Potty training your child can be stressful for both parents and their little ones even under the best of circumstances. Couple that with a child being on the Autism spectrum and the stress factor can sky rocket. If your child has some sensory issues as well, take that up another notch.
Even when the timing is right for both the child and the parents, potty training can still be stressful. Parents want potty training to be a positive journey for their children, but leaks, accidents and switching from training pants to diapers overnight can feel like setbacks.
When you’re trying to potty train a child with autism who may have also have some motor delays and/or is non-verbal, the task can seem daunting to say the least.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can try to make the transition easier on both yourself and your little one.
Make sure you have everything you need to hit the ground running! A small, child-sized potty or a seat for your toilet to make it easier to accommodate your child’s smaller size, wipes, plenty of Pampers Easy Ups, and any other supplies you might need as you and your child embark on this new journey.
Training pants such as Pampers Easy Ups can help the diaper-to-underwear transition by allowing potty training children to set aside their diapers and wear something with more of an underwear-like design that still helps keep accidental messes off clothing, bedding and other surfaces no matter whether they happen at home, on-the-go or overnight.
Wait until they’re ready
Watch your child for signs that they’re ready, both physically and mentally, to start potty training. If your child is non-verbal or motor delays prevent them from pulling down their own pants and underwear, it may be best to wait a while longer.
Remember, no two children are exactly alike and your child will potty train when they are ready. Trying to force it will only lead to frustration on both of your parts.
Explain the process
When we started our potty training journey, one of the things we noticed right away was that we needed to explain the process many, many times before our oldest picked it up. Children with Autism tend to do very well with a structured routine, make sure that you have one when learning to use the bathroom.
Use the same steps each time and explain the process throughout. While it may seem frustrating in the beginning, eventually it will become much easier. To help make the process even easier, try using a visual, or picture, schedule with your child. Actually seeing the process in step by step pictures can often help a child that may not always understand verbal cues.
Develop a cue
Speaking of cues, develop one with your child that let’s you both know that it’s time to use the potty. Whether that be a simple word like “potty,” or a picture card that they can hand you when they feel the need to go, pick a cue and practice it with your child (repeating it or showing them the card) each and every time you take them to the bathroom so that they know that they can use that cue to communicate that need.
Consistency is key
As the parent of a child with Autism, you probably already know just how crucial having a consistent routine is. Our little ones thrive on that, they flourish with it. Make sure you continue to give them that when starting the potty training process. Yes, there will be some upset initially, but creating and sticking to a routine from the moment you start will help make the adjustment period as smooth as possible.
Celebrate the small successes
Potty training is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, effort, and dedication to make it to the finish line. At times, the entire process can seem overwhelming and exhausting. There will be setbacks and there will be accidents, but take the time to celebrate even the smallest of successes. They can help you keep that goal in mind and make the frustrating parts a little easier to bear.
Find creative ways to reward your child
Potty training is not just a stressful situation for the parents, it is for the kids as well. In our own home, starting the potty training process was a definite change in our routine and our little man thrives on routine. Even the smallest change can throw him for a loop. Finding a creative way to reward your child for those small successes can help them see that this change, while definitely different, is not nearly as bad as it may seem.
Now rewards, like many things, are not going to work for every single child, but finding something that your child loves can really make a huge difference. Whether it be a few more minutes of TV time, a fun new book, a treat, whatever, finding the perfect one for your child can really help.
Make it fun!
Let’s face it, potty training is not a whole lot of fun and can get a little messy (literally), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it fun. Want to make sure they sit there long enough that they have a chance to go? Sing a song or two, tell some jokes, or grab a fun new potty training book that can also help your child understand the process. Even though the change in routine may make them uneasy or seem scary at first, making it fun will help ease them through the transition.
Bonus tip! Be patient and laugh it off
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, potty training is messy. Especially if you have little boys! While it may be incredibly frustrating at times, try to remember that this is a big adjustment for them as well. After all, they’ve done this potty business a certain way for their entire lives and now we’re trying to get them to change. That’s a lot for anyone to handle and having a frustrated potty coach isn’t going to do anybody any good. When the accidents happen (and believe me, they will happen), clean it up, laugh it off, and try again.
And if you’re still in need of a little advice, please join @Pampers on April 21st from 9-10pm EST as they host a Twitter party with Dr. Laura Jana, pediatrician, award-winning parenting book author and potty training expert who co-authored It’s You and Me Against the Pee…and the Poop, Too! Dr. Jana will be sharing her tips to help simplify and improve the potty training experience for little ones and their parents. RSVP here!
Before you go!
Grab your entries for a chance to win a Pampers potty training prize pack of your own! One US winner will receive a pack of Pampers Easy Ups, a Little Looster Step Stool, a Potty Ring, a It’s You and Me Against the Pee…and Poop too! book, and a $50 AMEX gift card!