A Mom’s Tips for Easier Potty Training
Some children will happily sit down and accept the toilet, but for other children (and their parents), toileting can become a challenge. My daughter is almost nine years old, so our toileting days are far behind us. However, having volunteered at a special needs school for several years, I have talked many parents through the toileting transition. Here are some tips to help introduce the toilet.
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You have to want it more. This doesn’t mean that you must be forceful and impose your wants on your child. It means that you have to be more determined to stay consistent with your potty training plan than your child is determined to thwart it.
Make sure they are ready. Most parents have a good idea when their child is ready. The child should have an interest in and some knowledge of the toilet. Allowing them to follow a same sex sibling, playmate, or parent into the bathroom and observe can help spur an interest. There are also DVDs and books in most bookstores that you can watch or read with your child. (This one has been very helpful to several special needs children I have worked with.)
Ditch the diapers. When you decide you and your child are ready, take the plunge. I have found it takes longer to potty train a child who is still wearing diapers than one in underpants. Parents who know there is no diaper are more motivated to take the child to the toilet regularly and watch out for accidents. Taking a child to the store to pick out new underpants can also help with motivation.
Create a plan. A good place to start is to take the child to the toilet every twenty minutes and have him sit on it for at least a few minutes. (You can use a timer or just say, “Sit until I have read three books to you,” and keep a basket of books in the bathroom for convenience.) There will be accidents, so cover sofas and chairs with towels. Begin with twenty minute intervals for a day or so, and then slowly lengthen the time between intervals as the child catches on.
Create a reward system. I recommend a system using two different types of stickers: plain, star stickers, and big, flashy stickers. When the child sits nicely on the toilet (even if nothing goes into it), they get the plain sticker. When they do put something in the toilet, then they get the special, fancy sticker. I’ve also known moms who have used candy as a reward.
Accidents will happen! Have the child help whomever cleans up the mess, but don’t punish him or her for an accident. Focus more on achieving the reward, which will keep the child positive and motivated.
Be consistent and confident – even during those first few days of accidents – and pretty soon those diaper days will be history!