By Adline A. Ghani
As a parent, you look forward to celebrating your child’s many milestones. From first words to first steps and beyond. There is a particularly memorable milestone that happens the moment your baby starts on solid food and it’s also one of the most challenging milestone of all – potty training!
The transition from diapers to toilet bowl is a huge step for both parents and child, and though all parents go through it, the secret to potty training success always manages to confound. So what does it take, besides lots and lots of patience? Check out these practical tips on timing, technique and handling the inevitable mishaps.
Signs that your child is ready
If you’re becoming concerned because your friend’s kid has starting potty training at age two, and yours hasn’t, don’t be. There’s nothing wrong with your child if he or she isn’t ready yet. Potty training is all about being emotionally and physically ready and this readiness varies from child to child. To gauge whether or not your child is ready to ditch those diapers, ask yourself these questions:
- Does my child seem interested in the potty or toilet?
- Can my child tell me, with words or signals, when he or she needs to go?
- Can my child pull his or her pants up and down?
- Does my child complain when his or her diaper gets wet or dirty?
- Does my child’s diaper stay dry for two hours or longer in the day time?
If your answers are mostly “yes,” then there’s a good chance that your child is ready to be potty trained. If you’ve answered mostly “no,” however, give yourself and your child a bit more time. He or she might not be ready for it today but things could change dramatically in a month or two, so keep looking out for the signs.
Let the training begin!
If your child seems ready to start potty training, first thing’s first — approach the training process with a positive attitude. You also need to be able to laugh at mistakes (and accidents), as they’re bound to happen. If you’ve bought a potty, make sure you put it in the bathroom and show your child how it’s used.
You can do this in a number of ways. For example, you could encourage your child to sit on the potty, with or without diapers. You can also talk to your child about using the potty using simple, easy to understand words.
Make time for potty breaks
Once your child has become familiar with the potty, you can graduate to scheduled potty breaks. During a potty break, your child can sit diaper-free on a potty for a few minutes. Be sure to do this several times each day and stay with your child while he or she is on the potty. Don’t forget to praise your child for making an effort. Throughout the training period, keep a close eye for signs that your child needs to go, like squirming or squatting. As soon as you see these signs, take your child to the toilet. Soon, he or she will become familiar with these signals. Each time your child uses the toilet, let him or her flush it, and teach your child how to wash his or her hands afterwards.
Bye bye diapers
Once you’ve had several weeks of success with potty breaks, your child can make the transition to training pants or regular underwear. It is best to avoid cumbersome clothing, such as overalls, belts or leotards for some time, so that you can avoid any accidents. Be sure to rejoice with your child on his or her success! Some parents reward their kids with stickers, while others go out on family outings. You should also reinforce your child’s efforts by saying positive things, even if a potty break wasn’t successful.
Don’t be pushy
In potty training, as in life, sometimes things just don’t go quite the way you want them to. So if your best efforts don’t seem to be taking effect, give yourself and your child a break. As mentioned early on in this article, your child needs to be ready for it. By all means, give it another try in a couple of weeks.
How to handle accidents
Accidents are a given during potty training, so be prepared. You can help prevent them, by giving your child frequent reminders to use the toilet, especially when they’re engrossed in something else, like playing a game, or watching television. Though potty training accidents can be messy and frustrating, resist the urge to scold, embarrass or discipline your child. Instead, be encouraging and understanding. Reassure your child that he or she will get to the bathroom sooner next time. If your child is prone to having accidents, it’s wise to keep a change of clothing and underwear handy, be it at school, day care, or when you’re out and about. Handle accidents in your stride, because soon you’ll find that persistence pays off!