My toddler asks to go to the potty after lights out. What should I do?
This is common among young children who are in the process of toilet training. Requesting to use the potty (self-initiation) is the final step in mastering independent toileting – so, it’s actually a great sign! Many parents are hesitant to say “no” and suffer the potential consequences. Children this age quickly figure out that requesting numerous trips to the bathroom, even when they don’t have to go (i.e., “dry runs”), is an effective way to escape something they may not want to do (go to bed) or to secure parental presence and attention when they become bored (in a dark, quiet bedroom).
Here’s what you can do
First, make sure to include a bathroom trip right before or at the very beginning of the bedtime routine to empty the child’s bladder. Second, if you are willing to permit a single bathroom trip after bedtime (but not 20 trips), place a single index card under your child’s pillow. Your child must surrender the card to signal s/he has used up his or her one permitted potty party.
If you believe these bathroom requests represent yet another way to secure attention from you the parent, then be sure to make your interactions brief, business-like, boring, and emotionally neutral during the bathroom trip. Don’t hesitate to enter your child’s bedroom occasionally to give verbal praise and physical affection for remaining quietly in his or her bed.