Most parents can list you the difficult stages in life that you’ll go through with your child. One of the ones that everyone usually skirts around is potty training. If they had an easy go of it, they’ll just say “Yeah that was no problem for my kid”. On the other hand if it didn’t go so well all they’ll say is “Oh man.” I know even as a mom with friends who have little ones the same age as mine, we just don’t discuss potty training as much as maybe we should. The only comments are the ones that contain either frustration, or happiness.
For those new parents out there that are looking for a bit more help in the area of trying to get their little one to take to the potty, I’ve complied 25 helpful tips that stem from my own personal experiences as a mom as well as advices from other moms that I’ve recently spoken to before writing this. Like all parenting advice, it’s important to point out that while all of these tips work, not every one of them will work for your toddler, so do adapt some of the methods to how your little one behaves.
- Don’t force them to train before they are ready. The biggest mistake a lot of parents make is thinking that their child is ready to potty train before they actually are. Lots of this is because of information passed to us through our parents. How many of us have heard “You were trained by the time you were two”? This information is fine, but lot of time is also inaccurate. Just because you remove the diaper doesn’t mean that the child is potty trained.
- Watch for cues that they are ready. If they are starting to follow you into the bathroom when you’re going a little more than they used to, if they are starting to ask what you are doing and if they are generally showing more interest in the bathroom altogether, then you know are getting close. This is true for both boys and girls.
- Get underwear. What I found helped with mine, is getting underwear that they can put over top their diapers. It’s just something that they can look forward to. Allow them to pick out what they want. They make neat underwear for both boys and girls now, so include them in the process.
- Find an incentive. Some people will suggest a little treat, some will suggest a toy others will suggest stickers. I found over time, that they all worked for a little while. Find what works for your child. The dollar store has plenty of little toys that can be used for the potty jar. They also have tons of stickers that can be used so they can count how many times they went that day.
- Be consistent. This is one thing with toddlers that is never going to change. You have to be consistent all the way through, or they will get confused as to what they are supposed to be doing. This can be difficult in split homes, which may cause the child to take a bit longer to get the hang of things. It is totally normal for some children to take longer when they have different schedules. Other things that might upset a schedule: a trip, an illness, and a switch in daily schedules.
- Forgive accidents. Do not get mad if they have an accident. Brush it off as though it’s not a big deal at all and carry on with the day. The last thing that you want to do is associate the bathroom with bad memories. If there are bad memories then you’ll have a big problem on your hands.
- Understand that not every kid gets it in the first week. You might get lucky and after two days without diapers, you’re good to go. On the other hand you might find that it takes almost a year for everything to fall into place. Both are normal.
- Boys and girls pee differently. Something you might already know, but in case you forgot because the diaper is off, boys still kind of pee up. Potties come with a little guard for a reason. If you’re using a potty seat you will want to make sure the guard is up for boys. Girls need to be reminded to sit far enough back, or you’re still going to have a mess all over the floor.
- Use daddy. Some boys completely idolize their dad. Use this. However daddy goes to the bathroom, let your little boy do it the same way. It might even come down to the part where he only wants daddy to come with him, and that’s okay as long as daddy is home.
- Keep the bathroom door open. Sure bathroom time is one of the only quiet times that you might have, but keeping the door open allows the curious little ones to see what’s going on.
- Keep the potty available. Some children use a potty, some prefer to use the toilet. If yours prefers to use a potty, keep it somewhere out in the open where they can get to it at any time without much help. The living room is often a good time.
- Sit with them. The biggest thing that I found that helped my little one was sitting with her. She liked to sing on the potty. She still does. It kept her there long enough for her to go and made it kind of exciting for her as well.
- Use reminders. Once they have moved passed the need for a diaper, they still might need reminders. Some little ones would rather spend their time playing then stop and go to the bathroom. Helpful reminders to stop and go will prevent a lot of messes, and a lot of frustration. Reminders may be needed at night too.
- Don’t rush night time training. Daytime is one thing, night time is completely different. It’s also very common for them to happen at different time.
- No yelling. It’s going to be difficult at times. Don’t yell. If your child knows that you’re getting frustrated then they will be. They feed off your emotions. It may cause them to stop trying altogether.
- Everything is a victory. Any time something makes it into the potty, it is a success. Even if half of it ended up on the floor. Doesn’t matter. It’s a high five and a “we’ll get the rest latter little man.”
- Listen. Once they are out of diapers the important part is listening to every time they tell you that they have to go. They need to learn to trust their bodies and so do you.
- Other children are helpful too. It might sound crazy but other children help as well when you’re training. Kids like to be part of the group, and they like to look up to their siblings.
- Sit on the toilet backwards. Not only can this be fun, but it can help to reduce mess. What kid doesn’t like to sit on a chair backwards? Sitting on a toilet backwards is just silly, and that’s the kind of thing that children like the most.
- Get rid of diapers all together. This might go against some of the things already said, but some children rely on diapers, and they get comfortable. Once you take them away and they have to get used to the feeling of wet clothes against their skin, they will adapt quick.
- Accept the bad days. Even if you’ve gone two weeks with no accidents, you might still have a day where they decide that they aren’t going to use the toilet at all. Keep calm. Remember that they know what they are doing, and they will likely go back to normal the following day. Maybe that day is a tired day.
- One may come before two. It’s not uncommon for some kids to pee in the toilet long before they will poop in the toilet or vice versa. My experience is vice versa. Pooping came very easy, we are still working on the pee part. Some just don’t understand that both are supposed to go in the same spot.
- Target practice. If you’re training your son, and he wants to stand up like daddy does, then set up a target for him to hit. Make it a game, so he collects points all day long and at the end of the day he gets a treat based on the level of points.
- Reading time. Story time is an important time of day. It’s okay to use potty training time as story time.
- A special escort. Some children have a special toy that they need for everything. What you can do is get a special stuffed animal that goes only to the potty. Kind of like a guard. This works well for kids that are afraid of the bathroom for whatever reason.
At the end of the day you will find what works for you and your child. The most important thing is to listen to what is working and what isn’t. No two children are ever alike, even siblings, so you will need to adjust from kid to kid. Sometimes you may need to even adjust methods as your little one grows up. Adapting is the biggest key to parenting and potty training a toddler successfully!