Potty training poses many challenges, but it also represents a milestone for your child. Between me and my sisters, we’ve gone through potty training over a dozen times. Here are several ideas that we’ve implemented over the years and they’ve all been quite effective.
you’re getting ready to potty train your child, or have been trying
without much success, please try these ideas. And please let me know if
you do use them and how they worked for you. I’d love to hear from you.
Wait for signs of readiness, where your child:
• lets you know he has to go or is going;
• can pull his pants up and down;
• has interest in the potty;
• finds the idea of wearing big kid underwear appealing;
• has regular bowel movements about the same time everyday.
Put a potty in the bathroom some time before your child is ready to use it, and let him know it’s there when he wants to try it out.
Dress your child in easy-to-manage clothes without buttons, snaps, or zippers. Pants with elastic waistbands make pulling them up and down for going to the bathroom much easier.
Start changing your child’s diaper in the bathroom so he begins to make the association. When he has a bowel movement, have him watch you empty the contents into the toilet.
Times to try the potty:
• first thing after waking up;
• before a nap or bedtime;
• ten to fifteen minutes after meals or snacks;
• whenever you notice your child tugging at his clothes or shifting from foot to foot, point it out to him and say it’s time to use the potty.
Pay attention to when your child has a bowel movement during the day. If you know when to anticipate his needs, you can help him make it to the bathroom on time.
Have your child flush the toilet a few times to get used to the sound.
To build comfort with the potty, have your child sit there at first clothed, checking it out.
If you haven’t already, give your child names to use for urination and bowel movements—making sure they’re names you feel comfortable hearing him announce in public.
Reinforce for your child the fact that being dry feels more comfortable than being wet.
Buy him underwear. While comfort and absorbency are more important than looks, being able to wear underwear with his favorite character on it may offer a powerful motivation for your child to stay dry.
If you have warm days and some privacy in your backyard, strip your child and let him run around bottomless. Bring the potty outside, and when he starts to go, put him on the potty.
Bring your child along when you go to the bathroom. He will be eager to imitate you and less frightened by the prospect of using the adult toilet.
Make a weekend or vacation intensive training tim.e Turn it into a game, and prepare your child beforehand. Let him spend the weekend naked, though the most important part is that he not wear diapers. Follow him around during the day and watch for need-to-go cues. When you see them, tell him “go potty,” and bring him to the potty.
Save a book or a toy that your child only gets to read or play with while on the potty or toilet. If he doesn’t go within five minutes, let him run off to play and agree to try later.
Run water in the sink or bathtub for inspiration.
Use small rewards , such as stickers, pennies, or M&Ms for successful trips to the bathroom.
Ue baby wipes instead of toilet paper while your child learns how to wipe himself.
Put a little water in the potty before you child uses it to make cleanup easier.
Keep the potty in the bathroom, or somewhere that’s easy to clean if your child gets off the potty before he’s done or doesn’t quite make it there.
If you start with a potty, you may ave to retrain your child on the big toilet. Have him use the regular toilet from time to time so he is not afraid of using adult toilets when away from home. Or start with a potty seat on top of the toilet seat. Provide him with a stepping stool so he can climb on and ff easily.
If your child is fearful of using the big toilet, turn him to face the back of the toilet This way, he straddles the toilet with his legs.
Add red or blue food coloring to the toilet bowl. Your child’s urine will change it to orange or green. Challenge him to see what happens when he pees into the water.
Whenever your child has an accident, comment on ti without judgement, such as “It’s okay. You just had an accident. Let’s change you,” and then clean it up together.
If your child resists potty training, stop for a week or so to avoid a power struggle.
Accept that setbacks are common, especially when your child feels exhausted, sick, under stress, or faces a major life change such as a new sibling or a move.
Practice with your child what to do at nighttime if he wakes up and must go to the bathroom. Leave on enough lights to enable him to easily make it out of his room, down the hallway, into the bathroom, and onto the toilet.
Expect your child to have accidents at night for a few months after he’s potty trained during the day. Continue with an overnight diaper or training pants until your child stays dry all night consistently.
Double sheets and waterproof liners on the mattress for easy middle-of-the-night changes, or leave your child a sleeping bag and clean set of pajamas to slip into after he has wet the bed.
Cut down on how much your child drinks during and after dinnertime.
Make using the bathroom the last part of your nighttime routine.
Wake your child to use bathroom before you go to sleep, unless he has trouble falling bak to sleep.
Have your child select a new set of sheets or pajamas an an incentive to stay dry.
Swap one-piece sleepers for two-piece pajamas to make going to the bathroom at night easier.
Discuss the issue and potential solutions with your pediatrician. she may recommend a urine alarm, which is a device that goes off when urine hits the mattress, as a way of conditioning your child to wake up if he needs to go the bathroom.
Give it time. As your child matures, his ability to hold his bladder or to wake to use the toilet will improve.
On the Road
Make a habit of visiting bathrooms whenever you go out, to familiarize your child with the concept that everyone use the toilet and to make him comfortable with the idea of going to the bathroom in a public place.