Whether you call it potty training, toilet training, or toilet learning, teaching a child to use the toilet instead of diapers is a big task for both the parents and one that can cause a lot of frustration if you aren’t prepared ahead of time. MomRN recently shared several tips for potty training success on Great Day Green Country (Fox 23, Tulsa).
First, you should have plenty of patience and time! Some kids learn quickly, others need a long time to learn, so don’t rush it! They will learn eventually, trust me!
When to start potty training
Most kids are developmentally ready to start training somewhere between 22 and 30 months of age. Every child is different though so look for these signs that your child is ready to start the process:
- Your child is interested in using the potty or in wearing underwear
- Your child is able to tell you when she’s about to pee or poop, or shows signs that she is going
- Your child wants to be changed right after going in his diaper
- Your child is able to stay dry for at least 2 hours at a time
- Your child is able to walk to the bathroom on her own, pull her pants down and sit on a potty chair or climb up on a toilet
Even before a child is developmentally ready to start, you can do some pre-training by talking about using the potty as you are changing a diaper. Kids learn best by example, so your toddler can watch you or the other parent or an older sibling use the potty. Pretending to have a doll go potty is also a great way to introduce the concept.
A potty chair that sits on the floor is ideal, so your child can easily sit on it without assistance. If you prefer to use a potty seat that fits on top of a regular toilet seat, make sure you have a step stool to help them climb up and down and to rest their feet on, as it will help your child feel more secure and comfortable. There are some great potty training books and DVDs you can share with your child to help him learn. I used Toilet Training in Less Than a Day by Drs. Nathan Azrin and Richard M. Foxx and found it very helpful when my oldest child was a toddler. I did not follow it exactly and chose to spread out the process longer than a day, but I used many of their suggestions and the process went pretty smoothly, so I used it again for my youngest child. We also had a potty training video called It’s Potty Time by Learning Through Entertainment, Inc and Duke University Medical Center. It had fun songs and skits about potty training and my kids and the children in my daycare loved it. It is available on DVD now and I highly recommend it.
“Big Boy” or “Big Girl” underwear with your child’s favorite cartoon characters or other fun designs can make potty training more appealing. Cheerios can be used as “targets” for little boys to help them learn to aim and to make potty training fun. There are also flushable targets you can buy in bright colors and fun shapes. Stickers or other small rewards can be used to encourage your child to go to the potty. A doll that drinks a bottle and “wets” can also help teach your child.
When to wait or stop the training process
If you and/or your child are getting too frustrated or upset over the potty training process, you may need to put it on hold and wait a few weeks, then try again. Otherwise it could become a big control issue or battle of wills and may take much longer for your child to become potty trained. It’s also not a good idea to start potty training during a stressful time in your child’s life, such as a move, divorce, or the birth of a sibling. It’s better to wait until things are more stable. And setbacks and regression are common if stressful events occur after a child has been potty trained. Be patient and understanding if that occurs. If you are concerned about your child’s potty training problems, consult with your pediatrician or family doctor.Pin It
Is the “Middle Kid Syndrome” really a problem? Not if we apply the research.
Have more than two kids? Then I’m betting you’ve heard a few of these:
“It’s like I’m stuck in the middle.”
“But I don’t want to do things like my sister.”
“I want my own stuff not these hand me downs.”
“My coach always asks why I can’t play like my brother.”
As soon as my third son was born I became very aware of the so-called “Middle Kid Syndrome.” It wasn’t hard…everyone warned me with those: “Watch out …you have a middle one now.” So I read all those birth order books and tuned into those experts warning us of the dangers of being “sandwiched in between.” I quickly learned to beware: middle kids get a bad rap. And research even proves it.
A longitudinal study from Norway involving hundreds of men found that their elder sibling is smarter by an average of 3 points IQ which can be quite significant on those SATs.
But the lead had nothing to do with genetics!
It turns out if the first born dies, the second sib takes over that IQ lead! So the reason for that IQ boost? We talk to our oldest child more, which gives them a huge edge in language development.
Research also shows (Shhhhh!) that the first born is more favored by their parents and the middle kid realizes that favoritism.
Then there’s the problem of teachers and coaches comparing the middle child unfairly to their older sibling (“Your older brother read when he was three.” “Your sister could sing in tune.”).
What’s more, they have to endure that icky label: “Oh, you’re the ‘middle’ kid.” And that isn’t enough this is the kid that gets far too many hand-me-downs. If we’re not careful this glorious child can get lost in the shuffle of their own families.
Hidden Benefits of Being “Stuck in the middle!”
It seems these middle children also learn valuable skills and perspective because of their unique position in the family. (We just may have to remind them that there are benefits, but there are a few). Studies find these benefits to being stuck in the middle that may be overlooked:
- Middle kids are generally more creative and flexible because they are trying to be different from their elder and younger sibling.
- They are also often more relaxed, independent, diplomatic, resourceful, as well as more balanced and generous than their other siblings.
- They can make great negotiators and have great people skills if we let them forge their own way.
7 Common “Middle Kid” Problems & Solutions
When the Today show asked me to report about the supposed “Middle Kid Syndrome,” I jumped at the opportunity. I reviewed all the research on middle children, but also asked a number of “ middle” moms and kids (including my own) for their take on the issue. And chime in they did! Here are seven common problems that both researchers warn us of and middle kids complain about from being sandwiched in between and parenting solutions for each hot-button issue.
No. 1. Feel less favored
Not only do middle kids pick up on which sibling is the parental favorite, but researchers (after viewing videos of parent-child interaction) confirm it.
Sixty-five percent of mothers and 70 percent of dads exhibited a preference for one child–in most cases, the older one.
The middle kid pays the price. So, though we may think we treat our kids equally, research shows otherwise.
Be honest. Do your eyes light up with the same intensity for each of your children? That’s your test.
No. 2. Overlooked and skimped on attention
The first child is always the big deal. The last is “our baby.” The poor middle kid feels overlooked. As a result research says they can become rebellious or our little “people pleasers” to make up for what they feel is the missed attention.
- Make a big deal over their trophy (even if the eldest has one, too).
- Jump for joy that you get to go to the Christmas Pageant (again!)
- Make special time so your middle kid doesn’t feel she’s overlooked. Each child deserves his own special “firsts.”
- Keep that baby book open and ready to jot down those “firsts.”
No. 3. Hate to be compared
One of the biggest complaints of middle children is that they say they are always compared to their older sibling. “Your older brother could do that when he was three.” “Your sister liked piano.”
- No fair! Tell Aunt Harriet to bite her tongue.
- Your cardinal parenting rule is: Never compare.
No. 4. Hide true feelings
Middle kids learn to not reveal their feelings. After all, the elder sibling is usually more verbal and gets our ears. So the second child often keeps things to himself. So….
- Draw your middle one out.
- Keep the communication open.
- Ask how he’s feeling.
- And make the older one listen to the middle child’s ideas.
No. 5. Tired of playing referee
This breed is most often to be the diplomat in the family. They smooth things over and tote the family peace pipe because they hate conflicts and anger. They become fabulous little negotiators and grow up to have wonderful people skills.
But right now this kid shouldn’t have to take on the role of United Nations in his own home.
- Watch your middle child’s inclination to always smooth things over, and give in to the elder or younger siblings just to keep the peace. They can be taken advantage of and causes resentment as well as just not being fair.
No. 6. Always get the hand-me-downs!
- Okay, every once in a while is fine, but watch those: “But the coat is perfectly fine.” Or: “Your sister never played with the doll. It’s brand new.”
No. 7. Forced to follow siblings footsteps
- Let your middle kid march to his own drum and not have to hang onto the coat tails of an older sibling. Tap into your middle’s child true potential and emphasize each child’s unique strengths and true potential. These kids are usually more creative and individualistic. Draw out their natural nature.
- Sure, how our kids turn out does have a lot to do with genetics and pre-disposed temperament. But it also has to do with how they are treated by us as well as the experiences they have with their siblings. Let’s tune in a little closer to this now – there are peacekeepers with great people skills who are not afraid to march to their own drum.
P.S. As a mom of a middle kid let me assure you, they turn out not only fine, but plain wonderful.
Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research . The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at amazon.com.Pin It
Last Christmas it was apparent that our then-9-year-old son still believed in Santa. I wondered if it could still be the case, but he was completely into our usual tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa. And at bedtime he once again set up his iPod in the family room – video running – to try to catch Santa coming down the chimney! Now I thought this was cute, but my husband was kind of done with the whole Santa-thing (we call him Scrooge) since, admittedly, pulling off the whole illusion is a lot of work:
- Keeping the presents hidden until Christmas
- Segregating the Santa-designated wrapping paper (don’t want to have to explain why we have the same paper and gift bags as Santa!)
- Getting the presents wrapped surreptitiously, and sneaking them under the tree after kiddo bedtime…while trying to avoid the “candid camera.” Thankfully the battery on his iPod proved not to last that long!
And, of course, there was the time a couple years ago when we first left carrots outside for the reindeer. Since it’s important to show that the reindeer enjoyed these treats (and we all know reindeer are messy eaters!) it was incumbent upon me to gather up the carrots strewn on the back patio and chew up several so that only a few carrot bits would be left behind. But who knew that the carrots would freeze so quickly out back? Pulling them off the frozen stone patio was hard enough…but chewing bits of frozen carrot was not appetizing! Since that year I’ve made sure to have extra carrots on hand to use as replacements for the orange icicles. So, the Santa-thing is a lot of work. But clearly I love it all!
As Elliott approached 10 in the spring I wondered how much longer this Christmas/holiday magic could last. But I didn’t have long to wait for an answer. Easter was my undoing. With a later Spring Break, our family was only getting back home the night of Easter Bunny’s visit. Despite my best intentions, I didn’t manage to do the Easter basket shopping before our vacation. So, while away, I texted a shopping list to our trusty local college student, Emily, part-time nanny and family helper extraordinaire, and told her where in the house to hide the loot. The whole process worked perfectly with Mom Bunny putting together a basket during the wee hours of Easter Sunday morning. That is until Elliott was playing a game on my phone and happened to see my Easter text exchanges with Emily.
The jig was up! I learned what had transpired through a series of very angry but hilarious post-it notes left outside my study where I was doing some work that evening. These included some angry drawings and a terse message:
“Just found out you are the Easter Bunny. I suppose this means Santa and the Toothfairy aren’t real either. You’ve been lying to me my whole life!”
What’s a parent to do?
Well this seemed to call for a good heart-to-heart conversation, so I sat down on his bed and – through tears on both sides - I had to admit that we really had been lying to him all these years. But as I said to Elliott, it didn’t seem like a lie when he was little…and there’s really a whole lot of love behind these particular parent lies when you think about it – what with all that we do to make the magic real for the little ones. Surprisingly, my 10-year old boy agreed with this perspective and seemed comforted to a degree. And then I learned just how strong and enduring is the will of children to believe. “Mom, can we just pretend this never happened?” he asked. “Of course,” I said. So we haven’t discussed it since. And as we get nearer to Christmas Eve, I know I need to have cookies and carrots in stock once again.Pin It
I’m a mom and I’m pissed off. Not a bit concerned. Not even angry. I’m pissed off as in, ‘I have a flame thrower and I’m not afraid to use it’ pissed off. Why? Because child safety is about as big a mom issue as you can get, and yet children keep drowning and no one is talking about it. We all know ‘stop, drop and roll’, but did you know that drowning kills more children in the U.S. every year than fire and gun accidents combined? If that didn’t get your attention, how about drowning kills as many 1-4 year olds as fire, transportation accidents and accidental suffocation/strangulation combined. When it comes to how to keep children safe, if we don’t start talking about water safety, we simply aren’t keeping our children safe.
It will take you two minutes to read this blog. It only takes two minutes to drown, two inches of water to drown, and in that time two children will drown, because one child drowns every minute. IF we had accurate statistics (and don’t get me started on that), I could state without qualifiers that drowning is as big a killer of children as malaria, one of the ‘top three’ killers according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But noooo, 59% of WHO members don’t even report drowning deaths. As a mom, can you imagine your child’s life being considered so insignificant that it doesn’t even count? That pisses me off.
Don’t worry though, I have enough statistics to (hopefully) make you as pissed off as I am.
- Children under 5 have the highest drowning mortality rates worldwide *
- Drowning is responsible for killing more children ages 1-4 in the U.S. than any other cause except birth defects. Two is the most dangerous year.
- For every child that drowns in the U.S., another five almost drown and more than 50% of those children require further care. Permanent brain damage starts to occur within one minute.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-14 in virtually every high-income country, but it is truly a global epidemic and a global mom issue.
- 96% of drowning deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
- Most children drown before age 4. 2 is the most dangerous year.
- In Asia, where 2/3 of the world’s children live, drowning is responsible for almost one out of every five deaths from all causes for children ages 1-18.
As for the total number of children who drown every year? Officially it’s around 409,000, but we know that 59% of WHO countries don’t capture drowning deaths, so most experts estimate the number is at least double or triple that.
The great news? Drowning is preventable.
So what can you do?
First and foremost, teach your child about water safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to begin swimming lessons for kids as young as one. But don’t just stop at swim lessons, talk to them about water safety at all ages. Make it positive, repetitive and age-appropriate. You don’t want to scare them, you want to teach them, just like you teach your children to wash their hands and cross the street safely. SafeKids has some great advice.
Second, make your environment safe. The CDC has some great tips.
Third, get pissed off. Let’s make this a mom issue, because keeping children safe is what we do. If I’ve convinced you, just drop me a note at email@example.com or leave a comment. Let’s start talking about it.
* (except in Canada and New Zealand where it’s adult males)Pin It
Regardless of where we live, or the age of our children, at some point, they are going to be exposed to, or hear about drugs.
- Unless we take the time to help our children sort through all the messages they are receiving, what they think about drugs can end up being far from the truth.
- We need to understand what drugs can do and what drugs are out there in front of our children.
- We must start talking to our children when they are young, preschool age. We can’t think about conversations about drugs as a one-time event with our children. It must be an ongoing conversation.
When we talk we need to…
- Be open and do not exaggerate.
- Look at your child in the eye when you talk.
- Not interrupt or preach when your child is talking or asking questions. Listen at least as much as you talk.
- Assure them that you love them and want them to be healthy and have a happy life.
Use everyday situations to start conversations about drugs. Things you see on TV, hear on the radio in music, see in movies or things their friends might say and do. Even when you give young children medicine for a cold, it is a good opportunity to talk about drugs.
Role play. Act out situations that your child might encounter concerning drugs, and don’t forget prescription drugs. Now I know this can be tricky so we’re going to spend a little more time on how to discuss the “use vs. abuse of legal drugs” in another post later on. But for now, see if you can come up with several real-life examples where you could see your child encountering drugs and try to practice more than one way they could handle each situation.
Know your children’s friends and their parents. Know what they are doing and where they are going. Be involved in their lives and support them in their activities.
Keep your conversations age appropriate. Kids have a hard time understanding “cancer when you are older.” Stick to things they can relate to. “Drugs make it hard for you to play baseball because you can’t think straight or run fast.”
Just because you talk to your child about drugs, doesn’t mean they are more likely to take drugs. So…get talking.
Spend time doing things together as a family and one-on-one. Shared experiences provide non-threatening opportunities for communication, building trust and strengthening relationships.
If your child asks if you ever did drugs, what do you say?
Focus your response on your child and what has prompted them to ask. Most likely it is because they have been faced with a situation involving drugs. You then have a few options.
- If you say “no” your child might argue, “then how do you know they are bad”? Assure them that you don’t always have to try something to know it is bad. Such as grabbing a saw while it is running. You don’t need to touch it to know it will cut you. Share experiences when you said “no”, and the positive consequences that came as a result.
- If you say “yes”, that doesn’t mean you have to tell your kids everything. The most important thing, if you are going to say “yes” is to assure your children that it was a VERY BIG MISTAKE and you wish you had never done it. Tell them about the negative consequences so they understand it was not a good choice.
There is no way around it. If we want to arm our children with the tools they need to “just say no”, we have to have start the conversations when they are young, and have them often.Pin It