Hey Mama, are you currently in the thick of potty training or have you ever been in the thick of potty training mode and lived to tell the tale? Maybe you think you have tried and failed at this thing called “Potty Training.” Take a deep breath and relax! Check out these common pitfalls and see if maybe you can re-evaluate what you’re trying:
- Starting too early
- Not using positive potty talk
- Trying to also “night train”
- Overusing rewards
Sometimes in our fervor to get the process over with, we start our little ones before they are truly ready. Or we may even overuse rewards, and then they see “trying” as a way to get treats.
Give yourself (and your toddler) grace and take a break and try again in a few months or even after the holidays. The truly best way to train is the way that works best for you. Here are the 3 most common methods. See which one or combination might work best for you and your family situation:
The Wait-and-Pee (or Poop)
The method: Starting at around age 2, watch for signals that your child is ready, but don’t pressure them. Put a potty seat in the bathroom, for example, but don’t insist that they use it. Just be supportive and praise them when they do.
Pros: Less frustration and fewer accidents because (theoretically, at least) a child succeeds quickly once he’s ready.
Cons: More than likely, your child will be in diapers longer than with other methods (though they won’t be alone—40 percent of kids aren’t trained by age 3).
Is it right for you? This approach is especially good for a kid who’s accomplishment-oriented— if for example he/ she has a big brother/ sister he/she wants to be like.
The Potty Planner
The method: Set aside some time—say, the month before preschool—and make a focused effort to promote potty use. Stay close to home (which is a lot easier these days!) and gently steer your toddler to the bathroom at predictable intervals (also ask if she needs to go, to help her recognize the sensations). At the end of the allotted time, your child will be at least partly trained. Some parents declare “booty camp,” where a day or even a week is structured entirely around potty use.
Pros: Making a concerted effort helps your little one concentrate on the task at hand.
Cons: You’ll have to structure your time so that you’re home a lot, and your efforts can backfire if you’re too intense.
Is it right for you? Yes, if you’ve got a generally cooperative child who thrives on routine. But if you or your child gets distracted or frustrated easily, pick another strategy.
Eyes on the Prize
The method: Reward your child after her potty triumphs with something small, like a sticker or small treat. You can combine this method with one of the others above.
pros: For some kids, the thought of a trip to the toy store or Grandma’s house is motivating.
cons: You run the risk of having your child demand compensation for every “performance.”
Is it right for you? It can be, if you know when to draw the line. Try eventually switching to rewards related to potty use, like fancy underwear.
No matter which method you choose, all toddlers need help learning how to take their pants off. Make it fun! Put as many layers of clothes on as you can and race to take them all off. It’s great practice and lots of fun for all.
Remember to be prepared when leaving the house, and make sure to pack extra clothes, extra undies, wet bags, wipes, and even treats/ rewards.
If you’re starting out or re-starting, here are the 3 “C’s” to keep in mind beforehand:
- Consistency- make a schedule/ structure time to allow for training; set alarms/ timers to help keep everyone focused on “trying” regularly.
- Creativity- use fun new undies, stickers, and rewards; offer reading materials at the potty to help keep child on the potty long enough to relax and go.
- Confidence- remember you are the best mom for the job; you know your kids best; remember to celebrate the wins along the way.
What worked for you might work for another mom. Please follow us on Instagram and join the discussion about potty training and all things motherhood and womanhood. Community is the best kind of support we can offer one another- you've got this, Mama!