Your child is approaching age two, and you’re frustrated with endless diapers and wipes. But your child doesn’t seem interested in using the toilet. Plus, you’re worried that if you take the diapers away, he’ll have an accident at daycare.
Potty training is not for the faint of heart. Each child reacts differently to the process. Here are some tips for potty training your child—choose the ones that will work best for you.
1. Don’t Rush
Many parents are anxious to ditch the diapers as soon as possible, but they don’t pay attention to their child’s readiness. To determine whether your child is ready for potty training, look for these signs:
- He or she dirties his or her diaper at similar times each day.
- He or she has a dry diaper for two hours at a time.
- He or she has basic motor skills and can remove his or her own clothing.
- He or she reacts positively towards the idea of using the toilet.
- He or she is able to tell you when he or she needs to pee or poop.
Remember, there is no “magic age” when you should start toilet training. Every child is different. Some children are ready as early as 22 months, while others aren’t ready until age 2½. Pay attention to the above signs in your child. Keep talking positively about using the toilet and wait for your child to respond.
Don’t worry if your child seems to be doing okay at first, but then backtracks. Stress and change can make potty training difficult for some children. Just keep being patient and your child will soon use the toilet consistently.
2. Use Rewards
Are you motivated to work harder at your job because you’ll receive a bonus or raise? Kids are much the same. Desiring positive rewards for good behavior is just part of human nature.
Here are some ideas for rewarding your child:
- Keep a jar of M&Ms in the bathroom. Your child gets one each time he or she uses the toilet, and another each time he or she wipes.
- Offer your child a trip or a new toy once he or she uses the toilet 10 times in a row.
- Put a new sticker on your child’s chart each time he or she uses the toilet.
3. Read Potty Books
If your child is taking a while to warm up to the idea of using the toilet, try reading books about characters who use the toilet. Familiar characters and interesting stories will help your child feel more comfortable. Some popular books include:
- The Potty Train by David Hochman and Ruth Kennison: Join the kids in their train journey to Underpants Station.
- Even Firefighters Go to the Potty by Wendy Wax and Naomi Wax: This fun lift-the-flap book teaches kids that everyone uses the potty.
- Have You Seen My Potty? by Mij Kelly: Kids will laugh at Suzy Sue’s search for her potty.
4. Make It Fun
Yelling and threatening can only go so far—not far at all. Instead, try making toilet training exciting for your child. Here are some ideas:
- Provide your child his or her own colorful toilet or toilet seat.
- Set a watch or timer to play songs every so often to remind your child to go.
- Dye the toilet water red or blue; your child can watch it turn orange or green when they go potty.
5. Try, Try Again
Sometimes getting your child to use the toilet is as simple as taking him or her to the bathroom regularly. Pay attention to how often your child wets his or her diaper. Use this time frame to guide how often you bring your child to the bathroom and have him or her sit on the toilet. Even if she doesn’t go every time, she’ll at least get the idea of a regular toilet routine.
6. Involve Caregivers
If your child spends a lot of time at daycare or at a family member’s house, keep his or her caregivers informed about his potty training progress. Caregivers may have their own preferred method of potty training kids, such as making them each take turns sitting on the toilet at scheduled times during the day. You may want to adopt some of these methods to maintain consistency for your child.
If you use a special reward system for your child at home, discuss with his or her caregivers whether they can use the same system. However, keep in mind that the caregivers want to treat all kids equally; if they give one kid a sticker each time he goes potty, other kids will want a sticker as well.
Inform the caregivers of your child’s progress, and don’t send her to daycare in underwear until you’re sure she’s ready. Send some diapers or backup underwear with her as well, just in case.
Not all of these tips work for every child. Choose the ones that work for you, and enjoy the potty training experience!