With most people having at least some time off work, Christmas (or Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, or simply “the holiday break”) may seem like the perfect time to get on with potty training, but here are 5 things to consider before making your decision.
Potty training is a major developmental milestone of childhood and your child needs your support to achieve it.
Whenever you decide its the right time to potty train (if you’re not sure – try this quiz), you will need to teach your child all the steps involved, from communicating to you that they need to go, to getting them to the right place, supporting them to undress, use the potty or toilet, dress and wash hands.
With so many skills involved in potty training, you can be sure most children will need some help to perfect them.
At Christmas, you are likely to be at home and have a few days to spare, so is this the right time to potty train?
I always recommend setting aside at least 2-3 days at the beginning of the process to give your child what they need.
If you have already started potty training and it’s going quite well, then the holiday is a great time to hone in on any remaining skills that need perfecting. These might include things like dressing and undressing, sitting independently, wiping or washing hands.
If you have done baby pottying (elimination communication) before, you might be further on with the process of learning anyway, therefore you could think about consolidating things.
However, if your child has never used a potty before and you are thinking about potty training from scratch, there are some reasons why the Christmas holiday might not the best time to start potty training:
- There will be lots of distractions, both for you and your child. Distractions will get in the way of you being available to focus on the task, but they will also make learning harder for your child. Christmas is not always the quiet time we imagine; it’s usually exciting and stimulating for children and a very busy time for parents.
- You are more likely to get resistance from your child. Research shows that most parents initiate potty training rather than the child. When parents take the lead in the right way, this approach is also shown to be the most effective way to potty train. However, at Christmas, potty training is likely to be a low priority for your child compared to the wonder and excitement of the festive season. Trying to change their whole way of life (aka where they wee and poo), is likely to create resistance to the process which won’t help your chances of success.
- Your child will probably have accidents to begin with. Accidents are part of the way we learn, but if you’re too busy to give the process the time needed, you will miss important learning opportunities. Accidents can also be frustrating and even the most patient and gentle parent can feel stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays. Your response to accidents is an important part of learning too – how well will you manage?
- You might have guests coming. The last thing your child needs at the beginning of potty training is to feel that they have to get things right straight away. Having guests in the house can really up the pressure to be successful, which can impact negatively on your child. Alternatively, if your child does succeed and everyone makes a big deal out of it with loads of praise etc., it can have the same negative impact later down the line. Potty training success should be celebrated, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming. Finally, your guests may have conflicting views to yours or a different parenting style. Support is wonderful but interference can be hard to handle. If you are at risk of a well-meaning relative “helpfully” suggesting that Santa is watching for good little children who do their wees in the potty and won’t be bringing presents if they don’t… maybe it’s not the best time of year to start!
- You might have arranged trips out and you might not be ready to go out without nappies yet. Putting your child back into nappies (and this includes pull-ups) for a trip to the theatre or a long car journey sends the wrong message and is not recommended once you have started potty training.
The good news is that if you really do need to potty train at Christmas, there are things you can do to gently start this process.
These include making good preparations for the process, setting the scene and working with your child to raise awareness of their body and it’s processes.
If your child is younger than 18 months, you can also do a lot to prepare for potty training! Check out my evidence based guide to help get you started, or go straight for the full book by Go Diaper Free.
***Rebecca is a certified Go Diaper Free coach, registered Children’s Nurse and potty training specialist and can be found at littlebunnybear.com.***
A little PS from Andrea – IF you have read the above and feel confident that you can reduce distractions and be focused on potty training this holiday, then GO FOR IT! Maybe begin the day after Christmas and end on New Year’s…that’s what I’d do!
If you read the above and feel iffy – do it the first weekend of January and try to take a day off before or after the weekend…give it a full effort Thursday thru Monday nights if you can…but do NOT wait until summer to train!
No matter what, get equipped, read the book, and clear your entire schedule for about 3 days to dive on in…the earlier you start, the earlier you finish.
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Please comment below: are you going to potty train over the holiday break – or teach any parts of the potty process?
I look forward to speaking with you below! Xx Andrea
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)