safe and securely. It has a legitimately non-slip surface, has a hook to hang-up when not in use, and best of all Baby Bjorn just makes high quality products that withstand the test of time...and multiple children! (I also love, and personally own, their “Potty Chair” “Smart Potty”: and stools. (Our family does a sort of volunteer 'pre-foster care’ so we have extra kiddos around from time-to-time. We need all the longevity we can get from a product!)
My most recent favorite product is called the "Potette Plus". It doubles as a seat reducer and stand alone travel potty AND folds down super small! You can use grocery store bags, or their biodegradable bags that have soaker pads for super easy clean-up!
What is one thing you'd wish parents knew before potty training?
It's a learning milestone! If our child were learning to stand we wouldn't prevent him from doing so. If he were walking somewhere,would we put bumps in the way to make to harder? When we treat pottying as the self-mastery milestone that it is, we truly value the independence, bodily self-awareness and intellect that it takes. It's good for our children, and even our babies, to be encouraged in their abilities. If we don't ever foster for them what that independence looks like, how are they going to know?
Advice for pottying in public?
Post-it's!!! Love 'em! Stash a pad in your diaper bag and pop one of those bad boys over the automatic toilet sensors so they don't go off unexpectedly and alarm your kiddo. Works like a gem!
What should a mom do before beginning potty training?
We all need a little potty training love. Have someone who has already potty trained give you a little pep talk, even if they're not using the same method as you. We Mommas need to stick together. Our knowledge is incredibly valuable...and our encouragement to one another is amazingly powerful! The reason I even have a job teaching potty training is because at some point parents stopped passing on parenting wisdom to future generations. It can be a frustratingly lonely experience if you don't have a friend to call and be encouraged by, and if you have really know what you're doing.
A tip to motivate a child to potty train?
Normalize, normalize, normalize! It is normal for people in our culture to put their pee and poo in the potty. We don't need to dance, bribe with videos, candy, stickers or even high fives (though I know all have benefits through various methods). We just need to point out what's going on currently and then provide them (confidently, not in question form) with what the answer is. 'It looks like your pants are wet...next time tell me you need to potty and I'll help you put your pee pee in the toilet.'
And a bonus tip I firmly believe in...give them a pep talk!
Even if you are potty training a 15-month-old (which is totally reasonable, and most likely closer to the age at which your grandparents were potty trained...), explain what is going to happen, what's happening and then what happened. 'We're going to be putting our pee pee in the potty starting tomorrow morning. You are going to get to start wearing big girl undies, and when you're done you get to flush every time you put pee pee or poo poo in the toilet!' Then the day of tell them what's happening 'You're starting to do a pee pee dance, so we're going to push down those big girl undies, put the pee pee in the potty and then you get to flush the toilet!'' Then re-cap for them (for both a catch or a miss). 'You did a pee pee dance, Mommy helped you get to the potty, you pushed your pants down with my help, you put the pee pee in the potty and then you got to flush the big potty all by yourself!'