Potty Training Help: When It’s Time!

Are you and your child ready?

“Potty training your child should not be a big deal. It should be something you approach with excitement and optimism.”    ~ Dr. D. Preston Smith


Child's potty seat and roll of toilet paper for potty training.

The perfect time to start potty training is .. when your child is ready!

The best potty training method for your child is .. the one that works!

Don’t compare your child to other children!

Our potty training help will you get started. First, remember that you know your child best. It’s useful to learn about various methods of training, and you may end up trying more than one technique. However, you should not let someone else (family, friends, mommy bloggers, etc.) tell you that you must do it a particular way or by a certain age. You will be discovering when your child is physically and emotionally ready to learn and which techniques work best for your child and your family.

So – are YOU ready to begin?

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you have a comfortable family routine and no big changes looming on the near horizon?
  • Do you have the time to commit to the process?
  • Have you researched resources for potty training help and decided which method to try first with your child? (There is more than one path to success – it may be different for each child.)
  • Do you have the tools you need, such as:
    • A potty seat insert for an adult toilet and/or a child’s potty chair
    • A step stool for the big toilet and for hand-washing
    • Training pants (good to use instead of pull-ups as the child will better feel the uncomfortable sensation of wet or poopy pants)
    • Underwear which your child has selected
    • Children’s books on the topic to read together (we love Monkey Learns To Potty, of course!)
    • A potty reminder watch or potty timer
    • A progress/reward chart and stickers to acknowledge successes or other small rewards for positive reinforcement and motivation (what motivates your child?)
    • Step up your game with the Potty Monkey system – a plush, talking doll with its own mini toilet that offers interactive encouragement for potty use!

Is your child ready to begin?

  • Is your child showing signs of being ready to potty train, such as:
    • Your child is walking
    • Able to sit still and focus for a few minutes (up to 10 mins) at a time
    • Can understand and follow some basic commands
    • Telling you they need a clean diaper or asking to use the potty with signals or words
    • Following you or their siblings to the toilet and asking questions
    • Able to help with lowering pants and underwear, and to position themselves on the potty or toilet seat with a little (or no) assistance
    • Willing to stop playing to use the potty
    • Hiding to poop
    • Having a dry diaper for several hours at a time
    • Having a dry diaper most nights and can use the potty in the morning

Small child on toilet seat insert for potty training.

Follow your instincts – and be flexible as you go!

“Each child is a unique little individual and each family has its own unique dynamics. What brings results for one child may bring only frustration to another.”    ~ Dr. Smith

Where do you start?

– Patience! There will be accidents. There may be setbacks. Don’t get upset. Your child is learning, and a calm, patient consistency will deliver the best results. You may even ultimately decide you’ve started a little too soon – that’s okay. Just stop for a few days or weeks, and then try again.

– Practice with your child pulling pants and/or underwear down/up.

– Practice sitting on the toilet/potty, even with clothes in place, so they are familiar with the position. (Just avoid letting them think they should be pooping or peeing in a diaper while on the toilet.)

– Have your child sit on the toilet/potty seat at regular intervals (and before going to bed) for 10 minutes at a time to start. It’s best to start boys off sitting, too, as it is easier for them to completely empty their bladder when seated – another goal of potty training.

Toddler legs hanging in front of a toilet for potty training.– Give plenty of positive reinforcement for each step along the way – not just for successfully using the potty, but “You got your pants down all by yourself – great job!” “You sat on your potty – way to go!” and so on. Praise them for being willing to try, even if nothing happens.

– If the desired result of peeing or pooping occurs, help them express pride in their achievement and celebrate with even greater enthusiasm.

– If you are not seeing progress, re-evaluate – your timing, your methods. Don’t hesitate to seek potty training help when you’re getting frustrated. As we said before, there are many methods you can try.

– We repeat: expect accidents and a few setbacks; this is a new skill and you’re helping them learn to tune in to and control their bodies! Be prepared with calm reassurance and clean clothing.

– Sometimes learning to poop takes a little longer; don’t be surprised if you need different strategies for your child. Be sure to consult with your pediatrician if constipation rears its ugly head.

– Avoid a power struggle with your tot! It is not a command-and-control situation, it is a learning curve.

– Enlist the help of your child’s care providers in the process to ensure consistency. Potty training is a team activity and must involve everyone who has a role in your child’s daily routine.

Father and son lay on the floor.

What about nighttime dryness?

  • Generally, daytime toilet training precedes nighttime dryness.
  • Encourage your child to sit on the toilet or potty before bedtime and again when they first get up in the morning; even if nothing happens, your goal is establishing a good routine. Children usually aren’t able to pee on demand until about the age of four.
  • Consider getting them up to try to use the potty about two hours after they have gone to bed.
  • Make use of a good bed pad or mattress protector to minimize nighttime cleanups; most kids are dry through the night by about age six, though some may take a little longer. (Double-dressing the bed and using a waterproof pad will make nighttime cleanups faster and easier.)

Your child will soon learn to recognize the needs of their body and take themselves to the toilet to pee and poop, but don’t forget, it is a learning process. Don’t let setbacks get you down, and don’t make a fuss – accidents are just that, and not intentional. Calmly help your child clean up and reassure them that they will make it to the toilet the next time.

Remember to keep the process in perspective – it’s just potty training, it’s not a test of your skills or measurement of your success as a parent. It’s a stressful time, but with your guidance and encouragement, your child will successfully master using the potty!

Final thought:  Be careful when using the term “potty train” – don’t mislead your toddler into thinking there’s an actual train involved or you could have a struggle of an altogether different nature on your hands! Wise parents know…

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