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The Dos and Don’ts of the Potty Training Process

By Jessa McClure

"Mommy, diaper wet." Hearing these three precious words is almost as sweet as hearing "I love you" because it means that my little one is ready to start the potty training process. Although the idea of getting rid of diapers is appealing, the idea of teaching my two-year-old how to use the toilet is a little scary.

There are countless resources available for parents who are ready to tackle toilet training their tots, but the amount of information can be overwhelming. Here are some potty training Dos and Don'ts that will help you navigate the bathroom battlefield.

Do know if your child is ready
Sometimes parents can be eager to get their wee ones to wee-wee on the potty. But if your child isn't ready to go potty, then you could have a difficult road ahead. The experts at the Mayo Clinic say you should ask yourself some questions before you begin the potty training process like:

  • Is your child interested in the potty or wearing big-kid underwear?

  • Can your little one take instructions and execute them?

  • Does your child already know when he or she needs to go potty or when he or she has soiled themselves?

  • Can your child stay dry for more than a few hours during the day?

  • Does your child assist in getting himself/herself dressed?

  • Can he or she sit on the potty?

If you can say yes to a number of these questions, then your child might be ready to leave diapers behind.

Don't compare your child to their siblings
If your first child was easy to potty train, then chances are your next child will be difficult. Every child is different, and saying things like, "your sister was potty trained when she was three," is not helpful and can be detrimental to your child's self-esteem.

Do prepare for potty training your child
Teaching your little one to use the potty can be a long process. So, being prepared can help things go smoothly and limit frustration. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests deciding what to call your child's body parts, urine, and bowel movements before you begin, pick a potty chair that will pique their interest, help your child recognize when they need to visit the potty and encourage them to wear training pants or big-kid underwear.

Do establish a routine
In the beginning, your child might not realize that he or she has to go until it's too late. If you establish a potty routine—like having them sit on the potty every couple of hours—they will learn to read their body's cues and eventually be able to regulate their own potty routine.

Do give your child incentives and rewards
Some children will take to the potty quicker than others. If your child needs a little encouragement through the use of incentives and rewards, that's okay. Try posting a chart and giving your child a sticker for each successful trip to the potty or every time they sit on the potty. You can also try offering a special trip to the park or a small toy if they meet their potty training goals. And while treats and stickers are helpful tools in the going-potty game, children also need to hear that you are proud of them. Use positive language when talking about their milestones, and never scold or put them down when they have an accident.

Don't worry about setbacks
If you followed all of the steps, offered incentives and your little one still isn't interested in using the potty, then it may be time to pack it in for a few weeks or months. Every child follows their own potty training path, and forcing them to go will only make the process stressful for both of you.

Potty training can take a while, but if your child is four years old or older, or you think there's something more serious behind their unsuccessful potty training attempts, then seek guidance from your pediatrician. Click here for some healthcare providers who might be able to help. Back To Top

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