From the second you become a parent potty training is one of those first things you both dread and look forward to – at least look forward to the results of. When the time starts to approach there are so many more things to consider and questions you tend to have. “Am I pushing the child too soon? Do I let them go at their own pace and follow their lead? Do I (the parent) continue to work or do I take the week off?”
Truth is – there is not just one way to go about it. Each child is different. Boys vs girls. Oldest, the middle child and youngest – each child tends to go at their own pace and their own style. Having a laid back mindset going into it will help you as a parent to work through this new, exciting and terrifying time with your child.
Five tips to help you get started:
- Children become interested in using the potty for many different reasons, but mostly they get curious when they see their parents or siblings use the toilet and want to imitate them. When your child starts showing interest, use that to your advantage and see if you can get them involved in trying for themselves – most kids will jump for the opportunity to be a “big kid”. Encourage them with a potty their own size and books about using the potty to get them more interested in the idea.
- Find ways to get your child involved in good bathroom habits such as washing their hands. I can’t tell you how many times kids have asked me “If I go potty, can I wash my hands?” Of course, my answer is always “YES!” I’ve seen it be an encouragement to the children to try and use the potty themselves while developing good bathroom habits.
- Having easy to pull down and pull up clothes helps to set your child up for success in those early stages of learning to read their own body. Little ones also get super excited about special character underwear. You can find almost any character – whether it be princesses or monster trucks – on toddler size underwear these days. Kids don’t like seeing their new underwear get messy so they tend to be more inclined to make it to the potty instead of spoiling their new, special undies.
- I encourage my parents to use a star chart in the bathroom, not just for the child but for them as well. When a child goes potty they get a star and they earn their stars to go do something fun later on that week. Parents know their children best and know what will work to encourage them. I also have encouraged the parents to use the star chart for themselves. The idea is that when the parent goes potty, celebrates and gets to put a star on their chart the child will want to do the same and earn a star as well. May seem silly at first, but can be very effective.
- Expect accidents. Try to not making bathroom time stressful and punishing the child for having accidents. We, as the adults, need to be prepared with fresh clothes, and an attitude of no blame and no shame as the child is learning this new way of taking care of themselves. It takes time, patience and loads of encouragement to keep trying, even when things don’t go as planned.
Some children get the knack very quickly, while others take a little bit longer to warm up to the idea. Take a deep breath, try to relax, and understand that your child will grasp the concept as soon as they are ready. It’s exciting to watch them grow and develop as they learn to conquer new goals and concepts!