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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

HELP! Potty Training! AHHH! the time has come...the dreaded potty training...SIGH

Should you skip the toddler potty and go straight to using the adult toilet? And if you do use a toddler potty - where do you find one and which one should you get? Ahhh, the joys of motherhood or fatherhood for this matter! We certainly don't have the answers....but if you do decide to use a toddler potty - we've got a couple in mind.

All of these can be found at Target.

Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D., is a Clinical Neuropsychologist in the Center for Pediatric Psychiatry at Children's Medical Center of Dallas and Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Stavinoha completed a residency in Clinical Neuropsychology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Stavinoha was named a University of Notre Dame Scholar and was awarded a University of Texas Fellowship. He was named Distinguished Psychologist for 2005 by the Dallas Psychological Association. Dr. Stavinoha specializes in the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional aspects of developmental disabilities and acquired brain injury in children. He is also an expert in general parenting, and is a regular guest on WFAA-TV's Good Morning Texas where he gives parenting advice about common issues facing children and families. He has recently written a book called, Stress Free Potty Training.
For more information on this new book ~ check out this website,

Here is a snipet from his recent appearance on Good Morning Texas where he discussed his view on Stress Free Potty Training

Potty training is one of many developmental tasks through which we as parents must guide our children. Successful potty training means more than just no more diapers – it is a developmental milestone for a child and an important accomplishment for parents. Potty training is a time when many parents first begin to realize that their children are their own person and do not necessarily share their parents’ desires or agenda. How parents approach this important parenting task can set the stage for how parents will deal with their children regarding many rites of passage throughout childhood. Parents who are in the midst of potty training their toddler soon learn, if they don’t already know, that their child has a mind of his/her own. Parents also quickly learn that they cannot really “control” their child’s potty training. This can be a frustrating and even stressful realization as parents look forward to the next 18 (or more!) years of their child’s development. However, if parents learn to approach potty training in a thoughtful manner and recognize that parents influence, but do not control, child development, then parents and child alike will be able to tackle this developmental challenge in a manner that sets the stage for effective and successful parent guidance throughout their child’s development.

When considering how to best influence the process of potty training, it is important to recognize that every child is unique and individual, and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. This is an important lesson for parents to learn early on, as it applies to practically every aspect of parenting. One of the things that makes our children unique is their budding personality. Even during the earliest stages of childhood, children show characteristics of temperament and developing personality that are important to consider when making decisions about any parenting issue, including potty training.

Regardless of temperament, parents are setting up a no-win situation if they try to start the process of potty training before the child is ready. Readiness can be broken down into physical readiness (i.e., the child has the fine and gross motor skill necessary to use the potty), cognitive readiness (i.e., the child understands the sequence and concepts involved in using the potty), and emotional readiness (i.e., the child has the desire and confidence to try). Even when a child is ready, parents need to remember that readiness is not the same as willingness – when it comes to potty training, parents cannot do all the work – the child has to participate! Stress Free Potty Training discusses ways to facilitate the process of potty training for your individual child to make it as easy and stress free as possible.

In Stress-Free Potty Training, parents are introduced to five temperament types – The Goal Directed Child, The Sensory-Oriented Child, The Internalizer, the Impulsive Child, and The Strong Willed Child. If a parent determines that their child seems ready for potty training, then awareness of that child’s temperament helps guide the process. Regardless of temperament there are a number of strategies that are useful with any child who is nearing potty training – we call these Universal Strategies. These include strategies such as role modeling potty behavior, practice time on the potty, and time spent without clothes (a strategy we call Nakedtime) to demystify the process of elimination. After the Universal Strategies, a menu of temperament-specific strategies is provided that take advantage of specific characteristics to enhance the potty training process. Stress-Free Potty Training also provides guidance in terms of strategies to avoid with certain temperament types.

Recognizing that there is no cookbook or step-by-step parenting approach that will be successful with every child, Stress-Free Potty Training provides parents with more than just guidance to help their child learn to use the toilet. It provides a model for thoughtful parenting to help children through the many developmental challenges that they will face throughout childhood.

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