On the Go: Potty Training Help
Potty training is one of those parenting challenges that everybody goes through and virtually nobody enjoys. Getting frustrated with your potty-training attempts? Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks to help get the job done.
- Toss out any notion you have that your little one must be trained by a certain age. Unless you wait for him to be ready, you're in for a long uphill battle.
- Demystify the bathroom. You will have to give up all semblance of privacy for a while -- let your child watch you use the bathroom, flush the toilet, etc. Talk about the potty whenever he shows interest. Have him pick out "big boy" underwear with his favorite characters on it as a way to get him excited in the process.
- Stay on the lookout for signs of readiness. Staying dry for several hours, letting you know that a diaper is dirty and needs to be changed, requesting privacy to "go," and general interest in the toilet are all signals that your little one might be ready to try training.
- Try not to force the issue. Every child potty trains on their own schedule; some start using the toilet with virtually no drama or hassle and never look back, while for others it's a months-long learning process with fitful progress and the occasional setback. Relax, take a deep breath and don't push it -- the last thing you want is for potty training to turn into a battle of wills.
- Institute a reward system. Sticker charts, a small treat for a potty "success," or simply a big hug and some lavish praise for a job well done -- a little motivation can help even the most reluctant kid get there.
- Treat nighttime training differently. Your child might be completely accident-free during the day for quite some time before they have dry nights. Many kids aren't totally night-trained until age 5.
- Do you have big changes afoot? Then hold off on potty training until everything settles down. The arrival of a sibling, moving to a new house, switching daycares -- these are big changes for a little one to absorb. Give him time to get used to new situations before introducing potty training.
- Take it easy with "number two." For some kids, it can be scary even if they've been completely trained with "number one." Being comfortable doing both on the potty can take additional time. If you're worried about constipation or other issues that could make going difficult or painful for your child, talk to your doctor about ways to help.
- Sometimes kids are perfectly comfortable going at home, but scared to go in public bathrooms -- especially automatic flush or especially loud toilets. When you go to a new place for the first time, seek out the bathroom before your child has to go, let him see and flush the toilet. Then it won't be a total shock when he does need to use it.
- Remember that it's a gradual, ongoing process. It's extremely rare for a child to never have an accident. While he's still figuring everything out, ask often if he needs to go and make frequent bathroom breaks when you're out and about. And don't get discouraged when accidents do happen; they're simply part of the learning process that goes along with potty training.