More Preparation Tips

Psychological Preparation

So now we're going to take a look at some really useful aspects of psychological preparation, observing and reflecting on their feelings. Some children will be excited about getting the next step, taking away their nappies, and others might just need a little bit of help. Saying bye to their nappies might cause them to be a little reticent about losing them. So put into words what you think they're feeling. There is more about this in the reflective listening section. Children are often quite excited about the idea of leaving nappies behind. And so then we can reflect on that and say, “Isn't it going to be fun that you don't have to have nappies anymore and you can take yourself to the toilet and you're going to be so grown up and you'll be wearing your new underwear!”

I would just be aware that they may have a both feelings, a mixture of excitement and apprehension. You can make the comparison with your child about how at first they didn’t know how to crawl and then they learned to crawl. Once they’d mastered the crawling they began to learn to walk and then then they started to be able to move faster and now they can run and they can jump. Today they can do things for themselves and they’re just becoming so much more independent in so many ways. It's great to communicate the idea of progress and talk to them about how far they’ve progressed and get them feeling excited about the idea of potty training being a part of progression.

Body Functions

Talk about how their body functions, about all the good things that their body does, both from the physical aspect of what they can physically do and the perspective of how their body works. Talk about bladder capacity. This is something that most parents, and certainly most children, don't really realise, but the bladder capacity for a child between two and three is approximately 180 ml, which is about six fluid ounces. A great experiment to do with your child is to fill a jug together with 180 of water (you could add a couple of drops of yellow food dye to the water to make it look more authentic). Then get a funnel and a balloon and fill the balloon with the water in the jug.  That shows them what their bladder capacity is - see page 45 for full description. Talk about the different times of day when they're going to need to use the potty. They've been following you around probably and you've been showing them when you need to use the toilet. Talk to them about the fact that when they first start, they're probably going to need to go more frequently than you do because their bladder capacity is growing and it doesn't hold as much as a grown up. The different times of the day for regular visits to the potty or toilet are when they first wake up in the morning, before they go out, before (or after) each meal and before bath time and before bedtime. If you get them into a routine with this, it is very helpful.


More Psychological Preparation

Talk about needing to interrupt play to use the potty. I call this FOMO, fear of missing out. Quite often when children have an accident it is because they're so intent on doing what they're doing they just don’t notice their body signals. They may know they need to go but worry that if they're interrupted and have to leave it, they may not be able to come back to their game or perhaps to watching a TV program. They don't want to stop doing what they are doing. Therefore, you need to talk to them about the fact that they will need to stop, go and use the potty, and then they can come back. Reassure them that they'll be able to come back to what they're doing.

There is a technique you can use called Stop and Go. This will help you with your child’s FOMO. Show them the Stop sign and explain that they need to stop what they are going (this is particularly if  you are seeing signs that they need to go like the potty jiggle) and then show the Go sign to show they need to go to the potty.

Walking through in advance how using the potty is going to work is often helpful. Taking their clothing off, getting them sitting on it, practise times without a nappy. This can be great before their bath in the evening, have them take off the nappy perhaps a little bit before, 20-30 minutes before so they can run around without one and do practise times. And you may well at that point be able to catch them and get them to produce something on the potty or on the toilet.

Depending on what stage you're at, at this point, you may be able to get the concept that when they go out, you're going to take a travel potty with you or that you'll find toilets for them to use. Talking to them about this will reassure them that it's not just about them being without nappies at home, but it's also about when they go out. Discuss with your child the transition to their nursery and daycare. Who's going to help them at the nursery? Visit the toilet at the daycare so that they’re really psychologically prepared in advance. All this is going to help you make fast progress.

Partnership with other adults

Now it's time to start thinking about other people involved in your childcare. It’s really important to think about who else has interactions with your child. Do they spend a consistent amount of time with the grandparent? Do they go to a childminder? If you’re separated, do they have time with the other parent? All these people are involved in your childcare and they need to be involved in the potty training process. They need to be using the same terminology. Particularly what you call poo or wee. Whatever terms you choose it is better if everyone is consistent. It may be that you just need to adapt your child to the fact that at their nursery or day-care, they use different terminology. Ideally, you're using the same, check out the other environments and the attitude of the other people. What you really want is for everyone to be on the same page. You want everybody to have a positive attitude. You want the environment to be calm and friendly towards your child's potty training.

Creating partnerships is so important. Partnerships really are usually between a nanny or nursery or a grandparent. Good partnerships are going to be what helps make the potty training successful. So good communication, making sure that you when things start to get moving with potty training, that you're communicating with each other and you're telling each other what is working and what isn't working. That's what I mean by partnership.

Shopping and Preparation

First thing on the list would be underwear. I mentioned this already, but special underwear picked out by your child so that they are motivated to start to wear it is so important. It could be a special character. It could be a color. It could be a design that they like. Make sure that your child likes the underwear and let them pick it.  


Next on the list is, toilet seat

Make sure that it's a good quality one that that fits, that their size and their shape and that your child finds it reasonably appealing. The toilet seat insert shouldn’t slip around if you're using that.  

Potty friendly clothing, this is really, really important. You want to have things that are easy to pull up and pull down, so you don't want clothes that are tight with buttons, zips or any complicated fasteners. You also want to make sure you've got plenty of clothes. You don't necessarily have to go out and buy stuff. In fact, ideally you are not buying new stuff. But make sure that whatever clothing you've got ready is potty friendly so things like leggings, sweatpants, shorts with elasticated waists, wide skirts that they can easily lift up to sit down.


You can get protect pads for the buggy and the car seat. These can be really useful. You can get them from most of the makers that sell nappies. You’ll need towels for cleaning up in the beginning, there may be a certain amount of cleaning up to do. I can't say which way your child's going to go, but be prepared that there will probably will be some mess and old towels are good for cleaning it up. You might also want an old blanket for putting over the sofa. That can be quite useful because when they’re sat on the sofa, they may not notice they’re wet as it gets absorbed quickly.

So those are some really good ideas for you to go shopping and buy. And I'm not suggesting spending too much money, but just make sure you’re prepared.