Potty training is a major milestone for parents and little ones. The secret sauce? Timing and patience. Embark on this journey by getting the facts on timing, technique, and handling accidents through these easy steps.
Is it Time?
A child knows when they are ready so let their motivation lead the way. Your child's readiness hinges on physical, behavioral, and developmental milestones, not age. Their readiness is demonstrated with some of these readiness signs, including:
Discomfort when diapers are wet or soiled
Interest in imitating toilet behavior
Dryness at scheduled changing times
Communicating when they need to go potty
Gaining control of sphincter muscles
Putting pants on and off with very little assistance
Putting on shoes and taking them off
Ready, Set, Go!
The process of toilet training can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Control during sleep is usually achieved in about six months after daily control is established. When your child shows readiness, follow these steps:
Consistently use underwear, but remember that nap or nighttime training usually takes longer to achieve (disposable training pants / diapers and mattress covers is perfectly fine to use at the onset when your child sleeps).
Schedule potty breaks - Invite your child to use the toilet or go to the restroom every 30 minutes including first thing in the morning and right after naps. Refusals are accepted and respected. Although you should let them know, the toy/game they are playing with will be saved while they go to the restroom.
Set an audible timer on your phone or with a kitchen timer for a set increment. When it goes off, excitedly say “POTTY TIME.” Have child re-set timer and then go potty. This will give them ownership of going potty instead of a caregiver telling them to go.
Encourage other children with control to model toilet behavior
Lend positive verbal support when the child is successful or “nice try!”
Accidents are inevitable and part of the process. With an unsuccessful attempt, refrain from using words that could make the child feel at fault or punished. If they have an accident you can say “Where does our potty go? In the toilet, right? Let’s try next time.”
Create a sticker chart or reward system where they get one every time they use the toilet or even try to use the toilet (in the beginning stages). The reward system attached to toilet learning is natural, motivating and most effective. The reward is a positive feeling that comes from having done a difficult task successfully. The child leaves the experience with increased knowledge, independence, self-control, motivation, and confidence.
If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn't getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break. Chances are they may not be ready yet. Pushing your child when he or she isn't ready can lead to a frustrating power struggle. Try again in a few months. If you have questions about potty training or your child is having difficulties, talk to your child's doctor. He or she can give you guidance and check to see if there's an underlying problem.
For information on how to keep your parent game strong 💪, see Parent Pointers, a series of helpful articles, tips, and ideas.
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