What are two words that can strike as much fear into a parent’s heart as the phrase “terrible twos?” Try potty training. Parents of toddlers everywhere just cringed, and parents who have older kids probably grimaced at the memory of having potty train their boys and girls. But teaching your child how to use a potty doesn’t have to be traumatizing, for you or your little boy or girl. Here are ten helpful tips that will hopefully have you saying goodbye to diapers in no time at all.
Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Chances are, we’ve all done it before. Maybe it was to keep a child quiet on an airplane, or in church. But if you keep the prize small, like your child’s favorite snack, for example, bribery gives your child an incentive to use the potty. This would work especially if your toddler is timid or nervous about approaching or using the potty initially.
The first time my daughter successfully used the potty, I danced around our living room. She was so amused by it, the next time she had to go, she asked if I’d do the dance again if she went on the potty. If it takes me making a fool of myself in my own home to encourage her potty training, so be it. When your child successfully uses the potty, praise them. Give them high fives, hugs, kisses, the works. A little extra love goes a long way.
Target Practice for Boys
Getting little boys to aim properly is a struggle for many parents. Here’s a useful tip: drop about 4 Cheerios into the potty or toilet, and have him “shoot the cheerios.” By turning it into a game, you’ll be focusing his attention to getting as much in the toilet as possible, and taking his attention away from redecorating your bathroom walls and floor.
Draw a progress chart on a large piece of paper and hang it up near or in the bathroom. For ever successful potty session, give your child a sticker they can place on the chart. Once the chart is full, you can reward them with a small surprise.
Teach By Example
By letting your child watch you using the toilet, you’re taking the fear factor out of the equation. You are their best role model, and if they see that you don’t get sucked down into the toilet when it flushes, then they can relax knowing they won’t either. Plus, what child doesn’t want to be like mommy or daddy at this age?
Potty Only Toys
Set up a special basket of toys specifically for potty use. This can be some books, crayons and paper, anything you know will be a comfort for your child and help them to relax. This is especially handy for children who are afraid to go #2. Helping them relax and being comfortable will make them less likely to hold it in fear.
Explaining the Process
No doubt you’ve heard the millionth “why” come out of your toddler’s mouth. That’s not just their way of slowly driving you crazy, although that may be what it feels like. They’re learning about the world around them, how things work, why things happen, and their brains are like sponges, soaking in your answers. Use this to your advantage by explaining the how’s and whys of using the potty. There are literally tons of books for kids on the subject. They will be more likely to use it once they understand all about it.
The Potty Watch
If you find your child forgets to use the potty when he or she is wearing underwear, you may want to set a reminder. You can use a kitchen timer, setting it to ring every hour, and when they hear it they know it is potty time. A cool way to remind them is the Potty Watch. It’s a watch you can set to 30, 60, or 90 minute intervals. When the time is up, it plays a song to remind your toddler it’s time to go.
Be warned: this is not for the faint of heart. Take a few days and stay in the house. Change your toddler into underwear – no diaper – and about every hour, try them on the potty. If they have an accident, chances are, they will. It’s important that you do not scold them. They will be uncomfortable as it is, and the next time they feel the urge to go, they will probably be telling you it is potty time.
It’s normal for accidents to happen during this process. As frustrated as you may feel, your toddler is twice as frustrated and confused. It’s scary not knowing why they can’t go in their diaper anymore, and it’s scary for them to realize there are things coming out of them like that. It is incredibly important to have as much patience, compassion, and encouragement for your children as they reach this milestone in their development.