Essential Tips For Potty Training Your Child
Potty training your child can be one of the most frustrating, not to mention messy, jobs of parenthood. Every child needs to be potty trained, though it can certainly turn into a war of wills at times. Children can be ready for training anywhere between the ages of 1½ and three years old, and your child will usually show signs of readiness that you can take your cue from like, interest in using the potty, wearing underwear, or wanting to be a 'big boy' or girl like another child they know. If you think your child is ready, there are a few things that will make this journey a little easier.
Top Tips For Potty Training Your Child
Diaper substitutes like Pull-Ups have their uses but don't use them for training in the daytime. Pull-Ups are no different than diapers in that the child will not be uncomfortable if he has an accident. Pull-Ups are great for overnight when your child is probably still too young to wake up and go to the bathroom. Staying dry through the night is a milestone that is often not reached until long after your child is trained during the day.
When you start potty training, arm yourself with at least ten pairs of underwear per day, and don't let them wear the Pull-Ups until nighttime. This will encourage them to stay dry as it is quite uncomfortable to have wet underwear, and they will not like having to change so often.
It is a good idea to have a small potty chair placed where your child can easily access it on his own, as oftentimes, little ones don't get much warning when they have to go. Usually, your toddler will be so engrossed in play that he will not remember to use the potty until the last minute and will often have an accident if he can't get there quickly. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, have a spare training seat outside and for bringing with you when you are visiting away from home.
It is o.k. to use treats as a reward for using the potty. Be sure to give lots of praise and make a big deal every time. You might want to keep a chart and award stars for dry days, or you can split the day up into sections for easier goals.
For boys, it is fun to put a target in the potty for them to aim at, it teaches them where to aim, and it also makes it into a sort of game. Cheerios make a good target, and you can also buy coloured tissue paper and cut them into shapes. You might also want to let your child into the bathroom with you or older brothers and sisters to show him that this is something everyone learns to do.
Nothing says a good job like a small reward. Some parents choose to reward toddlers with small treats such as a single M&M after a successful trip to the potty. But candy isn't written in stone. It is a personal choice how you will reward your child.
Oftentimes, small children are just as thrilled with a big hoopla. Do a special "potty dance" after they have succeeded. Dole out high fives, big hugs, or sloppy wet kisses. Stickers work great too. Any incentive to remember to go the next time around will help your child change his or her thinking habits.
Don't forget to give them a "Good Job!" even if they are not successful the first few times. It may help them and encourage them to remember the next time.
Make your child a part of the process as much as possible. This means allowing them to help you when shopping for a potty. Let them pick it out and make a big deal out of the purchase. Anything that gets a parent so excited must be great! If the potty is a hand-me-down from an older sibling, it is still possible to include them. Let them help when washing it up, and even let them pick out some favourite stickers to decorate it. This little step will really make it "their potty."
Stress The Potty
Keep a potty chair wherever your child spends the most time. If your child starts to have an accident, stress the potty by picking them up and taking them to the potty while the accident is happening. Do not scare the child by gasping and grabbing them. Simply say, "let's get this where it should be." Even if the accident is over by the time you get there, you are stressing to your child where they should go when they need to go potty. Just remember to keep plenty of towels and wipes handy.
Potty On The Go
When you head out with your child, carry a portable plastic potty seat insert. These fit into the adult toilet seats to allow a more comfortable trip to the potty for your child. While you are at it, buy a nice tote bag too. This way, you can make your child a helper by having them carry their potty seat to the car. A simple statement like, "can't forget your potty seat!" will reinforce that they should tell you if they have to go while out and that they will have their own seat and be comfortable.
You can never stress openness enough during the potty training process. Before you go anywhere, remind your child that all they need to do is tell you when they have to go. Make a big deal about how all the stores have different kinds of bathrooms. Their curiosity will often get the better of them.
Above all, try to avoid showing your frustration or anger. It is perfectly normal to feel these things during this event, but showing those emotions to your child could be detrimental. They could feel as if they are disappointing you, and that could put them off of the whole experience. Fear of failure can discourage a young child from even attempting to learn something new. If you do get upset, go back and apologize. Tell them that accidents happen and reinforce the fact that practice makes perfect. After all, we were *all* once in their shoes.
Don't make a huge fuss if your child has an accident: it is going to happen, and if you get upset, it may discourage them from further effort and cause them to regress back to diapers. It is completely normal for training children to go into periods of regression where you just want to put the diapers back on. Perhaps your child really isn't ready, and you should give him another month and try again. With consistency and understanding, you will have your child potty trained in no time!
The potty training experience can be stressful for both parents and children. Nothing can frustrate all involved more than frequent accidents and loss of interest. With a good attitude and a few small tips, you and your child can smooth the transition from little kid to big kid.
About the contributor:
Sarah Anguish is a northerner at heart, now living in Norfolk with her husband and three children. Alongside running a family lifestyle blog she works for her local NHS stop smoking service, juggling the highs and lows of being a working parent around the needs of her busy family.