Teaching your child to use the potty-in one easy step!
In my line of work I get asked about potty training on almost a daily basis. To date I have successfully potty trained my 2 children, over 50 children as their direct teacher and supervised/guided people in potty training hundreds of children-so it is safe to say, I have a little experience in this area.
Before I start on my "how do you know your child is ready" tips and my "one step" potty training techniques, I want to state that potty training is worthless! You read that right. If you want to teach your child to use the potty in a developmentally appropriate, easy, and stress free way-do not potty train your child. You read that right: DO NOT POTTY TRAIN YOUR CHILD.!
Before you start teaching your child to potty-make sure they are ready!
Can you answer YES to all of the following?
- Your child stays dry for a few hours at a time
- Your child can follow wimple instructions and copies behaviors
- Your child can tell you they want/need to use the potty (does your child talk?)
- Can you child pull their pants up and down
- Does your child show signs that they need to go potty before an accident occurs (this can be anything! I had one son who went to a corner and did his business before each accident, my other one did the "potty dance")
- Does your child show an interest in using the potty?
- Does your child want to stop wearing diapers or wear "big kid" underwear?
If you answered YES to all of the above-it is time to get ready!
Getting ready to use the potty
Before you start-make sure that you, and your child's support team, are ready! Everyone has to be on board so talk to babysitters, family members, and your child's school. Make sure you do the following:
- Pick a time when you will have no large changes happening in your child's life (such as moving, a new baby being born, changing schools, etc.)
- Make sure you have the proper supplies (let you child pick out their underwear!)
- Start using potty words (....I know...I know....you usually don't let your child use potty words, but teach them words for pee and poop so they can talk about what is coming out of their bodies.
- Get your child used to the toilet (big toilet, toilet seat, little toilet-it does not matter!). Have them sit on it a few times in their clothing, or with their pants down. Leave the little potty chair out. Let them be in the bathroom. This will help your child to get used to the potty and not afraid.
It is time! Here is the ONE STEP "secret" to getting your child to use the potty!!!!!!!!!!!!
- PUT YOUR CHILD IN UNDERWEAR.
Not kidding. That is it. Put your child in underwear, with no diaper or pull-up. Do it and don't look back.
So there are a few tips and tricks to help this go a lot faster, and a lot of reasoning why this is a great way to approach teaching your child to use the toilet.
- Do not punish- I can't stress this enough. Acknowledge that your child has had an accident and let them know that mess happens!
- Ask your child to go to the toilet every half an hour-do not force them to sit on the potty! Do not make them stay on the potty for an extended period of time.
- Let your child change their own clothing- By feeling the wetness in their clothing they will understand the natural process that is taking place in their body. People do not like the feeling of body waste on their body-if your child is in a pull up or diaper they can't feel when they are messy! Yes-it is kind of gross and you will have to help (and probably clean the bathroom when they are done) but have your child take off their pants and underwear, put it in the washer and put on new clothing.
- Praise your child and forget the mistakes- When your child has an accident-do not make a big deal out of it! Just go to the bathroom with them, have them take off their clothing, sit on the potty, and tell them good job! The positive reinforcement will help them use the potty. If you want to reward your child for going to the potty-that is fine, but is not necessary.
- Diapers/Pull-ups are OK some times-Night time and long car/shopping trips. That is it! It does not matter which you use-however if you use pull-ups you child can learn to change themselves.
- DO NOT GO BACK-Do not be worried about setbacks! Some children will never have an accident-others will have slip ups due to a variety of reasons. Do not put your child back in pull ups or diapers for any reason during the day! Do not go backwards as you will extend the training period and your child will take longer to learn to use the toilet.
How long will this take?
For some children they may potty train within a few days. For other children it may take weeks, or months, before they are completely accident free. Some children will continue to have night accidents for years after potty training. If you are concerned, make sure you talk to your physician!
Author: Lauren Fontaine has been working with children for almost 2 decades. She is currently the Executive Director at World of Wonders Child Care and Learning Center and the proud mother of two boys.