Potty training is a very important part of your child’s development. It is also a developmental stage that presents a number of difficulties and challenges to even the most sensible and dedicated parent. There are, however a number of tips on potty training that can make the process easier.
Is Your Child Ready?
Your child is ready to begin potty training when:
- He knows words for urine, stool, and toilet
- He is somewhat bothered by feeling wet or soiled
- He shows interest in using the potty (he’s open to sitting on it or curious about bathrooms)
- He has an awareness of when he’s about to urinate or have a bowel movement
- He says “poop” and “pee-pee,” shows some desire to be changed, and is even enchanted by the potty
However it must be remembered that knowing when your child is ready to begin potty training is largely a matter of guesswork on your part, especially as all children are different in this regard.
Are You Ready?
Remember that this is a task that requires a lot of patience and a lot of cleaning up. You will also need to be able to perform all tasks along the way with a smile on your face and a willingness to do what is necessary. So if you are at a stage in your life where you feel that you will not be able to cope with the added stress of potty training, it is alright if you choose to postpone for a little while. Things that may prevent you from beginning potty training immediately include starting a new job or having a new baby. Moving to a new home can also delay the process of potty training.
Every Child Is Different
An important thing to remember as a parent is that every child is different many of the tips on potty training that you will read about or hear about are based on the personal experience of the person giving you the tip. If a certain training method does not appear to be working this does not mean that there is something wrong with your child or something wrong with the way you are doing it. It simply means that you need to try a different approach. Children are individuals with individual personalities and capabilities. To get them to potty train they need to be interested in the idea, and different children are interested by different things. Here are some common tips on potty training.
Top Potty Training Tips
Tip 1: Praise
One method of encouraging the potty training process is by giving hugs and clapping when your child uses the potty correctly. Telling friends and relatives about your child’s accomplishments will also make your child feel good. There are two things to keep in mind when using this approach:
- The approach builds self-esteem as children love attention from their parents and will do anything to increase the frequency with which they receive that attention.
- This method should work with just about any child as a starting point for potty training.
After a while other methods may become more appropriate for your particular child and tangible rewards may be used. But we’ll discuss this more later.
Tip 2: Underwear
Although many parents like to build up to allowing their toddler to wear ‘big kid underpants’ another approach could be to start with underpants very early in the process. On the day that you plan to begin potty training allow your child to select a number of different pairs of underwear and then allow them to put a pair on. Feeling like a grown-up can be an excellent catalyst for teaching your child a new skill. In addition it will increase their level of discomfort and self-consciousness when they do have an accident and speed up the learning process. Of course you will also have to deal with the messes and so on that this method generates, but with patience and a nearby washing machine it should be fine.
Tip 3: Disposable Training Pants
If you are not prepared to deal with the mess of heading straight to underwear, and if you have the time necessary to take a slightly longer route to train your child, you can use disposable training pants instead of underwear. These work in the same way as underwear with the added advantage of containing messes when accidents occur. The ‘cons’ of this approach are:
- It will take longer than immediately switching from diapers to underwear as children will not have the uncomfortable sensation of urine running down their leg to prompt them to learn faster.
- These disposable training pants are more expensive than diapers and underwear.
Tip 4: Create A Schedule
In many cases using a highly structured approach will make a significant difference in terms of the speed with which a child can learn to use the potty and the toilet. Regular bathroom trips play a role here. Asking your child fairly regularly whether or not they need to use the potty can also help your child become more aware of what it feels like to need the toilet. The only drawback of this approach is that you will need to try to make time to be at home frequently in order to reinforce the pattern. However, if your child has a regular caregiver while you are at work, he or she could fill that role for you during the day, with you taking over in the evenings, at night, and on the weekend.
Tip 5: Sticker Charts
This is a reward approach of motivating your child to use the potty and rewards occur in two phases:
- A small reward, namely a sticker, is awarded for each successful potty performance
- The stickers accumulate and result in a larger reward, such as a shopping trip to buy a specific item
However this approach needs to be used with care. Children may begin to manipulate the process and demand stickers frequently. They may ‘use’ the potty even when they don’t need to. The reward process, then, does not work for all children, but it could be a good approach to use if you know when to draw the line.
Tip 6: Wait Until Your Child Is Ready
This is an approach that could result in longer diaper use and that could leave your child in diapers until well after his or her age mates. However it is an approach that will work with any child as all children will, eventually, want to stop using diapers out of their own. This approach simply involves waiting for your child to develop an interest in potty training without pushing him or her, placing a potty seat in the bathroom is a means of subtle encouragement. When your child takes the leap and asks to use it, or uses it on their own, praise should rain down on them. This approach requires patience and a willingness to not adhere to norms.
Tip 7: Musical Motivation
It is amazing how motivating music can be for children. In any learning activity including a song can make it so much easier. There are two main ways that music can help children to potty train:
- Inventing a ‘special potty song’ can make the entire process far more interesting and enjoyable. One suggestion is that you sing the song to your child while they use the potty, and they sing it back to you after they have finished.
- There are potties that play music when you sit on them, which could be more than enough motivation for the average child to use the potty more and more frequently.
Music is basically a way of making the training more interesting and fun.
Tip 8: Toys And Treats
Toys and treats work in the same way as a sticker chart. Generally speaking it is better to only use these physical rewards on a temporary basis to get the training started. For the first 10 days or two weeks you should offer your child the opportunity to pick a surprise from the bag every time they use the potty successfully. This should be combined with appropriate attention and praise. Once the bag is empty, the child should continue using the potty without the necessity of incentives. However you must continue giving him or her the same amount of praise and attention each time until they are fully trained. Again, rewards can lead to manipulation form your child, so know when to draw the line.
Tip 9: Give Your Child Control
Children learn very quickly when they need the toilet and when they don’t. The real problem is that they don’t always learn the importance of going in the potty as quickly. Consequently you should let your child say when he or she needs to go. Prompt them regularly, but if they say they don’t need to go, don’t force it. Also be attentive if they speak up before you prompt them. Items that can help you to remember to ask your child if they need to go include:
- Alarm clocks
- Applications that make a noise every few minutes or hours
This approach will gradually teach your child to regulate their own toilet habits.
Tip 10: Introduce Potty Chair, Training Pants, Etc Early
To get your child comfortable with the idea of potty training you need to introduce the ‘supplies’ involved early. First off is the potty chair itself. Wrap it as a present or let your child decorate it to make it understood that it is his. This should be done when your child starts showing signs that they are ready to potty train. You should also let him or her get comfortable with other supplies, such as training pants or underwear a day or two before you actually begin potty training. Let them examine these items and try them on for a few minutes as an introduction to the activities that will follow in the next few weeks.
Tip 11: Positivity And Patience
It is difficult to keep that positive attitude up throughout the entire process of potty training, but you absolutely have to do it. Toddlers are easily impressed with themselves and they need positive encouragement for every task that they perform accurately, even if, to you, the task seems incredibly easy and not that exciting. Positive reinforcement is more useful in teaching your children a new skill than any rewards, sweets or outings will ever be because the bottom line is that they care about what their parents think. Getting annoyed or impatient will make the process take even longer. It is difficult to keep this attitude up, but your child will progress so much more quickly if you do.
Tip 12: Consistency, Interaction And Teamwork
The last three tips are:
- Consistency: Don’t switch back and forth between diapers, training pants and underwear as toddlers learn more quickly if they are consistently wearing the same thing.
- Interaction: Interactive processes, such as games videos and songs, can make a huge a difference with certain children in terms of the speed with which they become potty trained.
- Teamwork: Make sure that all caregivers, from grandparents to daycare teachers are aware of what methods you are using and are on board with helping you potty train your little one as quickly as possible.
With all of the above in mind, and an understanding that each child is different, it should not take you longer than average to achieve potty training success.
There are a number of other tips on potty training that are more specific. For example there are tips that are more appropriate for boys than for girls. However the basics have been covered here and will make your potty training experience remarkably easier to endure. When your child gets the hang of potty training, everyone’s lives will be improved, so do not delay the start of your training.