How to Prepare for Therapy When Your Child Is Potty Training

How to Prepare for Therapy When Your Child Is Potty Training

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As a physical therapist who has been working with young children and have a toddler of my own, I know how difficult (and nerve racking) taking a child who is in the middle of potty training out of the house can be! As parents who only want to see our children succeed, every possible outcome runs through our minds. What if my child has an accident in the car, at the store, in school? How will they react? How will others react? Fortunately, there are ways to help our children succeed and work through those initial accidents during potty training that are bound to happen at some point or another.

The success of potty training is influenced by our preparation for accidents. Below are some suggestions to consider when taking your potty-training child out of the house for therapy, however, they can be applied to any errands or trips outside of the home:

1. Take your child to the potty prior to the start of therapy – even if they say they do not have to go, giving them an opportunity to try and sticking to a routine of always going prior can lead to success in the future. You may notice that with time, your child will ask you if they can go to the potty prior to starting therapy, instead of you asking them!
2. Rewards – consider integrating a reward system with your child during potty training and bringing that reward system with you to therapy. For example, stickers/snacks/hot wheel cars could all be rewards for their success after going on the potty outside of their home. I recommend looking in the dollar store and stocking up on some cheap but fun rewards!
3. Pack a change of clothes – accidents are going to happen. To avoid having to turn the car around, cancel an appointment, or end a session early, make sure to pack a change of clothes. This includes clean underwear, pants, shirts, and socks!
4. Pack Pull ups for emergencies – sometimes one change of clothes is not enough, unfortunately. Or often when initially learning to potty train, kids will “leak” until they can fully feel and register when they need to go. This leads to wet underwear but not necessarily the need for new pair of pants. Packing some pull-ups can help keep our kids comfortable and confident to continue therapy!
5. Wipes are our friend – you can never have enough wipes! Remember to pack wipes to clean your child off after an accident so that they feel fresh, clean and ready to go!
6. Consider the shoes – accidents can travel all the way to your child’s feet! Consider having your child wear a wipeable shoe such as a clog or sandal, if appropriate. This may not be an option if your child wears braces or if there is cold/wet weather. If your child is in braces, speak with your therapist about your concerns with accidents and see if they have any thoughts or suggestions.
7. Take your child to the potty immediately after therapy – this could avoid accidents on the way home or at your next destination. It also can begin a routine so that your child learns when he/she will have good opportunities to go. While you are in the bathroom take advantage of washing hands and preventing the spread of illness!
8. Don’t leave – if your child is potty training, please do not drop your child off and leave the building. There is nothing more embarrassing or more uncomfortable than your child having an accident and their caregiver not being there immediately to help take care of the situation. Sitting in wet/dirty clothes waiting for their parents to arrive is no fun and can cause anxiety for future sessions. I also recommend being there for when your child says that they need to use the restroom. Your child would much rather prefer going to the bathroom with the help of their mom/dad/caregiver over their therapist.

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