Written by Caroline Meyer
There are so many different articles about how to potty train. Some claim to get your toddler off nappies and on to the potty in just 3 days. None of these methods can be a fix all for all toddlers. Kids develop at their own pace and some may not be ready for the process and some may also take a lot longer. Hang in there, they will get there eventually. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you along the way.
Do: Make sure that your toddler is ready for potty training. For most toddlers this happens around 27 to 32 months. Starting earlier than this could lead to failure if they are aren’t ready to understand the concept. Forcing potty training too early could mean resistance later even when they are able to grasp what it is about.
Don’t: Be aware of the signs. Ignoring them can lead to frustration and difficult in training. Your little one will show an interest in using the bathroom or asking you questions about what you are doing when you are in there. They may show an interest in wearing underwear instead of nappies. They should have some patience and be able to undress and dress themselves. Being able to sit on the potty for long enough is important and avoiding accidents will help build their confidence.
Do: Talk about using the potty before you start training. You can also read them books about it. If they want to sit on the potty before you start training, let them do so. Make sure that when you do start, have everything on hand that you need. Avoid frustration by being prepared. Don’t delay past the time period that they have indicated readiness as the process can become harder if delayed too long.
Don’t: There are many different potty-training methods. Don’t limit yourself to a particular method only. You can try a few different methods and remain patient. Sometimes one strategy will work straight away. Sometimes you may have to try a few methods or a combination of methods. Sometimes it takes 3 days, sometimes 12 months. Your little one will get there eventually. You just need to stick with it.
Do: Keep calm and don’t put pressure on your little one. If there are tears or tantrums on their end or frustration and anger on yours it will just be more difficult in the long run. Make it as stress free as possible for both of you. If one way isn’t working, try something else. Something will click and they will just get it. Putting too much pressure on your toddler could make the process take longer than it needs to. Stick with it, whether you are at home or out. Try have them use the potty before you go out but if you are at the shop and they let you know they need to go, be prepared to drop everything and get them to a bathroom quickly.
Do: Use small rewards to help them stay on track. Maybe start with something small such as stickers to put on a chart or a small sweet for the first few days to make it exciting. Then slowly taper off the rewards as they stop being a motivation and lose value after a while. Reward charts (for success only/ignore failures) can be a good way to motivate at the start as they only receive an actual reward after a certain number of successes. Motivate with plenty praise and affection more than physical rewards.
Don’t: Don’t punish mistakes. There will be accidents, it is to be expected. Don’t embarrass or humiliate them for having an “oops” or three. Keep it positive. This is a life skill you will teach your child once and it sets them up forever. It is also one of the big teaching experiences you will have with your little one. As much as you are teaching them, use this as a learning experience for yourself as well. It will help you learn how to motivate your child, stay patient and relax even when accidents happen. Just remember, they will get there in their own time.