The ‘Child-Oriented’ Potty Training Method
Toilet training is a skill that every child masters someday or the other and in some way or the other. But, it is the first complex skill that defines a child’s process of learning something new.
There are several ways you can teach your child any skill, as a parent choosing the best method is not always easy.
There are several popular methods to toilet train a child, some of which offers training within a weekend, a day, some even a matter of a couple of hours.
However the methods most recommended by health organisations like American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and NHS,UK are gradual methods of toilet training that allow the child to have the freedom to make decisions which are aided by parents.
In this article we will look at a method most favored by pediatricians all over the world. It is also the basis for American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for Potty training.
Not sure if your child is ready to be toilet trained?
Check out our intuitive quiz on toilet training readiness
What is child oriented toilet training?
T Berry Brazelton,was a pediatrician at the Harvard school of Medicine who proposed a ‘child-oriented’ method of toilet training in 1962.
Since its inception almost 50 years ago it has been adapted and modified by various researchers, pediatricians and parents alike to suit their needs.However the basic concept remains the same.
Brazelton valued self mastery of a child’s achievement as opposed to inopportune training by an adult. A child’s autonomous achievement in one area helps him progress in others.
Brazelton also noted various problems associated with parent- led toilet training methods like chronic constipation due to stool withholding behavior, painful stools and Urinary tract infections.
All these problems could be avoided by following a less aggressive method which led by the child’s development itself.
The main focus of the method is the effect of toilet training on psychological and mental health of the child. Given the exponential rise in mental health issues in children and adolescents these days the value of this method has been appreciated even more.
When can I start toilet training using the ‘Child-Oriented’ method?
The readiness of the child is based on his development in various domains like gross motor, fine motor, language and communication skills, and cognitive development.
There is no set age for this development to occur which varies from one child to
another. The average age of toilet training readiness can occur anywhere between 20 to 28 months, sometimes even later.
How to train a child using Brazelton’s Child-oriented toilet training method?
Toilet training using Brazelton’s Toilet Training method can be done as follows, with each step practised at least for one to two weeks.
1. Introduce a potty chair
After proper assessment of a child’s developmental readiness and parental readiness a potty chair is introduced to the child as his “own special chair”.
The child is actively involved in picking the chair. So you can ask your child to accompany you while picking one and let him or her choose one she likes.
This right away creates a positive attachment with the chair.
Many times a child is too scared to even sit on the chair and by allowing your child to be actively involved in the process of choosing one you can expect good compliance.
The child at this phase does not yet understand the connection between the potty chair and toileting. This connection is slowly and repeatedly established by parents.
2. Sitting with diapers.
Dr. Brazelton suggested phased introduction of this chair into the child’s daily routine and establishing a slow and gradual connection of the chair with toileting.
Initially, the child is encouraged to use the potty chair as a “chair”, allowing him to sit on it fully clothed.
During this period, parents can read to him, give him cookies, crayons, toys to keep him occupied, and most importantly to keep him seated on the potty chair.
It is important that the child is given complete freedom to decide when he can leave without any coercion from parents.
3. Sitting without diapers
The next phase of training should involve asking the child to sit without his diapers.
At this phase make no attempt to catch his urine or stools. Many children feel the stools or urine as their ‘own’ and the act of disposal of this part of them can create anxiety and fear of loss.
4. Creating the association between the potty chair and the act of toileting.
After your child has successfully accepted the above routines and you can start including the chair while changing his soiled diapers.
Dr. Brazelton suggested using the chair as a changing station, dropping the diapers under the chair to establish the connection between the potty chair and toileting.
As the child demonstrates some understanding and compliance with using the chair he can gradually be encouraged to use the chair for its intended purpose.
5. Go bare bottoms
Diapers and pants are removed for short periods of time and the child is encouraged to use the potty chair if wishes to potty. Gentle reminders can be used to prompt the child without any strong coercion.
When the child is able to use the potty chair on his own, it should be marked as a major accomplishment and celebrated.
Key points to remember while using this method:
Positive reinforcement is rewarding the child by means of praise and affection when he accomplishes the required goals. It also involves ignoring setbacks. It is important to shower your child with praises and reinforcements consistently when he succeeds.
Also, make sure you don’t make a big hue and cry about his failed attempts. There is always a new day and plenty of opportunities to teach.
Your child is in charge
Remember that the child holds the reins and is the decision-maker with a little support and direction from parents. This method progresses with your child’s developmental progress. So no need to hurry or worry.
Modify as you go
This method is more of a blueprint on which you can build your own system with some tweaks. Every child is different and so are their needs. So you are free to tweak the method as per your child’s needs.
How successful is the method?
This method was studied by the author himself over a period of 10 years. 1,170 children around the age of 2 years were trained using this method and found that daytime training was achieved in 80.7% of the children between 2 and 2.5 years of age and nighttime continence was achieved by 33.3 months.
Pros and Cons
- Incorporates the method of gentle parenting.
- Less stressful for you and your little one as it is a gradual process.
- Avoids the power struggle.
- Gives the child a sense of self-accomplishment which helps him build a strong sense of self-confidence. This is especially helpful for him to embark on other tasks.
- Forms part of a comprehensive learning technique that becomes the basis for learning any future skills.
- Takes longer in comparison to intensive training techniques.
- Requires prolonged motivation from parents to achieve the results.