The setting… a bright, cheery grocery store promising yummy goodies and household necessities! Then just as you’re perusing the latest selection in organic milk you hear, “Mom-m-e-e-e! I have to go pee-pee… NOW!”
If this were a made-for-TV movie, the camera would now pan to the grocery cart full of melting ice cream and assorted other perishable items at the back of the store as far away from the bathrooms as possible. Our heroine quickly grabs her two-year-old by the hand and races through the aisles toward the bathrooms. Along the way her child trips over his new shoes and falls to the floor resulting in a bloody lip. Mom quickly reaches into her purse for a tissue, presses it to her child’s bloody lip, picks up her now crying two-year-old and continues the sprint to the bathrooms.
While it has all the makings of a great television sit-com, this scene could have been taken from any number of parents’ potty-training anecdotes. Reaching the decision to potty train your child is the easy part. The tougher part is tackling the process so the end result is a mostly positive experience for you and your child.
So where do you begin? Begin by enlisting the help of every parent, friend, pediatrician and teacher you know who has been there and lived to tell about it!
Here are some potty training tips from moms and dads that have been there:
•Be Prepared to Begin. Potty training is a process that requires a lot of patience. Don’t expect results overnight — be sure every stakeholder is ready for it. For parents, make sure you’re ready for the commitment. Potty training involves schedules and being consistent. For children, make sure your toddler is ready to begin! It helps to remember that this isn’t a contest. Resist the temptation to begin just because a friend shares her marvelous potty training success. If your child isn’t ready, you’ll be facing weeks of frustration and disappointment.
•Be consistent. Once you’ve started the process, it’s important to make a plan and stick with it. This includes at home, at child care, in the car or out on the town.
1. Putting a diaper on your child instead of the usual daytime underwear or training pants because you’re running errands sends your child mixed messages and can even slow the potty training process.
2. If your child is enrolled in child care, enlist the help of your child’s teachers. The more consistent the process is at home and school, the smoother it will proceed.
•Be patient, positive and proactive. Remember that accidents will happen so try to remain patient with the process. Expect setbacks and try to stay positive. Here are a few planning tips from our moms to help the process run more smoothly.
1. Carry at least one complete change of clothing – shirt, pants, socks, and shoes in addition to extra training pants/underwear. Several moms also recommend keeping a back-up set in the car just in case!
2. Pack potty training supplies when on the go – a familiar, favorite book, a potty seat adapter (if your child uses one), etc.
3. Carry flushable wipes with you. In the world of potty training, these little wipes are priceless – you can quickly wipe down public restrooms, clean up your toddler after an accident and more!
4. Pack a roll of biodegradable doggie waste bags in your diaper bag or purse. These usually come in small holders and cost less than specialty ones in the baby aisle. It goes without saying that these little bags come in handy for those accidents that always seem to happen when diaper bins and changing areas are unavailable – at the train table in the toy store, in the middle of a packed movie theater, or perhaps in the middle of the dance floor at your sister’s wedding reception!
•Do what works for your child and your family. While it’s great to listen to advice from the pros and well-meaning friends and family, every child is different. Whether it’s a potty ring versus a child-sized potty, training pants versus underwear, standing versus sitting for boys, or rewards versus praise… mommy and daddy really do know what works best for their child. Trust your instincts!
•Make it fun! Potty training is an important rite of passage – try to have fun with it! You just have to get to the other side. The process takes time but won’t last forever and at the end you’ll have your own set of funny stories to share! If potty training feels like an endless, painful chore for you, it will feel that way for your child too. Read books, choreograph a potty dance, hold a potty party – the important thing is to make it fun!
So how did our “potty training” story end… ultimately with a happy, healthy eight-year-old who probably doesn’t even remember that day in the grocery store. At the time, however, I’m quite sure it ended with mommy treating herself to a candy bar at the checkout! Good Luck writing your own potty training stories filled with successes, setbacks and plenty of laughs.