All parents look forward to the day when there are no more diapers to change. And getting to that point can be a long and stressful road, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several things that parents can do to assure that the road to potty training is as smooth as possible. The most important thing to remember is that it is going to take time and patience and needs to be handled in the most positive way.
How do you know when to start?
The question of when to start potty training has always been a debate among parents. Some say that the answer is a specific age and some say that it’s based on certain milestones that must be reached first. But every child is different and some children are just easier to potty train than others, plain and simple. Some children can be completely potty trained by age 2, while others are still struggling at age 4. The key to successful potty training seems to be timing. The best way to tell if your child is ready to start potty training is to take ‘inventory.’ Here are some questions that you can ask yourself and if the answers to these questions are all ‘yes’ then your child is most likely ready to start down that road.
Is the number of wet diapers that you are changing during the day decreasing? If yes, this means that your child is developing a fair amount of bladder control and that is a good sign.
Can you tell when your child is about to ‘go potty’ in their diaper? Children will begin to demonstrate certain signals, such as going off by themselves, crouching down, or even telling you that they are going or are about to go. This is another good sign because it will make setting up a potty routine easier and it says that they are aware of the ‘felling’ of needing to go.
Does your child complain about wearing a wet or dirty diaper? Children will become aware of the fact that their diaper is wet or dirty and will even start to ask to be changed. This is the best sign of all. The fact that they are uncomfortable enough in a soiled diaper to complain means that they are as ready as you are to start the potty training journey.
Let’s get this Potty Party Started
Start by getting a ‘kid size’ potty and placing it in the bathroom. That sounds easy enough, right? Now all you have to do is get them to start using it. Chances are your child already follows you into the bathroom every time that you go, so why not capitalize on that opportunity? The next time you go into the bathroom and they follow you, have them sit on their potty too. In fact, it is a good idea to encourage them to sit on their potty anytime they want to. You can even have a couple of books next to their potty for them to look at while they are there to help increase the amount of time they are willing to sit on the potty if necessary. The main thing is to get them used to sitting on it and dissolve any fears they may have. Your child may or may not even use the potty to first couple of times that they sit on it, but getting them to sit on it the first goal. So remember to praise them for sitting on it and make it a positive experience.
Another thing that you can do is switch to ‘pull up’ type diapers instead of regular diapers. This will help to reinforce the ‘we don’t go in our diaper’ way of thinking and will transition them into wearing regular underwear. It is also easier for them to start pulling up and down by themselves as they progress into going on the potty. Now your challenge is to pay attention to your child and look for the signals that they may need to go to the potty. Then encourage them to drink liquids as you normally would and ask them every 20 minutes if they need to go. This is a great way to set them up to succeed and that is what they need at this point, opportunities to go and use their little potty. When they finally do start going on the potty and using it, make sure to praise them and keep it positive.
Boys vs. Girls
Some people believe that potty training girls is easier than potty training boys. I guess the idea is that girls only have to learn one thing, sit down and go. Whereas boys have to learn to both sit and stand when using the potty and let’s face it, the idea of that to parents seems scary. I have a son; he is 8 years old. Way back when we were potty training him, we started him sitting down for everything on the potty. Everything was going fine, but he noticed right away that dad did not always sit on the potty. My husband gave him some instructions and every time after that my son was standing to pee. Although, I was grateful that he had mastered another step in the process, I underestimated the amount of clean up that comes with that step.
Although we have only the best intentions and the highest hopes for potty training, we have to face the fact that not everything we try will work. The idea is to try to avoid the point of frustration and the point where the child refuses to use the potty at all. So, how do we do that? First, and foremost, keep it positive. When accidents happen, and they will, it is not the end of the world. Don’t scold them or punish them. Tell them that they will do better next time and move on. As they progress through the process of potty training, so must you. It will not always be necessary to ask them every 20 minutes if they need to go and you may need to start giving them ‘privacy’ when they go to the potty by waiting outside the bathroom by the door for them. Just remember that this is an important lesson for them and will not only build trust between you and your child, but it can also boost their own confidence.