Potty training isn’t as scary as it sounds. As least not for us. As a mom of two toddlers (one who is fully potty trained, and one who’s halfway there), I’m here to offer you some practical potty training tips to ease your mind . . . and to keep you from losing it at the same time!
Potty training. . . . It’s that thing, like death and taxes, that is inevitable. You can run but you can’t hide. And no parent can avoid it. It’s a right of passage.
When our babies are newborns, we hear other parents telling their tales–horror stories involving #1 and #2.
And we just nod & laugh, and we put it out of our minds, because it is such a long way off.
Until the time comes! GASP!
But have hope. Because I’m here to tell you it’s not that bad; or at least it doesn’t have to be.
I’ve made it simple to follow by breaking my potty training tips into 3 sections:
- Potty Training Tips to Mentally Prepare to Potty Train
- Potty Training Tips for Starting to Train
- Tips When Potty Training is Underway
Just as if you were running a long race, you prepare, gather your supplies, create a plan, and then put your plan into action.
Even with all the curves and unexpected turns on the potty training road ahead, preparing gets you one step ahead. And these valuable potty training tips are sure to keep you on track
Now just picture that finish line–that glorious finish line where there’s no more diaper buying, butt wiping, poop messes.
The thought of it can feel like a mirage that you’ll never get to, but hold tight!
These awesome potty training tips will have you ditching diapers in no time!
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Potty Training Tips: Getting Mentally Prepared
Each child is different:
Each child is unique and kids develop and learn at different times and ages. Therefore, you will most likely find potty training girls and potty training boys to be a different experience.
You’ll hear potty training tips from friends, family, neighbors, even strangers. But you know your child best, and will figure out what works best for them.
You may also find, like I did, that even training your children the same way results in different experiences. Since kids have different personalities and likes/dislikes, what works for one child may not work for another.
My son was ready to potty train at an earlier age than my daughter. But my daughter picked up the idea of potty training and trained quicker than my son.
They liked different rewards (unless it was candy), and one liked sitting with a book while the other wanted to use the potty with no distractions.
My daughter liked wearing pull-ups while learning, but my son wanted nothing to do with them.
Have realistic expectations:
If you envision these grand ideas of potty training in 3 days and your child doesn’t even want to sit on the potty, then “Houston, we have a problem!”
Some kids will be ready to potty train, and some won’t. Different potty training methods may work better for some kids than others. And that’s ok.
Of all the potty training tips out there, this is an important one. What worked at the beginning of your potty training journey might not work now.
- Maybe your child isn’t completely ready to potty train
- There could be a big life event going on like a family move or addition of a new sibling
- Your child might regress or have problems on the potty.
If this is the case, it may be best to just take a break from it and try again in a few weeks or even months, or when you feel it’s best to try again for you and your child.
My son showed interest early on for potty training, then didn’t want to have anything to do with it once his sister was born. It took lots of repetition (and patience!) and it seemed like one day it just ‘clicked.’
My daughter on the other hand picked potty training up right away. Having no big life changes going on at the time, and having a big brother as an example, were advantages.
PIN IT FOR LATER
Realize accidents will happen:
You learn from your mistakes. Kids are going to have accidents and it’s important as parents that we reassure them its okay so that they don’t get scared to learn or even frustrated.
Helpful hints for minimizing accidents are:
- Staying close to a potty when training
- Making sure your child is ready and willing to start trying to potty train
- Getting them to the potty as soon as they say they need to go
Have patience/don’t force:
Remember my tip on repetition? Remember? Well, one day with my son, after I felt like potty training was never going to happen, something clicked.
It was that day I realized how important repetition was. All those trips to the potty with false alarms, or giving out rewards right away, weren’t all for nothing.
If you force it, you could be setting yourself up and your child, too, for potty training problems, and you may end up being counterproductive. It might take your child even longer to warm up to the idea.
And just remember. . . the first time you see pee or poop in the potty after putting all these potty training tips in motion, you’ll feel as excited as ‘Charlie Bucket’ did finding one of Wonka’s Golden tickets!
Potty Training Tips: Getting Started
Gather your supplies:
Showing signs that he was ready to potty train, we took my son to Walmart to get him a potty seat. We ended up getting the ring that goes over the regular toilet seat as well so as to try different methods.
Other useful items to get when starting to potty train can be pull ups or big girl/boy underwear to entice them to want to be trained.
You’ll quickly figure out what your child likes best.
Explore the potty seat:
Once your child shows interest in potty training or you get them a potty seat, place it in an area that you think they’ll be comfortable to explore. We set ours in the bathroom so they it was clear what the seat was for.
We also set some books next to it for when our son wanted to try it out.
At first he just wanted to check it out and look at it but didn’t want to sit on it. Leaving the potty seat on the floor of his bathroom allowed our son to explore it as he was ready.
Have a reward or treat to entice them:
Once our son was 2 (he had shown interest around 1&½ ), and he could understand more about potty training, we started introducing the idea of giving a treat or reward.
First we started offering a small treat for sitting or trying on the potty and a bigger treat if he actually went on the potty. For example, we found that he loved gummy bears. So we gave 1 gummy bear for trying and 2 gummy bears for actually going.
Tips for offering rewards for going on the potty:
- Offering certain rewards or treats only associated with potty training prevents confusing and keeps them from losing interest in the reward.
- Start small with the reward. When starting out, give a reward when they try, and also when they actually go. Once they got the hang of potty training and understanding the reward, we only gave rewards when they actually went.
- Give the treat or reward right after they try/go so that they associate the treat to using the potty.
Make Sure You Sign Up for The Free Potty Reward Chart!
Repetition is key:
Every morning about half hour after breakfast our son would regularly poop in his diaper. Therefore, soon after breakfast we started having him sit on the potty.
Even if he didn’t go, we always encouraged him to ‘try.’ We did this before bed as well.
We found that this ‘loose’ kind of potty training schedule was helpful without adding stress to our day.
And each time our kids use the potty, we repeat the same routine of wiping, flushing and washing hands to instill good bathroom habits.
Work it into your routine–create your own potty training schedule:
Depending on the potty training method you choose, make sure it fits into your routine and schedule.
Since we weren’t forced to have our kids potty trained by a certain age (we did preschool at home), and due to the fact that I’m a stay-at-home-mom, we didn’t need a strict potty training schedule.
We were able to encourage potty training without forcing it, and it was much less stressful for both us and our kids.
But sometimes parents want to potty train quickly and try methods such as the 3-day potty training method or stay home all week to get things moving.
It’s helpful to consider any of the following life changes or disruptions to your regular schedule when starting this potty training journey:
- The preschool or childcare facility you’re planning on sending your child is requiring your child to be potty trained
- Your schedule or the schedule of the main adult that is going to aid in potty training (Do you stay at home or will you be working extra hours, be away on business, etc.)
- A new sibling added to the family
- Upcoming family vacations
- Friends or relatives planning any upcoming visits
Any of these changes can all affect the success of your potty training efforts.
Use different tactics:
We offered both a potty training seat/chair and later introduced the potty training ring that fits over your toilet. Kids like options and sometimes my kids switch back and forth between the two.
We would also change the reward with our son’s changing interests or favorite things. The more motivated they are to get that reward, the harder they work at going to the potty.
Find out what your child likes and use that as a tool to help them potty train. Seeing your child lose interest in, or motivation from a reward, is signal to try something else.
Potty Training Tips: While Potty Training is Underway
Set limits for sitting on the potty:
Kids can get frustrated when they try to go or want to go on the potty, but nothing happens. They may also want your praise, or that potty reward. And my ‘favorite,’ they use sitting on the potty as a bedtime stall tactic.
There’s nothing like announcing “It’s bedtime!” to have your toddler reply “I need to go potty!”
When they sit on the potty for a good amount of time (I try to limit it to 5-10 minutes) and nothing comes out, I help get them off the potty.
I reassure them that it was a good try, and that we can always come back and try again. This way you acknowledge their efforts while setting boundaries.
I think it’s important to reward or acknowledge that they went potty right away. This helps them associate their using the potty with the reward quicker.
I still get SO excited for my kids when I see their excitement and pride for going in the potty. I give them lots of praise & high fives, along with their special treat. Sometimes we call family or do a little happy dance.
Follow your child’s lead:
If you want an easy potty training experience, then watch for signs and clues that your child is ready and willing to start and to make progress.
If accidents start up once they’re getting the hang of potty training, observe if they are just being too lazy to go to the potty or get wrapped up in what they’re doing.
Or consider if there’s another reason (like not being ready) or a life change that could be affecting their progress.
If they seem to need a break from potty training, then by all means take a break.
Success will happen much quicker when they are a willing participant. And listen to their likes and dislikes and find out what motivates them, as well as any hesitations they might have.
Offer pull ups and/or big boy and girl underwear:
We tried to entice our son to use the potty by getting him “big boy underwear.” He wasn’t interested. Later on when we were shopping in Walmart, I tried again to see if he was interested. He got upset and said ‘NO!’
I knew he wasn’t ready. And I let it go.
Months later when he was going to the potty regularly on his own, my husband announced one day that he thought it would be cool for my son to wear underwear ‘like dad.’ That worked! He was proud to wear his big boy underwear.
He wore them during the day, and we would put a diaper on at night. After successfully keeping the diaper dry overnight, he switched to wearing his big boy underpants both day and night. That worked really well for him.
Every once in a while he’d ask to switch back to a diaper if we were going out and we would listen. Eventually he would say he was fine to keep his big boy underwear on.
I’m so glad we listened to him which I believe made him more confident. He’s never had an accident in public, although I still carry a spare pair of underpants and shorts for him.
Use Poop in diapers as learning opportunity:
Kids often learn to pee in the potty first before getting the ‘poop thing’ down. It might help to show your toddler where the poop goes by dumping it out of their diaper.
This enforces the idea of what’s supposed to happen as they’re learning to poop in the potty. We have even waved “bye bye” to the poop to show them it’s a good thing to go in the potty It makes it seem less scary to a little kid.
Teach by example:
Our kids watch us ALL the time. They imitate our behaviors (both good and bad!) and want to do what we do.
And all of you moms reading this know how we’re hardly ever left alone to go to the bathroom in peace!
You can use these opportunities to ‘clap for mom’ or give high fives when your kids follow you into the bathroom.
Go potty before leaving the house:
Before we leave the house, we always make sure the kids go to the potty (or at least try) before leaving the house. Even if they says they don’t need to go, we always say “that’s fine, just try please.”
Usually our son realizes he in fact DID need to go. These gentle reminders can help prevent accidents or at least spare you from hearing them say they need to go potty as soon as you get them buckled in the car!
Which of these potty training tips did you find most helpful? Let me know in the comments!
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