Tips to Make Potty Training Easier
The toddler years come with many milestones, one of the biggest of which is potty training. While every tot goes through this rite of passage, the switch from diapers to the toilet is often full of obstacles, from accidents to outright refusal. Learning how to make potty training easier means you can stop buying diapers and start celebrating success with your toddler.
Having the right tools handy when working on how to potty train your kid is crucial. A potty chair is often less scary than the big toilet, and your child can easily sit on it without help. Your child can keep his feet firmly on the ground while using the potty with this option.
Putting your child in underwear instead of using a pull-up style diaper may help speed up potty training. Regular underwear lets your child feel the wetness if he does have an accident. The feeling of underwear is also completely different from diapers, and that different feeling may remind him he is no longer wearing diapers and needs to use the potty.
Set up the potty chair in a convenient spot where he spends a lot of time. If he sees the potty, it helps remind him to use it. That easy access also increases the chances of him getting to the potty in time to actually use it.
Give your child a chance to play with the potty chair before he takes it for a test-run. It’s something new and interesting. Getting a close-up look at the chair makes him feel more comfortable with it and may encourage him to try it. If he’s not quite ready to use it to go potty, encourage him to sit on the potty chair with his clothes on. Eventually, encourage him to sit on the potty chair without clothes, even if he doesn’t do anything while he’s there.
Keep the Timeline Flexible
It’s easy to get caught up in milestones and deadlines for achieving those milestones, especially when you hear other parents bragging about their advanced tots who kicked the diaper habit early. The best thing you can do for yourself and your child is to block out all that noise. Who cares if the neighbor’s toddler nailed potty training at 18 months? Following your child’s lead makes potty training easier, whether he’s an early bloomer or still unprepared to take the leap.
There is no make-or-break deadline for being potty trained. Some kids simply aren’t interested or aren’t developmentally ready for potty training at an early age. Sure, you’ll need to buy diapers or wash your cloth ones a little longer, but, in the long run, the process is much easier on you if your toddler is ready. If you push your child too soon, potty training typically takes longer than it would had you waited.
Daytime potty training typically takes two to three months to master when you consistently work on it with your child. Nighttime bladder control can take several months longer. In some cases, nighttime mastery can take a year or longer.
Why should you wait a little longer before working on potty training? Holding off on potty training can save you time. If you constantly take your child to the bathroom to get her to use the toilet, you waste a lot of time, especially if she resists. It’s stressful to beg, plead and bribe your child into potty training when she’s not ready. Save yourself the stress by waiting a while and trying again. You can also reduce resistance from your child by waiting. If you try to force your child to potty train too soon, she may resist even more.
Look for Signs of Readiness
Since you can’t base potty training on age alone, look for other clues to decide when to potty train. Signs of potty training readiness include:
- Interest in the toilet or potty training chair
- Interest in wearing underwear
- Ability to stay dry for at least two hours at a time
- Complaints about wet or soiled diapers
- Ability to express the need to use the bathroom through words, gestures or facial expressions
- Ability to follow basic directions
- Coordination to sit on toilet and get up from the toilet
- Predictable bowel movements
- Ability to pull pants up and down
- Sense of independence
- Pride in doing things
- Generally cooperative
You don’t need to wait until your child shows all the signs of readiness to start potty training, but when you can check off a majority of the signs, don’t be afraid to start. If your child only shows one or two signs or none at all, you may face more potty training challenges.
Pinpoint the Issue
If it seems obvious that your child is ready but issues persist, there are some things to consider. Not all potty issues are the same. Instead of just waving the white flag, take a closer look at what’s going on. Does your child avoid the toilet at all costs? Does he use the toilet to urinate but not for bowel movements? Does he fail to stay dry at nap time or at night? When you narrow down the problem time, you can focus your efforts.
When figuring out how to teach potty training, consider these common potty training problems and tips to overcome them:
- Fear of the toilet. Refusal to use the toilet sometimes stems from a fear of the toilet itself. Perhaps your child feels too high off the ground or worries about falling into the toilet. Other kids are scared of the loud sounds. A potty chair offers a child-friendly way to go potty without some of the scary aspects of a full-size toilet. You can also dump the contents of his diaper into the toilet so your tot can see it going down.
- Refusal to use the toilet for bowel movements. As frustrating as it is for you, toddlers refusing to have a bowel movement on the toilet is quite common. Many toddlers urinate on the toilet but wait until they are wearing a diaper to have a bowel movement. This is often a sign your child isn’t emotionally ready for full potty training. Instead of punishing or scolding your child, acknowledge she noticed the signs of needing to poop. Encourage her to stand in the bathroom to poop in her diaper as a way to slowly work up to pooping on the toilet.
- General refusal. Sometimes, you don’t know why your child refuses to use the toilet. A general resistance often means your child simply isn’t ready. Continue giving your child the chance to use the potty in a low-pressure way. Explaining what you want him to do in a positive tone can be encouraging.
- Engaged in play. Some kids get so caught up in the things they’re doing they forget to pay attention to the signs of needing to go to the bathroom. When your child is caught up in play, remind her at regular intervals to try sitting on the toilet.
- Inability to stay dry while sleeping. Staying dry at night and during naptime often take longer for toddlers to master. Reduce the risk of accidents by having your child go potty right before sleep times.
- Regression. Sometimes kids learn to use the toilet only to later regress back to having accidents or needing diapers. This often happens during times of stress, such as moving, sickness, adding a new baby to the family or transitioning to a regular bed. A little time and a lot of patience often helps your child get through this period.
Reinforce the Behavior
When trying to figure out how to speed up the potty training process, focus on reinforcing the steps in the right direction instead of scolding your child. Acting disappointed, forcing her when she refuses, yelling at her or punishing her for problems causes shame and leaves your child feeling bad.
Instead, focus on the positive aspects of her actions to build up her confidence and encourage her to continue those behaviors. When you talk about potty training, don’t tell her she needs to start acting like a big girl instead of a baby. Tell her you know she’s ready and old enough to handle going on the potty. If she has an accident, let her know it’s okay instead of getting mad about it.
Positive language goes a long way toward encouraging your toddler to use the toilet, but additional incentives can help speed up the process and keep your tot motivated. Some parents swear by candy as a potty training incentive but keep in mind the potential effects. If your child only focuses on the sweet reward, she may get upset when she doesn’t earn them. The candy also teaches her to reward herself with sweets, which is an unhealthy habit to start.
Stickers or special activities offer a healthier reward option. Toddlers love seeing shiny stickers on a chart. Rewards might include things like extra cuddle time before bed or a stop at a favorite park. Each child respond to rewards and incentives differently. Think about the things that make your toddler tick, and adjust the potty training incentives as needed until you find something that appeals to your child.
Potty Training for Boys
When you potty train a boy, you have the question of standing up versus sitting down to urinate. In general, it’s easier to start the process with your son sitting down to urinate. Choose a potty chair with a urine guard to contain urine while in the sitting position. Once he can handle urinating while sitting down and he consistently uses the toilet for bowel movements, you can teach him to stand up to urinate.
Potty Training for Girls
Potty training a girl is relatively straightforward. One important skill to teach your daughter is how to wipe correctly. Teach her to start at the front and wipe toward the back. This prevents germs from being wiped into the vagina, where it can cause an infection.
Help Your Child Relax
One of the best potty training methods for kids is to help your child get comfortable and relax on the toilet. Tension and stress can sometimes make it more difficult for your child to actually let go. Help him find a comfortable position on the potty chair. Let him play with a toy or read a book while he sits on the toilet. Staying in the bathroom with your child also helps him relax during potty breaks.
Additional Tips for Potty Training
Potty training for kids comes with its challenges, but you can ease the stress by the way you handle the obstacles. Smooth the transition with these tips:
- Choose potty-training friendly clothes. Preventing accidents often comes down to getting to the potty fast enough. Help your child with this aspect by choosing clothes that are easy to get up and down, such as elastic-waist pants. Skip anything with buttons, snaps or drawstrings.
- Watch for signs. Part of the potty training process is learning to identify the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom. Help your child make the connection by watching for outward signs of needing to go to the bathroom, such as dancing around, squirming, grunting, squatting and touching the genital area. If you see your child doing any of his telltale potty moves, quickly encourage her to sit on the potty.
- Create a routine. Young kids often thrive on routine. Create some consistency by having a potty time routine. Include washing hands after going to the bathroom as part of the routine to teach basic hygiene skills.
- Choose underwear together. Some kids are very excited about wearing big-kid underwear. Take your child to the store to pick out some fun character underwear to use when potty training. Wearing that special underwear may encourage your child to potty train.
- Expect setbacks. Potty training isn’t a seamless process. Expect your child to have accidents and setbacks so you are prepared to handle the incidents calmly and without anger.
- Take breaks when needed. If your child refuses to use the toilet or shows signs he isn’t quite ready, don’t be afraid to take a break. Give him a few days, a few weeks or even a few months to develop the readiness skills he needs to tackle potty training.
- Customize your approach. Learning how to encourage potty training takes some experimentation. The best ways to potty train vary from one child to the next. Testing out different methods and motivators helps you customize the potty training routine.
- Go naked. Let your child run around naked for a little while if it helps master the toilet.
- Consider timing. Start potty training when you can devote a chunk of time to the task. Avoid starting the training when a big life change is coming up, such as a move or the birth of a sibling. This creates additional stress that can make potty training more challenging.
- Work with daycare providers. If your child goes to daycare, work with the providers to create consistency in the potty training routine between home and daycare. Using similar techniques and practices helps your child master the skill.
Potty training can be challenging, but finding the perfect day care situation for your toddler is easy with Aa to Zz. Our centers provide loving care with engaging, developmentally appropriate activities to stimulate your child’s learning and growth. Check out our eight locations to find one close to your home or office. When you’re ready to learn more, fill out our Contact Us form, and we’ll respond quickly.