Development FAQ: 24+ months – Potty Training

When we go out during potty training, do you advise using pull-up nappies?

  • No – it’s tempting to use these because they are similar to pants but to your child they will seem like a nappy again. It will confuse him and potty training will take much longer. The absorbency of the pull-ups means your child will be less aware of when he is wet.
  • Try to plan potty training when you can just be at home. It seems restricting but one week staying home near the potty will ensure you and your child succeed and you can then go out and about as normal, taking the potty with you or using the loo wherever you go.
  • During the fist few days at home put your child in a short t-shirt and into pants which can easily be pulled up and down. Tracksuit bottoms and skirts for girls care ideal clothing to wear in the early days. Avoid poppers, buttons or braces. And remember that once you give up the nappy, don’t go back as this is the main reason for potty training failing.

Development FAQ: 24+ months – Potty Training

My son is nearly three and has been using the big toilet for quite a while now. I’ve been trying to get him to stand up and wee but he only wants to do it sitting down. What can I do?

  • You might have more success if daddy shows him how this is done. If he’s been watching only you he could be confused. When he’s with other boys at nursery school or during visits, encourage him to watch them wee standing up and make a big fuss of him being grown up.
  • You might need to put a small step by the loo so he can reach and aim properly. Hold him carefully under the arms until he learns to balance on his own.
  • A trick that has worked for me is getting boys to try and pee into a disposable plastic cup over the loo. This helps them get used to it. Encouraging him to make a nice splashing noise can help too.
  • Ask daddy to show him how to hold his willy up and aim, then how to shake the drips off afterwards.

Development FAQ: 24+ months – Potty Training

My son was quickly and easily potty trained at 2 years and 8 months. I’d like to get him out of nappies at night-time but they seem to be sodden in the morning when he gets up. How long will this go on for?

  • It sounds as if he might be drinking too much in the evening. Try to give him his biggest drink before 6pm with a small drink before bedtime if needed, so he can have a final wee before going to bed.
  • If he still has a lunchtime sleep, keep him in nappies until you find they are consistently dry for two weeks. Tackle this first.
  • I usually wait until a child is at least three years old before removing a nappy at night-time. If you find his nappy is dry or slightly damp in the mornings for a few weeks you can try to abandon them. You might find he starts to wake in the night needing a wee. You can leave the potty in his room and put in a very dim night-light so he can get to out of bed and use the potty by himself. Wait until he’s at least three before you do this as it could lead to disturbed sleep and night wakings.

Development FAQ: 24+ months – Potty Training

My daughter is two and a half and is showing all the signs of being ready to potty train. I’m very keen to do it. I work three days a week and my mother looks after Emily. I have heard my mother telling Emily how horrid and disgusting her dirty nappies are and I think Emily has become anxious now as she often cries when she has done a poo.

Your mother’s generation tended to potty train much sooner than your generation. This was because terry nappies were much more of an ordeal to clean that our modern, disposable nappies. Possibly your mum thinks Emily should have been out of nappies long ago and is registering her disapproval with your daughter. I think it’s very important to avoid anxiety about pooing as it will make potty training much more difficult and could even lead to long-term problems. Try and explain this to your mother and ask her to stop using words like ‘horrible’ and ‘disgusting’. Get her involved with helping you follow my programme. If you begin training on the first day you are home, you would have four good days at it before you have to go to work and the majority of the training would be done. Many mums who leave it until their child is older find it can take just a few days.

Development FAQ: 24+ months – Potty Training

My son is 2 years and 3 months and seems ready to potty train. I’m expecting a new baby in a few weeks’ time. Should I try to potty train before the baby arrives?

The arrival of a new baby is one of the biggest upheavals possible in a toddler’s life and it could affect his behaviour in any number of ways. I would advise you forget about potty training for a little while and focus on helping your son adjust to his new brother or sister. It would be worse for him to be trained now and then possibly regress and need nappies again. This would feel like a failure to him and would make training later a lot harder. When you feel things have settled down at home then you can begin in earnest. In the meantime, you can keep the potty around and encourage him to sit on it in the morning before he gets dressed and again in the evening before his bath. Don’t force the issue though, let him take the lead.

Development FAQ: 12-18 months – Entertaining and Educating your Toddler

My 14-month-old wants to play with pens and pencils.

Is it safe to let my 14-month-old have pencils to draw with? My husband gave her one and now she screams every time she sees either of us using a pen. She still puts lots of things in her mouth, so what would be the best thing to give her?

Now that your toddler has discovered how to make marks on paper, she will enjoy drawing sessions. Sit with her at a table and provide a large sheet of paper. This can be taped to the table to keep the scribbles on the paper and also prevent frustration if it moves.

Buying child-friendly chubby crayons, pencils and felt-tips will help your daughter with grip, but there is no reason why she cannot use ordinary pencils and crayons if that is all you have to hand. By fourteen months, she will be able to hold a chubby crayon in her hand (not yet in the conventional grasp) and make a mark on the paper; you can show her how to rub it back and forth. As she begins to explore the pencils and crayons, some are bound to find their way into her mouth. Remove them gently but firmly, and tell her that pencils are for drawing with and not for putting in our mouths. If she persists, then put the activity away for another day.

Give her three or four colours of crayons and felt-tips to begin with. Show her how to pull the caps from pens, and also how to replace them when she has finished with one colour. It is a matter of preference as to whether you draw pictures for your child or not; some educationalists believe a child should develop portraying an object or scene in their own time. Small children can become very passive about drawing if they are used to an adult drawing for them, or frustrated that their efforts can’t match up to an adults. The main thing is to let your child explore with a variety of drawing materials, and for both of you to enjoy the experience. Generally children will not draw something recognisable until they are three years old, but observing their growing skills is a fascinating part of their development.

Development FAQ: 12-18 months – Entertaining and Educating your Toddler

We want our son to grow up to be bilingual.

We wish our son to grow up to be bilingual. He is now 15 months and beginning to speak. My husband is Italian but also speaks excellent English. From Louis’ birth, we have each tried to speak our own language to him, but as my husband is away from home all day, often not returning until late, Louis hears far more English than Italian. Will this affect his learning of two languages? We visit Italy once or twice a year and my aim is for Louis to be able to communicate easily with his grandparents, who speak no English.

Growing up to be bilingual is a great asset for any child. Most experts agree that the best way for this to happen naturally is to immerse the child in both languages from an early age. But this is not always possible, and in most households a child’s first language is likely to be the one he hears more frequently, usually the mother’s. In addition, you and your husband probably converse in English, so Louis is more likely to speak more English than Italian in the next few months.

Your husband may not spend as much time with Louis as you do, but make sure when he is with him, that he always speaks to him in Italian. Your husband may find that Louis understands Italian, but as he begins to speak he will answer in English. This is quite common amongst bilingual children. Often when they visit the country of their second language they begin to speak quite naturally, as if they realise that this is the only way to be understood.

Make sure you have plenty of Italian books for Louis to share with his father and buy some CDs of Italian nursery songs for him to enjoy. The more he hears both languages, the more likely he will be to pick them up spontaneously. As a final thought, if you are looking for some help with Louis, think about employing an Italian au pair or babysitter, which would help reinforce what he is learning from his father.

Development FAQ: 12-18 months – Entertaining and Educating your Toddler

It is hard to get my son interested in books.

I am aware of how important it is to read books to my son Sam, who is 16mths. The problem is that, after the first page or two, he shows no interest, wriggles off my lap and starts to play with something else. We have plenty of board books around, but I rarely see him pick one up. I would love books to be part of our day, but am I expecting too much too soon?

Sharing books with small children is a habit to be encouraged, but all too often toddlers will have different ideas. Learning that books are fun can take a while.

Making Sam look at books will just put him off, but even the shortest time with a book on a daily basis will pay off. Often the time between bath and bed is a good slot, or some parents prefer to have a short session in the early morning sharing a book in their bed. In time, Sam will get used to the idea and begin to look forward to story time.

When looking for a book to interest Sam, choose one with bright, clear pictures. Photo and object books have their place on his shelf, but you could now begin to look for books with a simple story line. Toddlers often enjoy rhyming text as they can identify with the rhythm, even if they do not understand every word. Look for simple stories that might interest him. Many small boys love anything to do with tractors, diggers, farms or building sites, or stories of everyday activities that they can relate to. If you have difficulty choosing, parenting magazines often carry book reviews. Or visit your local library, where you can try out different styles and authors without the expense.

Don’t expect to get through a whole storybook in the first sitting, but try to engage Sam’s interest by asking questions such as ” Do you see the digger?” or “Can you point to the dog?” This helps him to actively share in the experience, rather than just having to sit and listen. Another tip is, don’t feel that you have to read every word on each page. Use words he can understand now, or make up your own text as you look at the pictures together. The key is to engage his attention for a short spell each day as he begins to learn how books work and how enjoyable they can be.

There are plenty of interactive books on the market, with tabs and flaps, textures and dials. These may be a more fragile than sturdy board books, but can still be shared together. If he does pull a tab off, perhaps because he isn’t yet dexterous enough, don’t scold him but let him watch while you mend it. Showing him how to respect books is all part of the learning process. Keep these books on a shelf that can only be reached by you. Also, teach Sam how to put his sturdier books back on a low shelf when tidying up, rather than putting them in a toy box.

Sam will also learn by your example. If he sees his parents enjoying books, he is more likely to catch the “bug” himself. Keep a book beside your bed and let him see you enjoying a magazine or a newspaper. Make use of your local library. Most have story sessions suitable for his age and he will be allowed to borrow books as well. Making a weekly visit will become an enjoyable outing for both of you.

Encouraging Sam to enjoy books is worth the effort. Giving him a love of books now will help him later at school with English, spelling, story writing and research. Statistics show that some boys can be more reluctant to read than girls, so helping them early on does pay off. We live in a technical age, but books still have a huge influence on us.

Development FAQ: 12-18 months – Tantrums

Can the terrible twos begin early? My 16mth old son has begun to have tantrums already.

Can the “terrible twos” begin early? My 16-month-old son was very easy as a baby, but he seems to have changed overnight. There are times when I have to say “no” to him, as he wants to get into everything or climb on things that will fall over. He reacts by throwing a tantrum and seems completely out of control. What is the best way to deal with this behaviour? I feel as though I have to watch him constantly, whereas a few months ago he was content to sit and play on his own with his toys.

A few months are a long time in the life of a toddler. Before he could walk, your little boy had no option but to sit and play with toys, but now that he is mobile, the whole world has opened up and he wants to explore it.

If you have not done so already, remove any fragile or dangerous pieces of furniture, such as glass-topped coffee tables, to areas of the house where he is unable to access them. Some items, such as table lamps, have to remain and your son will need to learn that “no” does mean that some things are off-limits. Removing everything that is potentially harmful is not practical, nor does it prepare children for the wider world, where they must learn to respect the property of others. Decide what behaviour will and will not be allowed in the house, but try to keep the list short so that daily life does not become one long “no”.

Boys of your son’s age have endless physical energy. They can jump, climb and be on the go all the time. Provide for this at home by making a mini-adventure playground that can be tidied up at the end of the day. Use large boxes with open ends to make tunnels, or a blanket over a low table to encourage crawling. Give him old cushions or pillows to jump into. Find a large box at the supermarket and let him climb in and out of it. When he is playing well with these things, give him some praise. If he does begin to clamber on furniture or play with something unsuitable, calmly but firmly say, “No, you may not play with that” and remove him from it. Try to divert him with an alternative. If a tantrum ensues try to ignore it, making sure he cannot hurt himself on anything in his way. His frustration will subside and that is when you might give him a cuddle to help him calm down. Some toddlers respond well to being held during a tantrum, while others find it infuriating, so be guided by your child.

Most early tantrums are caused by frustration and the inability of a child to make their needs known. Hunger, tiredness, over-stimulation and boredom also play a part. Despite the “terrible twos” label, these tantrums can appear well before a second birthday. This period in your toddler’s life can seem like a constant battle, but look at the daily leaps he is making in his development. Build on what he is able to do, give him plenty of active time outside and keep his meals and naps to the usual routine. In this way, you should avoid too many meltdowns during the day. Once a toddler is able to use language and express himself better, this early tantrum stage tends to fade away.

Development FAQ: 12-18 months – Tantrums

Over the past few weeks my 15-month-old daughter has had several tantrums while we are out shopping. I find it so embarrassing to have her kicking and screaming and feel that everyone is looking at me. I have tried to calm her down, but this makes things worse, and it is often not clear what has set her off in the first place. What is the best way to deal with this behaviour?

Tantrums are a normal part of early childhood and most bystanders will be sympathetic despite their stares. Trying to reason with your daughter at this age will just prolong the kicking and screaming, as she will not be able to comprehend what you are saying. Although you will learn what sets her off, and may be able to steer her away from such situations, there will always be a few tantrums that cannot be explained, other than your child has got to a state where she feels unable to cope any more.

Tantrums in babies and small children are often the result of hunger, tiredness or frustration at not making themselves understood. Once you are aware of the warning signs that a tantrum may be imminent, try using a distraction to help to head it off. It is a good idea to try to arrange trips to the supermarket or shops at times of the day when your toddler is not likely to be hungry or tired. Do be aware of how long she is able to cope before she begins to get frustrated and plan your outings accordingly. At your daughter’s age, long shopping trips will bore her and trouble may start. If at all possible, it would be better to leave her at home with a friend or relative and for you to enjoy such a trip alone and in peace. If, however, she does have to accompany you, be prepared by taking a drink and small snack with you, such as a box of raisins. This should help to keep your toddler occupied while you try to finish your shopping as quickly as possible.

Getting to know the best way to handle your toddler when she is kicking and screaming may require trying different approaches. Some toddlers will calm down more quickly if they are held on your lap, from behind. Place your arms around her body and constrain her flailing limbs. It may help if you whisper quietly and calmly into her ear, as she will have to stop screaming to listen to you. If your toddler responds to you in this way, you can use it to help her get over her frustrations more quickly. Once she is calm again, give her a cuddle and then continue with what you were doing.

If you have a toddler who does not like being held, then don’t try to use this method. She may calm down more quickly if you ignore her altogether, but stay nearby to make sure that she does not hurt herself in any way. When she realises that you are not paying her any attention, she may well stop screaming and you can then pick her up and give her a cuddle.

Once you have learned how to handle your daughter’s tantrums in public places, you will not feel so embarrassed by them. Remember that they are part of her continuing development towards independence – and are not a reflection of your parenting skills! Providing she knows that she has your unconditional love, even though she appears not to want it as she kicks and screams, she will gradually learn to handle her frustrations and the tantrums will fade away. If you consult the Features list on the website, you will come across several helpful articles, which go into further detail on this important subject.