Potty Training-A Simple 4 Step Formula for Initiating Toilet Training.

moe-logo.jpg“I’m so done with diapers!” groans a mother as she looks at the high price tag on the jumbo pack of diapers. “Is it time for my child to start potty training?” 

Potty training is a big milestone for children. But how do parents know when to start? Intuition, expectations, common sense and observation play key roles in initiating potty training. 

Step #1-Create a Parent/Child Team

Potty training is a combined effort between parent and child. Some parents may assume that they are in charge, while other parents place the child at the helm. In actuality, potty training is a partnership. Parents provide support, potty training tools, books, and dry clothing; children do the “going.”

Grasping the concept that potty training is a team effort between parent and child, and not a command and control situation, is critical to success. Strict, impatient pursuit of the goal puts undo pressure on the child, resulting in stress, anxiety and in some cases delayed potty training.  

Step#2-Starting early doesn’t ensure quick results

In depth research on intensive potty training has proven that initiating the process early is in fact correlated to extended duration of potty training. Those parents who start training prematurely find that the potty training process lasts longer.  Children must develop bladder and muscle control before they are able to control toileting.

Parents may adhere to this rough timeline of readiness: 15-18 months the child senses that his or her clothes are wet; 18 months the child may urinate on the potty if placed on it; 2- 2 1/2 years the child might alert the parent that he has to go; and 3-4 years the child may have the ability to “hold it” and visit the bathroom alone.   

Step#3-Determine readiness by child’s development

When deciding to begin the potty training process, chronological age may not be the correct indicator for readiness. The parent should look for signs that the child is developmentally ready. This is especially true for babies who were born prematurely and children who are developmentally delayed. 

Some good signs of readiness are: child can sit and walk well, child can stay dry for 2 hours or more, child is interested in doing what big kids or grownups do, child is able to follow and execute simple instructions, and child seems to understand what the potty is for and uses words relating to using the toilet.  

Parents should assess the temperament of the child. Important questions to ask are: is the child able to focus, what is her attention span, does the child frustrate easily, is the child easily angered or discouraged. 

For most children potty training occurs between 2 and 3 years, with the majority of children potty trained by 4. 

Step#4-Go on now, go!

Today is the day! Parents should make sure that the child is in good health, and that the household is calm with no impending turmoil such as a move coming up, a new baby being brought home, or a parent going away on a trip.  

Dress the child in easy to remove clothing like sweat pants with an elastic waist. Snaps, buttons and zippers are difficult for little hands and time consuming to manipulate when the urge arises. To reduce the pressure on the child, allow him to stay in diapers during the early days of potty training. Gradually transition him into underwear for short amounts of time as his dry times become more and more extended.  

After a meal, nap, or when coming in from outdoors are good times to encourage the child to hop on the potty. Parents should be on the look out for indicators of when the child may have the urge to go.  

Accompany the child to the potty and stay with him. The visit to the bathroom should be short and sweet; five minutes is plenty of time. Offer reading material, or use a fun potty training tool or toy to make the five minutes engaging. Important: if the child wants to get off of the potty before five minutes, don’t force him to stay. 

Praise, praise, praise! Little milestones deserve lots of hugs and kisses. It is really something for a little tyke to hop on the potty by herself, pull up her own pants, or make it into the bathroom (even if only to be a little late.) Be kind, patient, sensitive and proud. Don’t scold the child for having accidents, ever.

Top Three Mistakes Parents Make When Dealing with Separation Anxiety

Moms on Edge LogoSaying goodbye is one of the most difficult tasks that people learn in life. Learning to handle separation is an emotionally difficult task that begins in infancy. Too often, parents and caregivers mishandle the child’s transition between them, and the child is left feeling scared and abandoned. “Maybe mommy isn’t ever coming back.”

 

Failing to provide the necessary support that children need, to separate well, may have a negative effect on the child’s future relationships. The parent’s own feelings of anxiety and sadness, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, insensitivity to the child’s emotions, can have a profound effect on a child’s level of separation anxiety.

 

If separating is handled with sensitivity, children develop confidence and independence and feel secure when left in the hands of a loving and competent caregiver.

 

Mistake #1-Ignore the child’s fears-Many parents think that ignoring a child’s anxiety, anger, stress and fear makes separating easier. Mom or dad might believe that springing the separation on the child and sneaking out, like ripping off a band-aid, won’t give the child time to get worked up, tearful and upset. Other parents may not be sensitive to the fact that separating is a big deal, “Why is he so upset, I am just running out for an hour.” Don’t tell the child his or her feelings are insignificant.

 

Solution: Explain to the child calmly, clearly and briefly, what he or she should expect. Use the same ritual before each separation. For example: enter the room, hang the child’s coat, put the snack away, take out a loved toy, give a big hug and kiss, etc. Do not sneak out or use a distraction to duck out of the room. In new situations, parents should allot adequate time to hang around while the child becomes acclimated to his new surroundings. The parent should reassure the child that mommy/daddy is coming back soon and should expect the child to feel some distress. Separating is tough.

 

Mistake #2-Emphasize the fun and excitement of the activity-Disregarding that the child is feeling frightened, and instead focusing on how much fun she is going to have, does not ease separation fears. The child may be confused and not understand why she is being left and wondering if mommy or daddy will ever return. While upset the child is not able to focus on the fun things in store for her while mom is away.

 

Solution: Short absences initially (30-90 minutes) are easier for children. Ensure that the child understands what is happening by using the same description of the situation before each separation. “Mommy is going to have her teeth cleaned, remember we passed the dentist’s office on the drive over here? I will be back shortly to pick you up and then we will go to the park and have our lunch. I know that you feel a little afraid because this is a new place to play and I am leaving. Miss Melanie is really kind and happy to play with you, I like her very much. I love you and I am coming back to pick you up as soon as my teeth are shiny.” Explaining what to expect gives the child a sense of control.

 

Mistake #3-Neglecting to give the reunion its proper consideration-“Grab your coat, let’s get in the car, we are late!”…is not a proper hello after being separated from a child. Having a conversation with the caregiver before acknowledging the child, is also a mistake.

 

Solution: Handling the reunion between parent and child with sensitivity is just as important as the goodbye. The child is relieved that the parent has returned as promised. Develop a warm and loving routine used for returns. Positive relationship development relies on reuniting with joy and happiness. Using a special routine honors the loving bond between parent and child.

 

How to Survive the Supermarket with Kids in Tow

Moms on Edge Logo“Before kids I used to happily peruse the supermarket aisles, slowly selecting interesting new items, scrutinizing labels and creating a few evening meals in my head as I shopped. Now I have two small kids and my creative shopping days are over. I run through the store and I am lucky if I get half of the essentials that I need to get through the week,” writes a frustrated mom when asked about her biggest daily stressors. 

With small children in tow, visits to the supermarket can be unproductive and filled with anxiety. An extra twenty minutes of indecision, waiting at the deli, or traveling unneeded aisles, is just enough time for kids to lose their marbles and cause the parent to flee the store, shopping incomplete. Supermarket shopping must get done, and bringing the children, for the majority of parents, is the only viable option. 

Survival Tips 

  • Create a weekly menu.

On Sunday, find 7 simple dinner recipes made with basic, healthy ingredients. Include an easy lunch menu for 7 days and then decide breakfast choices for the week.  The Food Network website yields hundreds of tasty, easy to prepare meal ideas like beef stroganoff and tacos. Writing a weekly menu will relieve the stress that families feel each evening when deciding what’s for dinner, leaving more time and energy for family time. 

  • Make a list.

Using the weekly menu, make a shopping list on the front of a plain envelope (reason for envelope in next tip) of all of the items needed to prepare the week’s breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. The food list complete, go through the house and add to the list, beverages, paper, cleaning, and bath and beauty products running low. A pad of paper and pen in an accessible area lets family members jot down items they need. 

  • Study the floor plan of the grocery store.

It is really helpful to know the layout of the grocery store when creating a grocery list because the list can be made to correlate to the store. For example, if the deli is the first place passed and the dairy is next and then meat, deli items should be grouped at the top of the list followed by all of the dairy items and then meat. Although seemingly obsessive-compulsive, correlating the list to the store layout eliminates doubling back and can save enormous amounts of time.  

  • Clip coupons.

After the list is created, find coupons that match items on the list. Only use coupons for those items regularly used, or those items the family might enjoy trying. Put the coupons needed for the current shopping list into the envelope with the grocery list printed on it. Place a check next to those items on the list that have a coupon. Don’t add extra items to the list just to use a coupon. Compare prices, sometimes another brand might be cheaper than the brand with the coupon. 

Do be creative with the weekly menu to incorporate coupons, for example make chicken instead of pork chops if there is a chicken coupon. Don’t compromise on health to use a coupon; don’t buy a 10% juice beverage with a coupon instead of 100% juice without a coupon or settle for high sugar cereal with a coupon in place of a healthy cereal without.  

  • Choose off-peak hours.

It is much more efficient and pleasant to schedule supermarket visits when the store is empty. Mornings, after people are at work and older children are in school, are quiet in grocery stores and lines are short or non-existent. Later evening for working parents, or early mornings on weekends are typically light. Take note when visiting or just call and ask a store manager, “When is the store is at its most quiet?” Schedule visits during off-peak hours. Workers are much more pleasant and helpful on a whole when not facing hoards of impatient customers. 

  • Hug the perimeter.

The healthiest items in the supermarket are found along the perimeter of the store. Fresh produce, meats and seafood, and the dairy cases all sit along the outer edges. The majority of cart time should be spent along the perimeter. Fresh foods are, more often than not, healthier than the ready-to-eat foods found in the middle aisles. The amount of sodium and fat added to fresh foods while cooking is up to the cook, not the manufacturer.  

  • Ask for help and bring a pen.

Supermarket workers are knowledgeable and generally willing to help. Instead of wandering the aisles in search of a product, ask. Staff will often go out of their way to locate a hard to find item. The butcher can slice cuts of meat and chicken exactly as recipes call for, saving prep time at home. It is perfectly reasonable and a good use of time to alert the butcher or deli clerk, and shop while they are preparing the order.  

Bring a pen and cross items off of the list as you put them in the cart, or you will waste time checking and rechecking your list. Finally, accept the bagger’s offer to bring bundles to the car. Let the bagger push the cart, load the groceries into the car, and return the cart. The parent can keep the kids safe in the parking lot and buckle car seats and seat belts. Safer and a time saver – and baggers often like to get out of the store.