Potty training is a huge step for both child and parent...one you've probably been waiting one for a long time! Done right, your little one will soon be one step closer to independence and you will be one step closer to saying goodbye to diapers forever! Done wrong, and you both end up feeling tired, frustrated, and ready to throw in the towel.
So, how do you do it RIGHT? Read on to find out...
First, make sure your child is really ready for this step. His bladder may not be fully mature until the age of two or even two and a half. Is he showing interest in using the bathroom like grown ups do? Or is it just wishful thinking on your part? To know if it's really time to give the potty a try, look for the following signs:
- He tells you he has to "pee" or "poop", and then he actually does it. This means he's learning the sensations associated with having to use the bathroom.
- He takes an interest when YOU use the potty.
- He begins complaining more when his diaper is wet or soiled. This may come about as verbally telling you he feels "wet" or "icky" or he may simply remove his dirty diaper himself when it doesn't feel good.
- So, after reading those signs, you still think he's ready to use the potty. Great. The next thing to do is actually buy the potty. This can mean a traditional potty chair that is made to be his size, or you can buy small inserts to put inside the big toilet so little bottoms can sit down without falling in. There is really no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing a potty. It all depends on the child. Some may enjoy a fancy chair with singing toilet and music that plays every time he tinkles. Others may be just as happy having you dance a little jig whenever he gets it right. It's entirely up to you.
Spend some time before actively training to let him get acquainted with the new potty. Take him to sit on it off and on throughout the day. If he happens to use it while he's there, great. Jump up and down and let him know how wonderful using the potty is. If he doesn't, don't be discouraged. The important thing is to get him comfortable with sitting on the potty so that when you do begin actually training he won't be afraid to sit down.
Once you've gotten him used to the potty, it's time to begin full fledged training! Time to toss out those diapers!
There is a bit of a debate among parents about which to use: disposable training pants like Pull-Ups, or regular underwear with rubber shorts. While either way will eventually get the job done, disposable options are really just glorified diapers disguised as underwear. You may be able to convince your child that they are for "big kids", but unless he can actually feel how unpleasant it is to wet himself, he may not have enough motivation to use the potty each and every time he has to go. For that reason, it is recommended that you use toddler underwear with rubber pants during the day and disposable training pants at night while you are training.
Once he gets the hang of daytime training with little to no accidents, you can take away the nighttime protection within the first year or so.
Congratulations on making it this far! The diapers are gone, and it's time to get down to business. Begin by explaining to him why his diapers are gone. Tell him that he is a big boy, and big boys wear underwear; not diapers. If he doesn’t seem enthused, tell him that you- daddy, big brother, cousin, superman or WHOEVER he looks up to- also wear underwear. This should get him a little more excited.
Take him to sit on the potty at least once every hour. When he uses it give him lots and lots of praise. Jump up and down. Clap and Cheer. Let him place a sticker on a “potty chart” to collect points for a prize. Whatever gets him excited about using his potty, give it a try!
Just be sure and remember that accidents are unavoidable during this process, and it's important for your own sanity and the sanity of your child that you understand and accept this fact from the start. Never yell, punish, or threaten him when he has an accident. Clean him off and let him know that he will get the hang of it next time.
You may also choose to cover certain furniture items like couches and mattresses while your child is still having frequent daily accidents.
The amount of time potty training will take varies greatly from child to child. On average, he should have the hang of it within a couple of weeks; with accidents becoming few and far between by the end of the first month. (Note: All children develop differently. Some kids may catch on much sooner or later than this and still be perfectly normal and healthy. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please consult his pediatrician for advice.) Occasional accidents are normal for several years, and they usually occur when the child attempts to hold himself in order to continue playing or when a bathroom is nowhere near.
Remember, stick to your guns and don't look back. Potty training is not an easy task, but a necessary one that will be well worth it in the end!