Potty training your toddler is an exciting time! On one hand, you’ve reached the point in parenthood when you’re ready to bid farewell to diaper duty. On the other hand, the realization that your baby isn’t really a “baby” anymore is enough to break any parent’s heart. Blind parents need to be organized and systematic when undertaking the task of toddler potty training. Consistency and patience are necessary to help your child progress through this developmental milestone. With careful planning and some child-friendly incentives, potty training is survivable for both parent and toddler. Having just recently completed training my own three-year-old daughter as a blind parent, here are my Tips for Toddler Potty Training.
“9” Tips for Toddler Potty Training
1. Designate a Plastic Potty Area: Purchasing a plastic toddler potty allows you the flexibility to teach your child bathroom basics anywhere in the home. Once you have a designated area, place the potty on a small, washable throw rug or rubber play mat. This provides a tactile cue for blind parents, signifying where your potty is located. It also allows you to place your potty on a slip-free surface so your little one can sit safely and firmly without sliding across the floor. If the occasional accident does occur (and it will), the rugs can be washed, and the play mats can be easily wiped down with disinfecting wipes.
2. Make a Potty Basket: Toddlers are not known for their patience. How then are parents supposed to encourage them to sit patiently while they learn to do their business? The answer is simple, make a potty basket. Purchase a small sectional basket or bin. Then, head to your local discount store to fill it with small, interactive items for your child to enjoy like coloring books, crayons, sheets of stickers, or sewing cards. You may also want to buy a few new books to encourage reading while on the potty. Visually impaired parents should organize basket in such a way that they know where every item is located. Using a Pen Friend or braille, label each compartment accordingly so you can easily locate the items it contains. Present your child with their potty basket on the day you begin training and keep it in close proximity to your training area for easy use.
3. Let Beloved Characters Back Up Your Message with DVD’s & Audible Apps: Parents need backup promoting the message that learning to potty train is a positive part of growing up that everyone experiences. Look to your child’s favorite characters for emotional support during this journey with your child. Characters like Elmo and Daniel Tiger have books and videos relating to potty training. Blind or visually impaired parents can easily purchase books or download videos to their mobile devices. In addition, several potty training apps are available for both Apple and Android devices. Apps like Potty Training with Elmo ($3) provide stories and songs that visually impaired parents can use to reinforce potty training techniques. Once Upon A Potty ($2), based on Alana Frankel’s famous children’s book, also provides song and audible stories that blind parents can share with their child. Utilizing the accessibility features on your devices will provide easy access. Sharing stories and television shows with your child that reiterate the positivity of potty training will help your child become more comfortable with the process.
4. Make a Potty Chart: Monitor your child’s progress by making a potty chart that incorporates stickers to keep track of their bathroom achievements. Blind parents may want to purchase braille-based stickers such as braille dots. These stickers provide brightly colored designs all children will enjoy with tactile braille messages for blind parents. Allow your children to come up with a design for their chart, either including one of the favorite characters or an interesting theme. My daughter chose Finding Dory for her potty chart! Every time she was able to use the potty, she received a braille dot sticker! Once she achieved five stickers, she got a prize.
5. Baby Wipes Are the Best Cleaning Option: Blind parents should stick to traditional baby wipes when cleaning their child after they have used the potty. Just as with diaper changing, wiping your child in a grid formation both up, down, and across will help ensure your child remains clean. The additional moisture provided in wipes, as opposed to the dryness of toilet paper, will also help visually impaired parents clean up any sticky messes during training.
6. Reward: Your child should be rewarded for their potty training efforts. Reward methods vary can vary from food related treats, like Lollipops or M&M’s, to small toys or dolls. While some parents make look down on this method as a form of bribery, many experts agree that a reward system is beneficial in potty training. Learning to use the bathroom is difficult and frustrating for your toddler. Teaching them that they will be rewarded for working hard is not necessarily a bad thing. It will also serve as additional motivation, encouraging them to use the potty. It is important for blind parents to consider safety when choosing their reward method. Toys with small parts or smaller candy food options may potentially cause a choking hazard for your child. Use your own judgement based on your previous experience with the individual needs and development of your child, selecting a reward that is both safe and economical for your family.
7. Choosing the Right Language: Blind parents may be unable to see the usual physical cues associated with their toddler’s bathroom needs, like shifting from side to side, crossing the legs, or holding their genital area. Instead of constantly asking your child if they “have to go to the bathroom,” blind parents should periodically remind their toddlers to “listen to their bodies” approximately every 20 to 40 minutes. By utilizing positive verbal cues like “listen to your body,” you are teaching your child to hone in on their own physical cues, giving them insight into knowing when they might need to use the bathroom. This prevents blind parents from relying solely on their child’s visual cues for training.
8. Don’t Rush the Process: Blind parents need to understand potty training is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be days when your child will not have any accidents. Then just when you think your kid has mastered the potty, they could regress in epic proportions! Be patient. Be kind. Give them the opportunity to learn as quickly or slowly as they need to. Have pull-ups and underwear on hand, but always make sure you carry a spare set of clothing in those beginning weeks of potty training. Remember, the only thing predictable about toddlers is their unpredictability. If you begin to feel overwhelmed in the potty training process or believe your child is showing signs he or she may not be ready, take a break.
9. Ignore the Potty Peer Pressure: Everyone has an opinion for the parent who’s about to undertake potty training. Grandparents, co-workers, and other moms at the playground will undoubtedly offer you their opinion and pass judgment on when and how you potty train your child. The best course of action is to politely tune these people out. Don’t succumb to the potty peer pressure. You know your child better than anyone else in the world. Train when you both are ready and take as long as you both need.
Editor’s note: This post is part of the new Blind Parenting series on the American Foundation For the Blind’s website, Vision Aware, created to provide visually impaired parents with first-hand accounts of how you can raise a child safely and independently. Please click on HERE to read this piece in it’s entirety and to find more informative articles relating to parenting while blind or visually impaired.