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Potty Training a Child in Daycare Takes Consistency, Communication

Parents and Providers Should Partner Together For Success

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Advanced Potty Training
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Potty training a child who attends daycare or is under the occasional care of a caregiver other than a parent requires a team effort. Often, it is the very fact that a child is around other kids in underwear in a care setting that serves to motivate a young child to use the potty.

Parents and providers should discuss and agree on the planned potty training process. A consistent approach and common encouragement techniques can minimize confusion of a child during this time, and help to set the environment for a successful transition to becoming a big kid!

What should parents and providers discuss to help ensure a successful toilet training experience?

  • Potty chair or no potty chair. Some children potty train using a kid-sized toilet. Others prefer to sit on the regular toilet with a potty seat on top. Parents should be sensitive to the needs of a child care provider, who is most likely watching other kids as well and who must keep hygiene, cleanliness and practicality as considerations to the training process as well. While it is not insurmountable to have different systems, having the same rules and same equipment certainly can be helpful for a child’s mastery of this process. Parents may even consider purchasing a potty chair (if the provider agrees this is a good idea) for their child’s use while in care that is identical to the one being used at home.


  • Diapers vs. pull-ups vs. underwear. Opinions are varied about when and how long to use each of the above. Some parents swear by pull-ups, especially the ones that can be opened on the sides. Others prefer to bypass pull-ups altogether, and make the sole incentive as graduating from diapers into underwear. The argument is not which way is better; it is getting agreement on which route to take.


  • What should a child in potty training wear at naptime? Even a mostly-trained child may have accidents at naptime. Opinions vary as to whether a child should have a diaper or pull-up on at naptime, or whether accidents should be allowed to happen to encourage a child to “feel” the outcome. Of course, providers may not be as patient for having to sanitize mats and send home blankets and pillows on a routine basis due to accidents occurring.


  • Dressing in practical clothing is a must. Providers have lamented that parents sometimes do not take into consideration that a child in a bodysuit and overalls—no matter how adorable they make look—is incorrectly clothed for potty training. And, many a parent has been alarmed to see their child running around in a long shirt and underwear during these toilet training days while in daycare. The compromise, of course, is practical clothing that can be quickly and easily—and the key word here is QUICKLY—pulled down by a child independently in time to avoid an accident. Having hassle-free clothing is a key to a child’s self-confidence and independence during this process. And, parents, don’t forget! During this training time, please provide the caregiver with at least two sets of extra clothing and preferably a full package of underwear. Initially, a child may start to wet underwear on many occasions, and need to be changed.


  • Rewards and consequences. This is a conversation that absolutely should occur so as to not confuse a child and cause in regression in the toilet training process. How is a child rewarded for going potty? Is a reward applied if a child tries? Is a diaper put back on if a child refuses? How are accidents handled? One provider praised a considerate mom for buying a huge supply of stickers, and for rewarding all the kids with one every time her child used the potty. Talk about positive peer reinforcement! The provider was more than happy to dole out the stickers, and was thankful that the parent understood that was an expense a provider could not do for every child.


  • Do not expect a provider to add housekeeping chores in the schedule. In-home providers lament that parents sometimes believe that a caregiver should launder a child’s clothing when accidents occur or other not-so-desirable tasks during a child's potty training transition. Providers have a full day planned, and while they are more than happy to assist with potty training, reasonable expectations about extra effort should be made and clear on both sides.


  • Consider the timing. In general, don't begin toilet training a child right after a big change such moving, divorce or remarriage, birth of a new sibling, a change in caregivers or daycare arrangements, or before a big holiday or event. Also, be sure you're comfortable with sticking with a schedule and routine once training begins.


  • Celebrate together! A child who becomes toilet training is a major achievement both for the child as well as the caregiver team! A great partnership and unified goals, consistency and open communication will help to achieve the desired results.
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