Potty training is one of those parenting milestones that’s unavoidable. If you’re thinking about starting the potty training process, here are some tips to get you and your toddler on the path to toilet trained bliss.
You’ve Got This
As seasoned teachers here at Discovery Point Suwanee Preschool, our first piece of advice is to let go of any self-imposed or societal pressures. There is no hard and fast rule that potty training should be done by a certain age or within a certain time frame. Please remember and appreciate the fact that every child is wildly different from the next. What worked for baby #1 may not work for baby #2. You may find that your daughter trains more swiftly than your son or vice versa. We suggest to go with the flow! Once you stop worrying about how other kids do in the classroom, it will make it a lot easier.
Let's get started:
You might be ready to get rid of diapers forever, but potty training is not about when you are ready as a parent. It is about how ready your child is. He will let you know when he is ready, verbally or otherwise. Pay attention to the signs. If your child wakes up dry in the morning or from naps, he’s probably ready to start. If he asks to sit on the toilet like mommy or big sister, let him! Whatever you do, though, DON’T force the issue. Per many pediatricians, toddlers can regress if the training process is started too early, sometimes suffering severe constipation as a result. There is no magic age to start potty training, but many kids show signs of readiness somewhere between the ages of two and three years. There are some great books about potty training for kids, I recomend to read a few together to reiterate the concept before starting, too.
Underwear is funderwear
Don’t underestimate the power of underwear! Enlist your child’s help in selecting them or surprise her with undies featuring beloved characters or colors. Toddlers love feeling like grown-ups, and they’ll feel anything but babyish sporting fun new undies. When you’ve deemed your child ready to start potty training, put him or her in underwear straight away (and clear your schedule for the day). Avoid pull-ups if you can! Pull-ups are no different from diapers. They still provide the security and option for little ones to wet themselves if needed. When you start their day in underwear, they’ll quickly get used to the icky, sticky feeling of being wet, and try to avoid it at all costs. You can count on accidents on the first day (maybe even that entire first week!), but this is key. Lastly, understand that nighttime training is a whole other beast that can take a much longer time to master. Overnight pull-ups and waterproof mattress pads can be your best friend in those early days of potty training. No judgment whatsoever!
Toddlers love a good reward for a job well done. M&Ms have become famous for potty training rewards, but other non-candy surprises can go a long way too. Sticker charts or stickers alone can also be very motivating. Just be sure to reward them only after they’ve done the deed.
The Path of Least Resistance
There are certain things you need to accept when jumping on the potty train. Accidents are inevitable. Patience is everything. And kindness is key. As difficult as it might be, you must steer clear of any negativity, punishments, shaming, or pushing throughout the potty training journey. Always choose the path of least resistance. First, bear in mind that kids generally don’t interrupt what they’re doing to rush off to the bathroom. There’s fun to be had! Give them gentle reminders to go every couple of hours instead of relying on them to trust their bodily cues. Asking if they need to go won’t cut it, because they almost always say no (isn’t that adorable?). In the beginning, watch for visual cues – squirming, holding their legs tight, walking slowly on tiptoes with their knees together, etc. As soon as you notice that they might be holding it in, pick them up and take them directly to the potty seat. Keeping them well hydrated helps reinforce the idea of peeing in the toilet. Water and juice are the usual suspects but don’t forget about the pee-inducing power of watermelon and cucumbers, too. Lastly, if your child is constantly wetting himself or not taking to the potty with ease, give yourself permission to take a break and try again in a few weeks. There’s no shame in that. At all. Acceptance – and the path of least resistance — is key.
Potty training is a gradual process, one that takes time and patience. Lots and lots and lots of patience. And Clorox wipes! Some kids will day train like champs, only to wet the bed every night. Other kids will demand diapers for doing #2 – even when they’re well past diaper age. Still others will refuse to go in public restrooms for what feels like years. No matter how long it takes your mini man or little lady to get the hang of it, remember that eventually, they will. And it’ll be well before grade school, too. You can definitely count on that.