My tendency is usually to over complicate things. Potty training not excluded. I wanted so badly to have my 18 month old in a big girl bed, potty trained, and broken of the paci habit by the time baby brother arrived. Lofty goals for sure! Well one out of three ain’t bad, right? We managed to transition her to a big girl bed without a hitch. The potty training, she wanted nothing to do with. Let’s not even talk about the paci. Does this sound familiar? She did potty train just a few months later, but it was after she turned two and when she was ready. I’m going to let you in on a few tips I learned along the way that seemed to work well for us. I plan to do the same with my next one. Potty training really doesn’t have to be complicated. This is potty training made simple for those of you, like myself, who tend to make things harder than they really are until someone shows us a better way (or until we learn the hard way, whatever!).
5 Tips to Make Potty Training Easy Peasy
Tip #1: Wait until they are good and ready. This is gonna save you a ton of time. If you try to force your child to potty train before they are ready, you will run into all sorts of problems. You’ll be frustrated, they’ll be frustrated, accidents and messes abound, defiance exhibited by refusing to go may happen, creating potential health problems for your child. Not good! So how do you know they’re ready?
Signs of Potty Training Readiness
- Can clearly tell you when they need to or already have gone pee/poo in their diaper.
- They have predictable times of relieving themselves.
- Show interest in the potty
- Seem uncomfortable in a dirty diaper
- Can go diaperless for a period of time without making a mess on the floor
- They can understand the concept and connection between a reward for doing something well. (Not absolutely necessary, but helpful if you want to try to use a sticker chart)
Tip #2: Familiarize You Child with All things “Potty”. Such as, let them watch you on the toilet. Talk about what you’re doing (yes this sounds weird, and you never would’ve imagined you’d be giving some one a play by play of your toileting experience, but…welcome to parenthood! There’s a lot more you never thought you would do/say coming.) Buy a SIMPLE potty chair for them to get familiar with. Nothing super fancy with any bells and whistles. It may be too distracting and become more like a toy than an actual throne for them to learn to sit and “go” on. We purchased a very simple one from IKEA for 4.99. You can also find a similar one from Summer Infant (at Walmart or Amazon) for 9.99. Keep it in various rooms of the house. Let them sit on it while you go.
Tip #3: Nakey Time! The easiest way to potty train is to stay home as much as possible and when you do, to let your child be naked. At least from the waist down. If your kid is like mine, they’re gonna love it! If you can’t bring yourself to let them be completely nude, try just from the waist down OR even loose fitting pants should do the trick. Basically they need to feel the difference, that there is no diaper there. This also saves time when they do need to go; you don’t have to struggle with pulling pants down, etc. In those first few days/weeks, every second counts!
If you can’t stay at home all the time (maybe both parents work outside the home or you have older children to chauffeur around), just try it whenever you are home. Evenings, weekends, etc should help the process along. What if your child is in daycare? Most daycares will partner with you in your potty training efforts. You can always try the loose fitting pants or this fantastic tip from an experienced teacher I once worked with: put them in underwear, with a pull up on over it! The pull up will catch the mess, but they will feel the wet cotton against them rather than the absorbent diaper/pull up. It may be worth a try!
Tip #4: Remain Calm & Patient. Accidents are going to happen. There will be pee and sometimes other – er – let’s call them “presents” on the floor. But just keep being consistent, calmly reminding your child that “pee goes in the potty” as you carry them to it. Even if all the “going” has happened on the floor, you can still go through the motions of putting them on the toilet, just to get the message across. You staying calm, rather than getting angry/frustrated/exasperated, will be a HUGE contributor to their confidence in using the toilet.
Sometimes children may be more comfortable going #1 on the potty, but #2 is a little more challenging. For the longest time, my child would only do that on her tiny potty. She did great on the big potty any other time, but if she had to go #2, only her little potty would do. Plus it was portable! Who wouldn’t want to go on the potty while continuing to watch Curious George? After a few weeks, at her own pace, she got more comfortable with the grown up potty and at 2.5 was totally toilet trained. But again, age doesn’t matter so much as readiness.
Tip #5: Rip off the “band aid”. Or in other words, don’t keep using pull ups sometimes, then underwear and back and forth, back and forth. You will have to be consistent. It’s helpful to use some kind of diaper during naps and nighttime sleep at first. We also typically used one when we went out. But once they seem to have the hang of it and especially if they are waking up dry, it’s time to chance it. Give them the opportunity to show you what they can do! And if they wet the bed, remain calm. It happens. Refer back to tip #4. Our daughter surprised us by easily holding it while sleeping. We came to realize she simply filled her diaper as soon as she woke up, but had most likely been holding it for a while without us knowing. So unless you try it out, you may not know if they can do it!
Should You Use Rewards?
Should you reward your child for using the potty? Absolutely! Now whether that reward comes in the form of a crazy happy dance and applause, a sticker on a potty chart, or a grape or m&m, that is totally up to you. I personally didn’t love the idea of rewarding with food, so we chose to use a sticker chart!
It was lots of fun for my daughter and gave her something visual to chart her progress. Having said that we did occasionally use her favorite thing, chocolate, as an incentive to go #2. Which then led to her referring to her candy as “poop chocolate” (She may hate me one day for writing this!).
Potty Training is Simple…But…
Potty training really is pretty simple. Not always easy! But definitely simple. Of course, there will always be children who do their own thing regardless of what you read in parenting books and blogs on the internet. Hopefully these tips will be helpful to most! I’m no expert, and our process took more like two months rather than that awesome sounding”potty training in 3 days” program. But once it was done, it was done. No going back. Talk to me again next year when I’m potty training a boy for the first time. I may be starting back at square one. And I guarantee there will be more mess for me to clean up. *ugh*
Let me know in the comments below whether you’ve used any of these techniques or if you found some other ways that were helpful in potty training your child!