parenting q&a

If potty training is driving you potty, you’re battling to wean your tot off the dummy and your child just won’t stay in bed, then sit back, take a deep breath and let Samantha Malkoun and Genevieve Newell of Future Kids come to the rescue


When and how is the best time to wean a tot off of their dummy?

My kids have all been strongly attached to their dummies so I know what a challenge it can be to wean them off. I would suggest making the dummy less and less available to them during the day. There will be tears but remember the three rules: distraction, distraction, distraction. Also, as they get older point out small babies with dummies and explain to them that big kids don’t have dummies – all toddlers want to be considered big kids.


How do you get your child to stay in the bed all night once they ‘ve made the transition from cot to bed?

I try to keep it positive and give lots of praise when they are doing the right thing rather than too much telling off when they don’t. It is natural for them to creep out of bed now and then and come in to you or play with their toys. I would suggest putting them back in quietly and explaining to them that it is not yet time to get up. Try not to talk to them too much though and stay consistent or you will find that they get up more and more regularly. You may need to stay with them a while to settle them down again. There are some great products like a clock that you can set which switches from a picture of moon to a sun – a toddler alarm clock. You can explain to them that they must stay in bed until the sun picture is showing. I think these sorts of things are great because it gives them a sense of responsibility. 


Should you be vigilant about potty training?

Potty training can go one of two ways. It can be a smooth and easy transition with minimal fuss, or it can be an all out war! Some children do it naturally with seemingly no problems and needing almost no assistance, while others have to be bribed, cajoled and coerced, which is an exhausting and frustrating experience. I have had the most success with a more relaxed approach. By success I mean no tears, no tantrums, and a child who is potty trained within a week or so. It is important not to rush this step. Start too early and it is a struggle. The way you react and respond to their early attempts will dictate how your toddler will behave throughout the potty training experience.


How do I know when they’re ready?

Your child will let you know when they are ready to start by telling you when they have been or going to find a quite corner when they need to go. Watch for these cues, and encourage them to use the potty.


Isn’t it important to make it a priority?

Your child may feel ashamed at not being able to do something that you are putting such an emphasis on. They will almost certainly be going through a phase of trying to take control of their environment; saying “no” to you, refusing to eat, refusing to be helped, and generally wanting to do things for themselves. 

Realistically the only things your child has any control over are eating and going to the loo. If you try too hard to control either of these things they will undoubtedly act out and rebel.

So relax, don’t make such a big fuss of it, praise them when they get it right, and walk away from big tantrums. Don’t fight with them about it, trust me, you will not win this one!


Once toddlers are potty trained, how do you stop their nighttime nappies?

It usually takes a little longer for toddlers to be dry through the night. I suggest that once your child has had a dry nappy in the morning for 7 days in a row, then they have it cracked.

Some hints to get you there are to:

* Limit fluid intake before bed

* Make sure they go to the toilet last thing before sleep

* ‘Lift’ them before you or your partner goes to bed. This is a technique which involves you lifting them out of bed, carrying them to the toilet while they are semi asleep and getting them to try to pee. They may or may not go, but if they are consistently wetting their nappy in the night there is a good chance that they will. They will eventually be able to get themselves up to go if they need to.