If you scratch the mind of a parent about concerns for their baby or toddler, odds are either sleeping habits or toilet training will come up. No question about it, there is a challenge here. Even though the vast majority of these adventures work out without major health issues, it is of little solace during the training. The concern takes a big bite of nervous energy. A few straightforward activities that can help to reduce frustration for the adults are highlighted below.
It’s obvious that there are many different methods to approach this training. As an example, on-line bookstores show 15 books devoted exclusively to sleeping problems and over 25 to toilet training. All but one of these books are rated 4-5 stars (****1/2) of a scale of 5) by the users. People are satisfied with the books. It’s interesting that, although each book claims to have the winning method, some are directly contradictory. For the methods, pay your money, take your choice. For serious problems of course, expert medical advice is available for those who need it.
Beyond the methods however, background activities that can make this period more enjoyable for the parents often get little emphasis. Three are outlined below:
Keep a realistic perspective on time and goals
A few hours awake in the middle of the night seem like forever. There is a distortion that sets in—a mentally predetermined time is set when sleep will come, or success on the potty. When that milestone passes, there is an increase in anxiety and then a new goal is set. Break the cycle of predetermined goals. (The goals are often determined by the “normal” development cycle, ignoring the fact that there is a natural wide range.) As long as there is no serious problem, events will unfold in their natural time. A day, a week, a month seems like a long time when waiting. Looking back it is an instant. Try for the middle perspective. In place of a goal, stay in the details of the moment of activity. Sometimes there are no options, so just relax, laugh at the absurdity of the situation and work through it
Make some records
There are several benefits. First, the record generally shows that the situation is not as bad as it seems. Second, if there turns out to be a real problem, this factual information for the health care provider to assess. Third, it’s reassuring to watch the changes. Years later, when the record is rediscovered stuck as a bookmark, it serves to jog the memory.
As an example for sleeping, use a sheet with the hours of the day in the rows and the days of the week in the columns. Have enough columns for at least 2 weeks (or longer) on a sheet. Keep track of the waking and sleeping time by shading in the time periods during which the child was asleep. Update the sheet after each period.
Develop a back-up plan in advance to deal with frustration
There is a time in all of these activities when the fatigue or frustration just appear overwhelming. It is just part of the deal, so prepare for it in advance when times are calm. A little planning here can avoid a crisis later. Several points are key in this planning: Determine the early warning signs that the fatigue or frustration are building to a critical point. Since the signs may not be recognized in the heat of the moment, look to identify them early. Then, identify people and resources that can be used. Discuss this plan with these people in advance. Finally, if the situation reaches a critical point, put it into action. Even if the plan is never needed, just knowing one there is a plan reduces frustration