One subject that often exasperates parents is potty training. Our Toddler teachers are always giving helpful tips to weary parents in an effort to guide them through this seemingly endless struggle. So, because of the popularity of the subject we decided to add this article to the resource section of our website. Here are our best potty training secrets. Please let us know if you find this helpful.
Here are 10 tips for successful potty training. I have seen these applied over a period of days or weeks as well as over an intensive weekend. The length of time necessary for success depends more on the child and the program. Feel free to apply these ideas to your own situation and then let us know how it worked.
Potty Training Secrets: #1 – Count down the last package of diapers
If you have lived or worked with toddlers for any length of time, you know that they rarely turn on a dime when it comes to changes in activities, environments, or behaviors. A bit of advanced notice can be the key to gaining their cooperation. This is why we suggest declaring a “last package” of diapers and then counting down as you use them. This gives your toddler time to get used to the idea that things are going to change.
Potty Training Secrets: #2. Say things like, “You won’t have to wear diapers anymore!”
By phrasing the desired behavior as a “get to” and the undesired behavior as a “have to” you are subtly introducing the idea of the new behavior being “better” without fighting about it. Word power goes a long way, especially when you’re learning new ones every day. Also, even though they may fight for their independence, our children do want to emulate our values, so introducing change by clearly valuing the desired outcome will help you work some motivational mojo.
Potty Training Secrets: #3. Start on a three-day weekend
Whether you’re planning a sprint or a marathon, it’s good to start the process on a long weekend. This removes the time pressure of needing immediate success. Remember, children emulate us, so if we are stressed out by the process, they will be too. Let a long weekend can give you the space to stay cool and you stand a better chance of achieving your goal.
Potty Training Secrets: #4. Dress your child in loose-fitting pants like sweats with no diaper, pull-up, or underwear on
This is strategy. Every diaper commercial brags about how brand x keep wetness away from your child’s skin. When they are tiny and need diapers, this is a good thing. However, when they get older it’s good for them to associate going in their pants with feeling uncomfortable. Don’t worry, you’re not a bad parent, because you aren’t going to leave them to hang around in wet pants – remember you’re working this together. All you want is for your child to understand that wetting his or her pants is uncomfortable. This will begin to motivate him or her to see the potty as a solution and not a chore.
Potty Training Secrets: #5. Set a timer and try to go every hour
The key to any parenting venture is consistency. The more consistent we are as parents, the more responsive our children will be. Potty training is an excellent example of this principle. By taking a potty break every hour we are accomplishing two things. One, we are teaching our children to keep the need to potty in the back of their minds while they play, learn, and go about their day. Two, we are reducing the number of accidents that we’ll have to clean up.
Potty Training Secrets: #6. Eat lots of salty snacks and drink lots of liquid
There’s an old saying that says “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” It may be true, but you can salt his oats. One of the key elements to successful potty training is teaching our children to recognize the physical “gotta go” feeling. Eating salty snacks encourages drinking liquid. Drinking liquid encourages pottying. It also keeps the mood light and fun, because who doesn’t like eating snacks and drinking juice?
Potty Training Secrets: #7. Use high fives, stickers, a cheer, or a dance to celebrate
Create some way to celebrate each successful bathroom experience. Whatever motivates your child will work. My daughter loved books and going to the bookstore. Each time she used the bathroom successfully she earned a sticker. After so many stickers, she earned a trip to the bookstore and a book to take home. It really doesn’t matter how you celebrate as long as you do something. Children at that age need reinforcement and celebrating with them helps them to understand that you are in this with them. Teamwork goes a long way with toddlers.
Potty Training Secrets: #8. Stay inside and concentrate on keeping the potty schedule
As we’ve already discussed, consistency is everything. Phase one of the process, whether it takes a day or longer, is to learn to be consistent. Stay in one spot, set the timer, and stick to the hour schedule. This sets a foundation of consistency that you can build on. Without this foundation, you are much more likely to struggle frustrating you and your child.
Potty Training Secrets: #9. Venture outside for an hour in the afternoon
By adding some outside time we are teaching the children to be mindful of the need to potty regardless of where they are. We are also increasing the size of their potty-safe world and eliminating the boredom of staying inside. Be sure to carry the timer with you so as to remain consistent with your schedule.
Potty Training Secrets: #10. Take a short trip in the car and use a public restroom
Taking a trip in the car further widens the potty-safe world and also introduces your child to the concept of telling you when he or she has to potty. Take this opportunity to introduce your child to public restrooms. They can start learning good hygiene and safe practices when using public restrooms. Public restrooms also offer fun things you probably don’t have at home like automatic faucets, soap dispensers, and hand driers.
Once your child masters the basics, you can begin to further broaden the potty-safe world by going to Grandma’s or to a friend’s house and using the potty there. You can also relax the schedule from hourly to whenever you change activities. Develop the habit of pottying before you leave and when you return home, before and after nap, before and after meals, before bedtime and first thing in the morning. If you experience a relapse, simply return to the last phase you completed and gradually work forward.
Well, there you go. I hope these tips are helpful as you navigate the waters of potty training. Please leave comments to this post and share your thoughts. What has worked for you? Do you have any questions? Be a part of the discussion so that we can learn from one another.