It seems that since I have successfully potty trained three kids to this point that I might be considered, in some circles, a "Pro." But it is here that I must interject that because every child is different, no two potty training experiences are the same, and therefore it doesn't matter how many times you have successfully conquered "the porcelain throne," everyone is a novice! I am reminded of this, EVERY time I brooch the subject of potty training with my youngest. When you consider a child's individual personality, their readiness, and then couple that with your own motivation (or lack thereof), you get the recipe for potty training. The key to a successful potty training recipe is making sure that you have balanced all of the ingredients.
What Motivates Your Child?
You know your child and their personality best. What get's them excited? What motivates them? For some the promise of a gold star sticker would do it. For others, like my oldest, the promise of a new dress was enticing bait. You could try introducing "big kid" underwear with their favorite characters, giving out an M&M, cheering your little one on, keeping a new toy on a high shelf, bribing them, begging them, tricking them, and tying them to the potty chair. Well, you probably shouldn't tie them to the chair.--although in the eighties, otherwise known by my mom as "the potty training decade," when she successfully potty trained five kids--we had a potty chair that had a tray over our laps so that we could sit and snack while we tried our best to make something happen. Because, you know, everyone likes to eat and drink while they are going to the bathroom.
I digress. What I'm trying to say is that you've got to find "the thing" that works for you and your child. Just because your son got excited about a new Thomas train doesn't mean the same thing will work for your daughter, who may be more motivated by singing a potty song and cheering wildly. I've tried a combination of things for all of my kids before settling on the one thing that really started to work for them.
Is Your Child Ready?
Just because your niece was fully potty trained at 18 months does not mean that your baby is ready at 18 months too. This is an area that I struggle with myself. It is sometimes daunting when you are scrolling through your Facebook feed to see that your friends with kids younger than yours are having potty training success while your own is still happily pooping her pants in the corner with a sippy cup in one hand and a toy in the other. Nothing brings out the Mommy-Eye-of-The-Tiger quite like seeing your best bud post "Little Jill hasn't had an accident in three days!" or "No more DIAPERS!" or "Potty Training is going great!"
Of course, I would never begrudge any parent and child their moment in the sun. Potty training is a HUGE deal, probably the toughest milestone to conquer, so success should be celebrated! But if we want to be successful in our own potty training ventures we MUST not compare our success or failure on what the neighbor kid is doing. The same thing can be said about comparing older siblings' potty training timing with a younger sibling.
Your child may be ready if they come to you and ask to be changed when they are wet or soiled. They may be ready if they show an interest in the toilet (Wiping themselves, flushing, washing hands). They may be ready if they are able to pull their diaper or pants on and off with little to no help from you. Or they might not be. I like introducing the potty early--without any expectation that the child would use it. Just to get the concept planted into their head.
For potty training to be successful, you've got to let your child take the lead. If they are showing no signs of interest in the potty then it might be best to wait a month or two before trying again.
Are You Ready?If you know what motivates your child and they are ready to give potty training (PT) a shot, the last key to success is your own motivation. Successful PT takes dedication, consistancy, and time. If you are not ready or able to give it your all then you cannot expect a smooth and easy experience.
I've struggled with dedication and thrown the potty training balance out of whack. Could any of my children been fully trained sooner had it not been for my lackluster efforts? Maybe so. I know it is difficult to manage a household and then add potty training into the mix. Potty training weeks are exhausting: Never ending trips to the toilet; cleaning up accidents; trying to stick to a bathroom schedule; keeping the machinery running by constantly refilling sippy cups; an increase is smelly, wet, dirty laundry; changing sheets; following through with rewards; staying positive in the face of discouraging results; and the fear of leaving the house and dealing with potty-training-on-the-go. If it seems like too much? That's because it IS a lot. But moms and dads and other care givers have been doing it for decades and we can do it too!
I want to tell you, that you don't have to be perfect at this! Kids will have accidents. You will forget to reset the timer. You will clean poop from a place where poop should not be. Don't let your distractions, frustrations, absentmindedness, and accidents keep you from trucking on in your efforts.
Some Things That Could Help
I love Alona Frankl's book Once Upon a Potty (there is a version for Girl and Boy). It is a good way to introduce the concept of "the potty" to your youngster. There is an App for Kindle Fire that allows your little one to interact with this story (it auto plays) and there's a cute potty song to listen to and sing along with. I've used the App to keep my little one seated on the potty for an extended period of time.
Get a timer. I use a simple timer app on my Kindle. You can use a timer on your phone, microwave, oven, alarm clock, or get one specifically for potty training. I start at 15 minute intervals and as my child had success I slowly increased the times by five minute intervals. A timer has been a MUST for me. Otherwise, I completely loose track of time and then everything goes to...well...literally...crap. Also, check your app store for potty training apps. I've heard that there are some pretty good ones with interactive timer features (like calling your toddler on the phone when it is time to "go"), but since my phone has zero space on it, I haven't been able to download one to try for myself.
Character Underwear. Generally, I am not a fan of clothing with characters on it. I usually try to contain the "character wear" to pajamas. But when it comes to potty training, character wear is A-Okay by me! My kids get really excited about characters on their underwear and I use it to my advantage by making claims and commands like: "Merida doesn't like to get pee-pee on her," or "Don't poop on Mickey. He wouldn't like that." Our little ones don't want to let their favorite characters down. The only downside to this is that sometimes your kids can't help it and they will have an accident right on their hero. And then there might be a melt down...so use your own discretion and try to keep things positive.
|Are You "Brave" Enough?|
It's okay to STOP. If you cannot remain positive during the potty training experience, it is okay to stop. It is better to stop. There is a limit to the number of accidents one can clean up with a smile and if there is little to no success during a day--then maybe you need to re-evaluate whether or not your child, and you, are actually ready for potty training. The minute you begin to feel frustrated and start to loose your cool, take a break. Try again tomorrow, or next week, or next month. Take a break until you are again smiling about the prospect of diaper-free days.
Share your suggestions, tips, tricks, frustrations, and successes in the comments below so that we can thank you, cheer you on, or commiserate.
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