I’m in no way an authority on child behaviour or indeed a health worker. However, I have helped two children through the dreaded potty training phase. We now have two completely ‘dry’ children on our hands ready to do it all again with baby number three. Florence has only become dry at night since New Year. It seems to have happened without us really doing anything and I am a great believer in ‘they’ll do it when they’re ready to do it’ but, if it’s a help, here are five things we did to help Florence become dry at night.
Florence has been wearing pull-up style nappies/pants since she was about 2 years old. As soon as she was showing an interest in the potty/toilet we switched to pull ups. We used different a different style pull-up at night time to what we did during the day, just to differentiate the two time periods. We felt using pull-ups was the first step to encouraging Florence to take control of her own potty training. If she could pull her own pants down then she might be more encouraged to use the potty/toilet herself if needed. I know people who have gone straight from nappies to knickers/pants but Florence just wasn’t ready, I’d have been changing wet bedding for weeks on end. She needed a stepping stone.
2. No pressure
I felt putting Florence straight into knickers and expecting her to grasp that she needed to get up for a wee at night was a lot of pressure to place on her. We found, when trying to get Florence dry during the day, that the more pressure we placed on her to be dry the more accidents she had. So, we have taken our lead from her. We checked her pull-ups each morning, over time they got drier and drier. It did feel, at one point, that she was going to fill them to bursting every night for the rest of her life. We never said “oh Florence you shouldn’t be weeing in your pull-up” – after all, she doesn’t really have control of it whilst she’s asleep – it really is a learnt skill that happens over time. I’ve found that when children feel like they are getting something continually wrong the more anxious they become about it and the less likely to succeed.
This leads me on to my next point. Praise. It really is key! When the pull-up was dry in the morning we gave Florence a big well done cuddle or high five and asked her to have a wee. Children look to their parents for approval all the time. It makes sense, if they successfully achieve a desired result, praise them to reinforce the action. Don’t start with the bribes, that’s a slippery and expensive slope and in our experience doesn’t really work in the long term!
4. Don’t acknowledge the accidents
It goes without saying that if praise encourages a behaviour then telling your child off when they have an accident only makes matters worse. When you do make the leap to knickers/pants there will be the odd accident. Don’t make it into a big issue. Florence seemed to get quite upset when she had an accident but we just changed her covers quickly during the night, gave her a big cuddle and told her not to worry and popped her back in. We only have about two nights like this and she’s been dry since.
5. Restrict fluid
Finally, and probably most obviously, restrict their fluid in take. We spent many months giving Florence a beaker of water beside her bed as she had learnt the behaviour from her big brother. We soon realised this was probably delaying matters and put a stop to it. What usually happens is; she asks for a drink and we say “Ok, I’ll bring it up in a little while” and then she falls asleep! She’s still not cottoned on to the fact we might not be telling the whole truth and we never actually intended on brining it up in the first place. Future Florence, if you’re reading this, then sorry! I give Flo a drink with her dinner around 5:30pm and then that’s it, she’s always in bed by 7:15pm.
It seems like pretty common sense to me now, but I know when you start the process it can seem daunting and you don’t always know what to do for the best so I hope these little tips have helped in some way. Even if it’s just to reinforce what you’re doing is going to help, it certainly helped Florence.