Preparing Your Child

Most children who have a strong reaction to potty training are having a reaction to the TRANSITION. Going from wearing a snug, cozy diaper, keeping all your business close to your body to wearing nothing and letting it all go in the toilet is a HUGE transition.

For kids with a diagnosis, particularly “on the spectrum”, any transitions are hard but potty training is particularly difficult. Whenever I work with kids with any spectrum diagnosis, we pay close attention to how to make a smooth transition for the child.  But for the last year, I’ve been trying a transitional trick with clients without a diagnosis and it’s been AMAZING.

So, of course, I have to share.  I’ve been giving it the super fancy name: Preparing The Child.

We all know kids do better with a countdown to any transition. “We are leaving the park in 10 minutes.” ” Okay, now you have 5 more minutes.”  And yet, most times with potty training, we tend to  prompt with “Time to pee NOW.”

Obviously, I’m NOT talking about immediate-need-to-go that sometimes happens. This is for prompts throughout the day and ESPECIALLY for prompts that have to happen; like before leaving the house and getting in the car.

The concept is very simple. TELL YOUR CHILD WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.  But with a smidge more…say it as you want it to unfold. “We are leaving in 20 minutes. In 10 minutes, you will sit and pee, then we will put on your jacket and go out to the car.”  Or something along those lines.  It paves the path for exactly what’s going to happen, gives your child a complete heads up, and gives them your full expectation.  Sounds almost ridiculously simple, right?  But it’s SO helpful!

I just finished working with a client with a very challenging 4 and a half year old. This child had resisted potty training at every turn. We got him going and he was doing pretty good. But suddenly, he had this crazy resistance. At every prompt, he’d pitch a fit. He wouldn’t go and then he’d have an accident. There were tantrums. The whole process sort of melted down.

Then Mom starting preparing him. “We are going to the library. When we get there, you will push down your pants and pee and we will flush it together. You will not have a tantrum. You will not throw a fit. This will be easy peasey for you.”  And wouldn’t you know it? DONE.  She continued to prepare him in this manner for a few more days and he was good!  He needed to be told exactly how it would go down.

What I particularly love about this situation that I personally had never even thought of was, “You will not have a tantrum. You will not have a fit.” Super cool. Now, I can’t claim that this will work across the board for every kid who’s ever going to have a tantrum but it just makes a ton of sense to me to prepare the child for exactly what’s going to happen.

Kids love predictability. This is just one more tool for that toolbox.

These posts, as well as my Youtube videos, podcasts, and Facebook quick tips are meant for your average bump in the road to potty trained. If you are experiencing severe struggles or just need a more personalized plan, please book a consultation with one of our Oh Crap Certified Experts.