Every week I hear moms talking about potty training. When should I start? When will I know if it is time? Which method should I use? There are hundreds of books out there about this topic, and the tips they offer are from one end of the spectrum to the other. There are no guarantees that any general advice will work for you or, more importantly, your child. Each situation is different, and may require a more personal analysis than is possible in a blog (or even a book). However, I can provide some simple ideas to incorporate into any method that you try.
You are not alone
Every parent on the planet has been through potty training at some time. Now is a great time to ask around for tips and tricks. Your friends, pediatrician, kid’s teachers, and any care provider with whom your child interacts may be a good source of advice. Ask questions to determine if they have seen an interest in potty training from your child. Also ask them to help you in this process. The more support you and your child get, the better.
All kids are different
This statement is always true, but especially so in this situation. There is a very large window when kids are ready and willing to potty train. Finding that time can be tricky. Do not be disappointed if your child isn’t interested or trained as quickly or as early as your friends’ kids.
Cherry-pick your favorite methods
As I mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of books written on this specific topic. Borrow a few and check out a few from the library and use a mix of the methods that you like best.
Go with your gut
You know your child best, and can read their signs better than anyone. If they are ready, act on that. If they are not, give them time. Listen to your gut and listen to your child.
Don’t force it
It may take a few tries to get your child excited and willing to attempt sitting on the potty. Give them an opportunity to sit on the toilet. If they are not crazy about the idea, try again in a few weeks. For many kids, this is the last hold out going from baby to toddler. Be patient.
Talk it up
Talk about being a big kid, using the potty, and have other people in your child’s life do the same. This will help get your child’s attention. The more reminders they get from lots of people, the more they will want to try it. Go potty with your child and talk about what is happening. Encourage them to try it!
Pick out undies
Take your child to pick out their first underpants. There are tons of underwear on the market and finding a pair with their favorite character or in their favorite color may be enough to get them to try. Practice wearing the underpants and getting used to how they feel. If you can’t find the ones your child wants, make your own. Print out a picture on transfer paper and iron it onto a plain pair.
Bring out the incentives
Now is the time to get out your best prizes, stickers, treats, whatever. Let your child know that this is an important event and there are great rewards for giving it a good try or doing a good job. A friend of mine put some trucks just out of reach, but within eyesight, of her son while he was going to the bathroom. He wanted those trucks so badly, and had to sit and look at them every time. It took a few days, but then he was potty trained and playing with his new trucks. Praise your child both verbally and with a token when they accomplish the goal.
Like any lasting relationship, you have to start with an introduction. Do not expect great things to happen overnight. Potty training takes time, a commitment and understanding between you and your child. Accidents happen and there is always tomorrow or another chance. Remember to praise when necessary, but also to keep your cool and always be prepared with an extra set of clothes or underwear.
I would love to hear your tips and tricks on potty training. Are there books or websites that are worth passing along? Do you have a funny story that might encourage others to keep at it when things aren’t looking good? Chime in!
More great sites to check out: