Potty training has been on my mind lately. I have been in the throes of it lately with my three year old and dreaming of the days when I will be completely diaper free ( I still have my almost two year old who is in diapers, so we have a little while left until diaper freedom). I have gone through the agony of potty training four times, and have learned a few things along the way.
First: as in almost everything related to parenting, what worked for one person, will not necessarily work with your child. My children were NOT potty trained at two in one day!
Second: if you force it, you are going to deal with LOTS of accidents. Waiting until your child is ready makes the whole process so much easier on both you and your child. Some children will be ready at two others won’t be ready until they are pushing four.
Third: I don’t like using a small toilet or toilet seat. Imagine you are sitting in the play area of your local Mickey D’s; your two and a half year old gives you the signs that they need the bathroom, NOW! You quickly make your way to the bathroom and find an open stall…with a giant toilet (at least compared to the tiny seat at home). Your child is freaking out because he has no idea how to sit on such a large seat, and you end up with wet clothes and an uneaten lunch. Sure, your child is potty trained, but what do you do when you leave the house?
Fourth: rewards help! Sure, you don’t want your child consuming copious amounts of sugar, but a simple jar filled with M&Ms or other small candies will do the trick. If stickers on a chart work for your child, go for it. Anything that gets them excited about the process makes life easier for you. You could also offer a larger incentive if they stay dry for an extended period of time. This worked great when my oldest son was having trouble staying dry at night. I said that if he could go for a whole week without wetting the bed, he could pick at toy at WalMart. It took a little while, but it worked!
Fifth: if your child is dealing with constipation, this can make potty training much harder, as the full bowels will put pressure on the bladder. Try adding some juice, prunes or other stool softening foods to your child’s diet if this is a problem.
I hope what I have learned through my experience can help those of you approaching the potty training years.