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Potty Training Prep

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Updated on Jan 11, 2013

If your child isn’t ready to potty train, there’s nothing you can do but wait. Right? Not according to Dr. Linda Sonna, professor of psychology at Yorkville University.Dr. Sonna is the author of ten parenting books, including Early-Start Potty Training. She strongly believes that parents can set the foundation for successful potty training long before a youngster gets her first Pull-Up.

It’s the Attitude That Counts

Has your grandmother chastised you for holding your nose around your toddler’s dirty diapers? In previous generations experts believed that young childreninnately feel disgust at the sight of human feces. The parents’ job, therefore, was to hold back from adding to that negative feeling, since it could make kids feel ashamed that they produce objects of such disgust, undermining successful potty training.

But don’t worry – it turns out that the experts of years past had it all wrong. “Just as most children eventually come to share their parents’ view that grasshoppers are either delicious, nourishing treats or critters that must not go in the mouth, children also take their cues about wet and soiled diapers from their parents,” says Dr. Sonna.“Occasionally curling up your nose and gingerly handling dirty diapers won’t do any harm – you probably do the same when wiping your child’s runny nose with a tissue – and this can be a way to communicate that avoiding contact with pee and poop is important for avoiding germs.”

So how can you make your child’s attitude towards elimination more positive? Focus on helping them to develop a sense that good hygiene smells good and feels good. That means changing the diapers of infants or toddlers as soon as they become wet or dirty so that they will feel that being clean and dry is “normal.” If you let your child sit in a soaking diaper on a regular basis, you may have trouble convincing her that wet underwear is uncomfortable. In fact, potty training often takes less time for children who wear cloth diapers rather than disposable ones. The main issue with disposables is that children don’t even learn to difference between a clean diaper and a wet one, since the moisture is wicked away and absorbed.

Encouraging Potty Talk

One area that many parents overlook when it comes to preparing for potty training is making sure that their children understand basic potty vocabulary. Even before potty training begins, you’ll want to look out for your child’s signs of elimination so that you can give them the words they’ll need to describe each bodily function. “You’re peeing now! See how it feels?” can go a long way towards helping young toddlers understand what you’re saying down the line, when potty training begins. The words “wet” and “dry” are also important to use often. If you ask your toddler whether his diaper is wet or dry, you might be surprised to find out that he doesn’t know which word to use to describe it.

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