If you’re just starting to think about potty training but haven’t started yet, I recommend reading Part 1 here. If you’re in the throes and looking for some new tips and advice, then please, do carry on.
So now that you’ve set your date, picked out underwear and a potty and read all the books and seen all the movies about going potty, it’s time to begin!!
- Make the first day in big kid underwear a special day. We blow up some balloons and make it like a party for the child learning to potty. Make the day about him or her so he/she feels special.
- Put the diapers away. I suggest moving them out of sight so your child doesn’t think diapers are an option.
- Dress your child in just a shirt and underpants. No pants. No sock either. Believe me, you will only end up washing 15 pairs of pants that day. If it’s winter, crank up the heat in the house if you’re afraid your child will be cold. I actually know some parents that forgo the underpants too and let the child go “commando”. We didn’t do this, but I hear it makes the child more aware of their “nether-region”, if you will, and more in tune with when they feel potty coming. Hey, whatever works.
- Give the child lots of liquids. The more they have to pee the more chances there are for them to use the potty correctly. And the more times they get it right, the more motivated they’ll be to do it again and again. Our kids only drink milk and water, so when they train we let them have a special treat of lemonade (watered down a bit). They’ll drink the heck out of it and will have to pee literally every 20 minutes.
- Be sure the potty is in an easily accessible place. Our bathroom is just right down a short hall from our main living area so we keep ours there. If your bathroom is farther away consider putting the potty near your living or play space. Placing it on hardwood or tile is prefered because the mess is much easier to wipe up a hard surface than carpet.
- Ask your child every 15 or 20 minutes if they have to go potty. When they first start out they don’t always know to tell you when they have to go. They may not even realize they have to. If you continually ask them they’ll realize they do and you can get them to the potty before they have an accident.
- If they do have an accident, do not scold or punish them. But I personally also don’t recommend making it seem like having an accident is okay either. I just tell my kids something like “Oops, I see you forgot to sit on the potty to go pee-pee. Let’s try to remember to do that next time, since that’s where our pee-pee goes, okay?”
- When they do have a successful potty, praise the bejeezus out of them. Tell them how proud you are, how they should be proud of themselves, even sing some songs or do a cheer or call their grandparents or whatever you want to show them how excited you are that they went in the potty.
- Also when they have a successful potty, reward them with something. We used to use a combination of M&Ms, Hershey Kisses, chocolate chips, and/or stickers. For Carlie we made a potty star chart where after she went 10 times she got to pick out a prize (from a bag of trinkety stuff I got from cereal boxes or at the dollar aisle at Target.) We never needed that with Maddie since she trained in one day. I don’t usually like to use food as a reward, but our kids don’t get candy or chocolate very much so it was a great motivator.
- I recommend putting a diaper on for nap and bedtime. Just explain to your child that diapers are for bedtime so they don’t have an accident in their bed. They’ll get it. And if you notice after some time the child’s diaper is dry when they get up from their nap, try putting them down in underwear (perhaps line the bed with some plastic so you don’t end up with a mess on your hands). Just be sure to put them on the potty immediately after getting up from nap.
- My opinion: Pull-Ups are a waste. Kids are smart, they get that they’re just glorified diapers. And they will go potty in them. So if your kid won’t go potty outside of your home, just put her in diapers when you go out. They’re much cheaper than pull-ups. If your kid decides she wants to use the potty when you’re out, it’s not that hard to take off a diaper in a bathroom. Just explain to the child that until they’re ready to go potty when you’re out they will have to go back to diapers when you leave the house.
Remember that patience is the key. It can be soooooo frustrating when your kid has accident after accident after accident. I suggest trying for three to four days at least.
If after four days or so your kid still doesn’t seem to get the hang of it, quit for now and try again in a few months. You could continue and have a kid who is half-potty trained running around. But in my opinion it just creates a lot of extra effort (and frustration!) for you and it might be confusing (and frustrating!) to your child. If training is not 85% successful (see, I’m using percents again!), it’s back to diapers until a later date. Then try the process all over again.
I hope you enjoyed my information on potty training. Like I said, we may just have a lot of luck with good girls who were easy to train. Or maybe it was our technique. Either way, I hope some of these tips are helpful to you if potty training is something you have in your present or future.