"Do you have to go potty?"
It's a question that Brainerd day-care provider Tina Beck asks her young charges over and over again throughout the day.
And the answers she gets back depend on whether the toddlers in her care truly get the concept of toilet training. She's caring for three toddlers who are learning to use the "big potty."
For 22-month-old Brandon Hartman, it's either a hit or miss situation. Sometimes he'll go to the bathroom at day care, but he refuses to go at home.
Parents look forward to the days when they no longer have to buy diapers, but getting to that point can be a frustrating experience for both parent and child. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests on its Web site that parents do not start toilet training until both parents and the child are ready to devote the time and energy on a daily basis for at least three months.
A child is ready when he or she can tell parents that a diaper is wet or soiled or when a child asks to go to the bathroom. Usually this happens when a child is 18 to 24 months old, but it's not unusual for a child to remain in diapers until 3 years of age, according to the academy.
Lonna Rozinka has five children, the oldest is 17 and the youngest is 23-month-old Avery, who also attends Tina's Stay and Play Daycare in northeast Brainerd. In June, Avery suddenly told her mom that she had to go to the bathroom -- and she went. She no longer soils her diapers and is starting to stay drier at night, her mom said.
"It was initiated by her, not by us," said Rozinka. "I think she's kind of young to be so into it, but I'm not going to argue with someone who wants to go in a toilet rather than in a diaper."
Rozinka, who has one son and four daughters, said girls seem to be a lot easier to potty train than boys. Her son was potty-trained when he was 3-1/2. She expects Avery will be fully potty-trained by Christmas.
Beck alternately brings each child-in-training into the bathroom on frequent intervals, particularly after snacks, naps and lunch time.
Parenting experts say that children need to become used to seeing a potty chair, and make an effort to put the child on the toilet when he or she seems to want to go to the bathroom. Don't force a child to spend time on a potty chair.
A child who can stay dry for at least two hours at a time, can help pull his or her pants up and down and seems to demonstrate a desire for independence -- to be a "Big Boy" or "Big Girl" -- is a perfect candidate for toilet training.
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