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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hop on that potty train: Toddler Toliet Training Tips

Potty training, like all other milestones, does not come easily for most.  It can be a frustrating time for moms, because it is something we have no control over. During the process, you may think it is never going to end, but then one day your toddler is wearing underpants and using the toilet and you think, "Wow, how did that happen?"

I am by no means an expert, but here are the things that worked best for all three of my potty training tykes...

My Top 10 Tips for Toilet Training:

Helpful tools: a little potty seat and a stack of potty books.

#1- Do not start too early.  Potty training before your toddler is ready is a sure way to fail and cause frustration.  I started too early with my first, and it became an attention getting game that lasted 9 months.  She was so smart and good at following directions, so I thought she would be a breeze to train.  Not the case.  Don't use intelligence as a guide to readiness.  Instead look for signs that they are ready.  Toddlers will often go to a corner and find a place by themselves to do their business.  Early talkers may say things like, "change my diaper", or "I'm going poop."  Another sign that they are ready is when they take an interest in what other family members are doing in the toilet.

#2- Make a commitment and stick to it.  Pick a week when you can stay home all day, all week if possible.  With my youngest we chose to do it over the school break when I wasn't running the older kids all around to their activities.  You don't want to make headway, and then have to put a diaper back on because of an outing.  I find that if you put diapers back on after switching to underpants, it is confusing to the trainee, and they think it's okay to go in their pants.

multi-layer training pants

#3- Ditch the diapers and skip the Pull-ups.  Disposable diapers are so absorbent and comfortable on the little bums, so there is no motivation to keep pants dry.  Your little one needs to feel wet so they understand the cause and effect of it all.

#4- Invest in some multi-layer training pants.  They aren't pretty, but they absorb just enough to save the couch while still allowing the toddler to feel wet.

#5- Skip the tiny tot toilet or "potty".  I like the little seats that fit right over your regular toilet because there is no transitioning from "little potty" to "big toilet".  Also, if a child becomes too attached to their little potty, then you will have trouble getting them to use a public toilet when that time comes. 

#6- Set a timer. With a crazy household like mine, it is easy to forget about taking the toddler to the toilet.  I set a timer for 15 minutes to remind us, 'it's potty time!"  When the timer goes off, stop what you're doing, make a big deal, and get really excited about "potty time!"  The timer going off became something to look forward to.  As they get the hang of it, increase the timer time from 15 to 30 minutes and so on.

#7- Sing a song.  We made up a jingle that we sang at potty time.  Pick a tune your child knows and make up your own potty lyrics.  They really get a kick out of the whole family singing the potty song. 

#8- Give Praise but also expectation and explanation. There is lots and lots of praise and positive reinforcement that goes along with successful potty training.  Go over the top with the praise when they use the toilet.  On the other hand, when they have an accident, let them know that you expect them to use the toilet.  Point out that using the toilet is easier and a lot quicker than having to change wet or dirty pants.

#9- Bribery.  Yep, I bribed all my kids.  Little treats like m&m's and jelly beans for each pee, and a "big chocolate" for the big jobs.  Stickers and small toys worked for my daughter, but candy was the only thing that motivated my two boys.  The big prize at the end of the tunnel was a package of "big boy/girl undies" with their favorite licensed character on the front. I set those aside and told them they could wear those once they kept dry most of the time. 

#10- Have a potty party! Literally. Get out the party hats and horns and wear them whenever your little one uses the potty.  They want to please you, and they want to have fun, so these potty parties are a big motivator. 

Best of luck!

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