By Vicki Little
Potty training is a BIG deal. It is a family affair. No one is free from the begging, interruptions, cheering, and of course — the accidents. It doesn’t have to be a miserable experience, though. Be prepared for success with these 6 simple steps for potty training!
1. Follow your child’s lead. All children learn differently, and this is one area where you will really be able to see the differences! Your self-motivated daughter may have been fully trained by the time she was two-and-a-half, but your musician son may be too busy playing on Mom’s pots and pans to be interested in going until he is 3 or older. You will know they are interested when they start asking to go, or they just get themselves undressed and get on the toilet themselves. Another indicator is when it starts to bother them that they are wet or dirty.
2. Prepare for the “big day.” Get all the needed supplies, stickers, potty chair/seat, bribery items, such as candy or little toys, Cheerios for the boys, a big poster to track success, and an alarm clock to remind you when it is time to try. Stock plenty of books, crayons, paper, and things to do in the bathroom. Get your child excited about the day they become a big girl/boy. Have them pick out their new underwear. And buy a lot of it. Finally, schedule the date. Make sure it is a week that’s light on activity so you can stay home most of the time. Don’t overdress your kiddo! If they just underwear for a couple of days that might be ideal. Or use leggings or pants without buttons that they can easily slide down but will feel more uncomfortable in when they are wet.
3. Time to sink or swim. Talking with your child about potty training is important. Spend a few weeks building up the idea. If your child wears underpants for only part of the day, then diapers for the other half, he or she will likely get confused, making potty training much harder. From the moment they wake up on the scheduled day, start potty training. Have the mindset that this isn’t a “trial run” — this is it! Have them go to the bathroom and put on their new underwear. NO DIAPERS AT ALL! For the first day, remind them every hour (or a half hour after a meal or big drink) to try to go the bathroom. Be alert for signs they have to go, like the potty dance or holding themselves. Be near a bathroom at all times when possible!
4. Positive reinforcement only. Celebrate like they just won the lottery because they will feel like they did. Don’t yell at them or make a big deal when they have an accident because accidents WILL happen! The best bet is to leave all negativity out, but have them help clean up their own mess. They will need to take off their underwear and put it in the washing machine, wipe up the floor, and change into new underwear. When they do go, celebrate! Give hugs and praises and prizes, if that is what you are doing. Do not make them clean out their potty chair since that will discourage them. Buy a fun scented soap to encourage them to wash up (the foaming kind is quite popular in the toddler crowd).
5. Evaluate their progress. If your child is starting to strongly dislike potty training and cries at the mere mention of it, they may not be ready. You will know. You have been with your child long enough to know when you are stuck and when there is progress. If they aren’t ready, then simply stop and try again another time. There are many reasons it may not be the right time, but it will only get worse if you push it.
6. Celebrate — or schedule a new time. After a week of no accidents, have your child “sell” their diapers. Maybe you can do so in a consignment group, or you can simply pay your child and donate the diapers. Let them use the money to celebrate with a new small toy. If they aren’t quite there yet, simply let them know it is OK, and you will try again when they feel a bit more ready.
Do you have a successful potty training tip to share?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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