Potty training: a rite of passage for toddlers and parents. But how do you know when it’s time to take on this new challenge? Or how to approach it? We have tips and tricks from Primrose and from parents for helping your child conquer the porcelain throne:
- Determine if your child is ready. “The pressure you put on yourself and your little one if they aren’t ready is only going to create stress for you both,” says Erica, mom of two. “It will all happen when your kiddo is ready!” Before you begin training, look for developmental readiness signs in your child – like having “dry” periods for two hours or more, showing interest in others’ bathroom habits and being able to recognize the physical signals that means she has to go to the bathroom. Also, keep in mind when NOT to start potty training. Major changes like switching from a crib to a bed or beginning new child care arrangements can hinder your child’s potty training success.
- Understand gender differences. For boys, potty training is a little different. A great first step is having him watch and learn, and then following up with a discussion about how boys use the bathroom. Avoid using a urine guard, as it may result in discomfort and cause your child to associate pain with going to the bathroom. Finally, avoid funny nicknames (like “pee pee”) to private body parts, as that can make them seem silly or embarrassing.
- Encourage and reward. Make sure to shower your child with praise when they use the potty and encourage them when there are accidents. Parents often find simple reward systems work well. “We had a sticker chart with various potty accomplishments,” says Sarah, mom of two. “Once they filled out the chart with stickers, we let them pick out a toy. We also made a big deal about cool undies. They love getting to choose which of their favorite cartoon characters to wear for the day.”
- Make it a game. If your little one is struggling, try turning it into a game by having “target practice” in which he aims for cereal Os floating in the toilet bowl. For girls, try “color magic” by adding a few drops of food coloring into the water so it changes colors when she has successfully completed her task.
- Read and discuss. Early childhood development expert Lynn Louise Wonders recommends that you emotionally inspire and encourage your child on this journey – and one great way to do this is to read books about the subject! Reading allows your child to have an opportunity to ask questions about the character’s experiences and apply them to their own lives. Make sure to be upbeat and positive when the characters successfully use the potty!
- Go with the flow – figuratively and literally! Many parents experience apprehension and uncertainty about potty training. According to Primrose Dad Brad Miller, the key is to have patience and understand that it’s okay to improvise. “Potty training, like parenthood itself, is all about mindset,” he says.
Whether potty training your child takes one week or one year, it’s important to be his best partner throughout this process. Need more tips and tricks? Here’s more parenting advice.