You're finally in the toddler stage. Your little guy or gal is getting increasingly independent and, hey, what's this? You can actually leave the room to go to the bathroom alone while they eat lunch? This is new territory, huh? But there is one small thing left to tackle before your tot can totally graduate from babyhood. Well, maybe not so small. The dreaded potty.
And it’s about as stressful and daunting as you might imagine, so don't get any ideas about whirlwind three-day training systems that are just too rushed for everyone involved. Walking around with a soiled diaper my seem awful to us, but your toddler is pretty content and totally fine with staying this way for as long as you'll let them. Who needs to bother with a toilet when you've got mom or dad ready to wipe your poo for you?
Alas, it is still an important part of growing up for your little one and as challenging as it will be for you and them, the end result will also benefit both you and the kid. But delving into potty training doesn't come without a few tricks to get the job done. There is definitely something to be said for shiny gold stickers and cool Spiderman underwear.
Take it from us and take these tips with you as you embark on one of the final tasks of babyhood in your home. Go ahead, grab the tissues!
This is probably one of the most important things to consider as you embark on the potty training adventure with your toddler. Trying to potty train too early can stress you both out, which is to be expected when you are basically rushing your little one into it. And don't worry, they'll tell you when they're ready to depart from diapers. Some of the telltale signs that your tot is ready are:
-Showing an interest in other people going to the bathroom.
-Properly using the "pee" and "poop" terms when they've done either in their diaper.
-Has dryer diapers at night or in the morning.
-Shows obvious discomfort when wearing wet diapers.
-Is interested in the potty seat or chair you've purchased for them.
-Asks for the underwear you've shown them before.
-Is showing more independence in general.
-Can physically take off their own pants or shorts.
-Asks to change their diaper or use the potty.
Of course this isn’t the end all be all list of indicators, because you know your kid better than anyone else, but these are still pretty accurate signs that he or she is ready and willing to get this potty training thing done already.
It's plenty easy to throw in the towel (or, toilet paper roll) at the first obstacle your toddler throws at you. That is, as soon as they turn up their tiny nose at their potty chair, you will likely feel like giving up is the easiest option. Which, well, is quite true. But we all know it wouldn’t be the most responsible or the best option for your little guy or girl. And what's more, you up and changing your tactic and your mind will simply confuse them.
The trick, so to speak, isn't really a trick at all we suppose. It is you keeping strong and keeping consistent in whatever way you have chosen to go about potty training your tot. As you develop a system for getting it done, you are also introducing your child to a new routine. And in general, toddlers thrive on daily routines, so switching it up or just giving it up so soon after beginning is a real no-go for them.
Never give up and do the same thing each time
When you give up and become frustrated with your toddler's efforts they may start to have a negative inner dialogue about potty training and believe that this is something they aren't capable of doing. So although they might soil themselves in the kitchen at your friends house, just remember this is normal and that it's brand new to them. It might take them a while to really understand what their body is telling them.
This one is up there with the whole being consistent thing. Because once again, you need to remind yourself that this is a long process and it’s supposed to be a long one. So if you have a setback or two (or three or seven), jump right back into it like you didn't just scrub six pairs of toddler undies today.
It's easy to get frustrated or lose hope a few days in. But even though this little one is physically and mentally ready for potty training, it’s still a whole new venture for them to take on and they're still kids, after all. It’s in their nature to be antsy and fickle and want to use up all of their energy by running around rather than sitting atop their tiny potty every hour on the hour.
Don't lose your cool over accidents
Approach the process with an open mind and the willingness to laugh at your child as they miss the potty and accidentally plop their bare chubby bottom down on the bathroom floor. And don't freak out when they forget to tell you they need to go, er, number two, and instead use the tub as their toilet during bath time.
Let them see your easy going attitude when it comes to potty training and they just might mirror it.
While it isn't recommended to use candy or otherwise sugary treats to reward your little one for making it to the potty in time, you should use your own discretion when deciding on the reward system to develop and go with.
Kids - and even adults, who are we kidding? - respond quite well to rewards, especially when they're in candy form. But if you're feeling iffy about what may become an over abundance of drops of chocolate, opt for stickers or fun patterned ribbons.
Rewards can be as extravagant as you want them to be
You could even make a potty chart to hang in the bathroom, giving your toddler a visual aid in their progress and success. Which can be rewarding in its own way for them. But whether you go the route of candy or choose fancy ribbons, the effect will likely be the same. Eventually, you'll have on your hands a toddler excited to use the potty in order to get their loot.
Nothing promotes using the big girl/big boy toilet quite like the visual treat of "Sofia the First" undies or a pack of "The Avengers" mini boxer briefs. They'll probably even want to wiggle into them as soon as they set their widened eyes on them. Which is already a pretty amazing first step in getting them as excited at the absence of diapers as you are.
So go ahead, try them out, going into it expecting several accidents, and be ready to comfort them and have a fresh pair at hand. Like we said, the potty training process isn't a two-day task that ends with your child confidently strutting away from the bathroom with a folded up newspaper tucked under their arm.
Let your child pick out the undies themselves for extra encouragement
But at this age, they're probably a lot more excited by the sight of those brightly coloured underwear than the teddy bear and blocks printed on their diapers. Bust out the undies as early as you want, but really, the sooner the better. They are a fantastic visual aid for your soon-to-be potty trained toddler to remember just what lays beyond the diaper phase.
There will be skid marks. There will be accidents in bed. And in the living room. And yes, even in the middle of the supermarket. And you bet your mommy and daddy butts that there will be full poop pellets in those new undies you just gifted your little one with. But as long as you're prepared for the onslaught of potty accidents, you can assure yourself that all of these occurrences are entirely normal.
If you've got this idea that your kid isn't going to be like that, however, then you may have a few more problems and surprises on your hands. Because as mature as you may think your child is, they're all on the same level at the start of toilet training. True, some progress quicker than others, while some kids may be struggling with it for months and others will be comfortable after just a couple of weeks of training.
Crap happens, and it will happen places you don't want it to
So yes, your kid probably will have accidents and struggles with potty training because like we said, it is totally new territory for them too. Just remember that accidents will happen, but consistency and patience will keep the stress at a minimum.
If you're pretty much like any other parent around, you greatly look forward to the days of adorable outfits with matching socks and loafers, dressing up your toddler like little hip adults. Well when you're potty training, try and set aside that love affair with those tiny new cowboy boots you just bought and embrace your baby's freedom.
Letting them run around and move about the house without any clothes on not only brings about entertaining giggles, but also enables them to be ready to use the potty at a moment's notice. There is no unzipping or unbuttoning and certainly no wriggling tiny chubby thighs out of little jeans.
Summer is the best time to potty train children
Of course you don't need to make a habit of this, but in the early days of potty training, don't be shy about letting them run free through the house. If nothing else, you get to avoid accidents on their clothes. Not a bad trade off, we'd say.
Well obviously, right? Learning to use the toilet (or potty) like everyone else is quite the accomplishment for such a wee little one to achieve. And while you have hopefully developed your reward system for them before, this is taking it to a whole new level. Which is pretty darn lucky for them, wouldn’t you say?
Making a huge deal out of their achievement only cements the fact that they should be proud of themselves for what they can now do. Can such little ones feel a real sense of pride at this age? Maybe not like we do as adults, and probably not at the same level, but in some small way, these toddlers can comprehend that what they achieved in potty training these past few weeks (or months, yes, months!), is a great thing.
Nothing says congratulations like a celebration
And really, this party is sort of for you too. Because while it is a challenge to totally wean off diapers, it is likewise difficult to stick to potty training your toddler, follow through, and complete the process. So give yourself several pats on the back and toss out all of those extra diapers with a smile on your face. In fact, do it with your toddler, and have them help you fill their drawer with their new little undies. Once again, it is an awesome visual aid to show them the result of their potty training endeavours.
In some ways, potty training is a sad time in our lives as parents. We're officially doing away with the last shred of babyhood and promoting more independence in our children. But both things are unfortunately necessary and think of this as a learning experience for you both. And now, look forward to the next stage of toddlerhood, where you can begin experiencing even more fun and new things with your little one.
And remember, no more poopy diapers!