The first and most important step toward potty training success is simple, but often overlooked. You must wait until your toddler is ready for potty training. Too often, parents try to rush their toddler into potty training because they are afraid their toddler will fall behind their age group or want to feel their child is advanced somehow. When I started considering potty training my first born, my first instinct was to ask the advice of a veteran mother of two middle school aged children who was also the wife of one of my husband’s work associates. We will call her ‘Peggy” for future references and privacy purposes. However, that conversation left me feeling dumbfounded when she seemed shocked that I had just begun to consider potty training my 20 month old, since she had (in her mind at least) begun potty training at age 1.
“Really? At age 1? How could this be?” I asked myself. My son Steven wasn’t even really walking and had the vocabulary of about 3 words at age 1. I felt my heart begin to race as I wondered if my child was really that far behind. My pediatrician had not said anything to me. I began imagining packing pull ups in my son’s backpack in the future while I shopped Amazon for a training potty.
However, after a little more research, I came down to earth and relaxed, realizing that my dear friend “Peggy” was either full of BS or only potty training herself by carrying her infant to and from the potty when she was able to predict the child would go since the child was neither walking well enough nor could communicate the need to go.
Most pediatrician will agree that most children will begin to show signs of readiness at between 20 to 36 months. Signs of readiness include:
Capable of expressing the need to go
Wanting to be changed when wet
Showing interest in the big potty
Staying dry for extended periods of time.
Before your child reaches a majority of these milestones, potty training is pointless. In fact, starting before the child is ready can be detrimental to the effort since your toddler will almost always reject the idea and you will become discouraged. Only after you feel your child is ready, and you are the best judge since all children are different can you move onto the next step.
Next, you Will want to gather basic supplies for potty training. This will include most importantly a training potty, but also toddler training pants such as pull ups, and stickers or other small prizes for motivation. There are many different training pottys on the market today. Chances are you can find one that features one of your son or daughters favorite characters. Other training pottys play music or light up when used. It should be easy to find one your toddler will be excited to use.
Furthermore, making the transition from diapers to training pants is key to potty training success. Making a big deal about your child’s new “big kid pants” will give them a sense of pride for learning a new skill. Moreover, the more underwear like feel and ability to pull pants up and down will create a better transition to regular underwear while maintaining the same accident protection diapers offer.
Tracking your child’s success with a chart and handing out small prizes such as stickers will better motivate them to want to “try to go.” As a mother of boys, the Disney movie “Cars” was very popular in my house. Each time my son would successfully use the potty he would receive a sticker to place on a chart we kept on the bathroom wall. After to many stickers he would receive a hot wheel type car to add to his collection. About twenty-five little cars later we considered my son to be fully potty trained, having only an occasional accident at night.
While rewarding your child’s success can be key, not losing your cool over accidents is just as important. If child adamantly refusing to “try”, back off and wait a while before trying again. Don’t allow potty training to become a power struggle. Your child’s continued refusal could be sign of not being ready. You will only be working against yourself if you allow potty training to seem unpleasant or like a punishment for your child.
It usually works best to have your child try to go at normal intervals like every hour throughout the day. Instead, of asking your child ” Do you need to use the potty?” try simply stating “Its time to use the potty!” as this will narrow down your child’s resistance. Don’t force child to sit for too long on the potty. Four to five minutes is a good start. Sometimes reading to my children and looking at magazines would help keep them interested. If after a few minutes nothing happens, move on, don’t force it. Patience is crucial for potty training success.
Potty training is not an overnight success. It happens gradually as your child associates the need to go with the potty. Patience and consistency will gradually increase your child’s successful potty times and eventually decrease their accidents.