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There are some parts of parenting that are very hard in the moment but you still look back on fondly. I remember being super tired getting up in the night with a newborn, but those nights are still precious and fond memories. There are other parts of parenting, however, that you laugh maniacally at in the review mirror. Potty training is one of those things for me. I have not yet looked back fondly on potty training days. Potty training can be hard and stressful, and we moms need all the real-life tips we can get to get through those days. This post takes you through some key potty training tips to get you through your potty training experience as smoothly as possible.
Prepare Before You Start
Before you start potty training, prepare yourself and your child. Have a game plan. With some kids, you can just wing the whole process, but with most, you need to know what you will do. How often will you take your child potty? Will you stay with your child all day, or do a normal routine? Will you go bare-bottom, underwear only, or fully clothed? Will you do treats and/or rewards? If so, purchase those. There is more than one way to potty training, and there is no ONE right way. Find what appeals to you, but be aware of other strategies, or at least be prepared to research other strategies if the one you go with ends up not being the right formula for your child. For details on how I potty trained, see my post on how I do it.
Make sure you have time in your schedule to focus on the task at hand. Potty training needs your attention. Talk about potty training before you actually start so your child can be prepared, also.
For more help on what to do before you start, see my post 5 Things To Do Before You Start Potty Training.
Focus on Your Child
I mentioned above that you need to clear your schedule before you start so you can focus on your child. You need to be mentally focused on your child and able to help and guide at any moment. Your child is learning a new skill. She isn’t just adding a skill to life. She is changing the way she has been doing something her entire life. She will likely fall back into her old habits at times, and very understandably so. If you are not fully focused on this learning process, you are more likely to be cleaning up more accidents. Potty training is challenging, for both you and your child.
Set the Space for Success
Potty training can be stressful experience for both you and your child. Set the space up around your child up so that when accidents happen, you won’t freak out about it. If you are using a potty chair, set the chair on a surface that is easily cleaned or set it on top of an absorbent towel. Have your child play on a surface that is easily cleaned or on a towel. If you are grossed out or stressed out by a potty accident, it will bring more stress into the process.
Give Lots of Liquids
For most any method you go with for potty training, you need your child to NEED to go potty. If your child doesn’t NEED to go potty, he will be able to hold it for a long time. A big part of potty training is your child simply realizing he can pee on the toilet. That comes from doing it, and that comes easier if his body needs to so badly that he just can’t hold it in.
For that reason, it is smart to have your child drink a lot of liquids. You can do that by offering liquids he likes or by offering enough dry snacks that he just needs to drink a lot of water.
Many times, a child just needs that light bulb moment of experience of actually peeing on the toilet to realize what it is all about. THIS is how it feels. THIS is how you do it. If there is lots of liquid, there is lots of opportunity for practice.
Have Some Sort of Reward System
Your reward could just be verbal. It could be hugs, kisses, and high fives. It could be a sticker chart. It could involve treats. It could be anything your child loves. Have something that gives your child reward.
You will want to decide what exactly to reward. I like to reward success on the potty, but I also like to reward success off the potty, meaning staying clean and dry. We aren’t just celebrating what happens on the toilet, but we are also celebrating the fact that an accident didn’t happen.
A reward system is really the biggest difference among the different potty training methods. How you reward, when you reward, and what you reward for. You know you. You know your child. You can best guess what type of system will work best at your house.
Tell Your Child it is Time to Go Potty
In the beginning, your child might have a hard time recognizing when to go potty. So far, she has just gone when she has gone. If you rely fully on her deciding she needs to go, you will most likely have more accidents, especially if she is two or younger. It is wise at first to have set times to sit on the potty and try. You can do every 15-30 minutes. You could decide to let her guide when, but still have some key times you require sitting.
Just don’t give full control to your child. Even once she is potty trained, you will have times you want her to go to potty. Before nap time. Before bed. Before leaving the house to go somewhere. Establish from the beginning that there will be times you tell her to sit and try to go potty.
Remember when your child first learned to walk? There were times he fell down. Accidents and mistakes happen when we humans are learning new skills. The same is true for potty training. Accidents will happen. Do not let them stress or freak you out.
Don’t Be Afraid to Quit
With that said, if it is clear after a few days that your child isn’t ready for potty training, stop for a while and try again in a few months. Some people are terrified of stopping because they think they will set their child up for failure forever. I personally have stopped and then started again with a child. I know many others who have, also. All of those children have gone on to potty train at a later date. If it just isn’t working, and you can tell it won’t, try again a different day. Don’t give up after a rough day–give it some time. But once you know this isn’t working, stop and come back later.
Potty training can be challenging and exhausting, but you can do it! As in all things that are difficult, there is great reward at the end. So while it is hard, it is worth it. And you can kiss that step good-bye and look to diaper free days ahead!