The best potty training tricks
Whether you’re just getting ready to ditch diapers for good or you’re in the middle of the transition to big kid pants, it helps to have as many potty training tricks and tips at your disposal as possible. While one kid might need nothing but a little positive reinforcement, the next one might require a lot more coaxing (or bribing). Here are our favorite, parent-tested potty training techniques:
- The wait. Don’t even try to start potty training until your child has shown signs of readiness. For some kids, this will be at 18 months; for others, closer to three years. Forcing the issue too early will set you both up for a lot of frustration.
- The praise. Use lots and lots of positive reinforcement every time your child has a successful trip to the potty. For some kids, that’s all they need -- if this works for your family, consider yourself very, very lucky!
- The bribe. For many kids, the promise of a sticker on a chart or toy at the end of an accident-free week might just be enough for them to use the potty. You can increase or decrease the prize depending on the end result.
- The target. When it comes to getting little boys to go in the toilet and not on the floor, a bit of target practice is not only helpful, but it can make potty training into a fun game. Drop a few pieces of cereal into the bowl and have him aim away.
- The switcheroo. If one parent has been taking charge of training and meeting with little success, consider having the other parent take over for a weekend. A different parent with a slightly different technique might just do the trick.
- The wardrobe change. Ditching diapers and pull-ups in favor of “real” underwear sends a powerful “you’re a big kid now” signal (take your child to the store and let him choose his own), and the sensation of wet or soiled underpants is unpleasant -- both powerful motivators to go on the toilet!
- The timer. Repetition breeds familiarity and familiarity breeds habits. Putting your child on the potty every 30 minutes or hour for a few days whether or not he needs to go (yes, this is very time-and-labor intensive) will not only demystify the bathroom but will help “train” the body to need to go when it’s on the toilet. This technique is also good for kids who “forget” to go to the bathroom.
- The nudity. Ditching pants when you’re at home is very effective for a lot of kids. Once he has made it through a couple of “naked” days without accidents, build up to underpants. After a couple of underwear days, he’s ready to tackle being fully clothed again.
- The analysis. Some children get very scared about the toilet, feeling like they are actually physically flushing part of themselves away. For a certain type of child, learning the nuts-and-bolts of what their body is doing can help eliminate that fear. Talking to the doctor about going to the bathroom and how their bodies work is one good way to accomplish this.
- The right seat. Whether it’s a mini-potty that rests on the floor or a child seat that fits over your toilet, make sure you find the seat that makes your little one comfortable.