Although potty training is an important rite of passage, many parents are overwhelmed about how to approach such a daunting task. The trick is to know how to convince a child to stop doing what they are doing and go potty. The first step is to look for cues that a child is ready to potty train.
Is your child ready?
Most experts agree that a child is ready to potty train between 18 months and 30 months of age. While every child is different, girls are usually ready earlier than boys.
Physical signs of readiness include predictable bowel movements and dry periods of at least two to three hours. This indicates a child's ability to control their bladder.
Behavioral readiness sigs include a child’s ability to communicate simple words and they should be able to pull their pants up and down. They might feel uncomfortable walking around in a dirty diaper and some will seek privacy during a bowel movement.
But even if all signs point to readiness, your child’s interest in getting potty trained can be fleeting. It is common for a toddler to devote themselves completely to toilet training only to lose interest a few days later.
Potty training requires a lot of patience from parents. Parents should avoid getting frustrated, angry or disappointed when cleaning up accidents.
Let your kid take the lead
Although there are theories that say that a child can potty train in three days or less, every child is different. Parents should seal off their expectations and let toddlers take the lead, because potty training can mean a lot of stopping and starting.
Just let the whole process run naturally. All children learn to walk, talk and use the potty at their own pace.
One way to spark a child's interest in potty training is to involve them in the process. Let them choose their potty and get them used to the idea of sitting on it, dressed or undressed. Get them a few potty training books, buy them some ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ underwear and tell them that they can wear their new undies as soon as they are ready to use the potty.
How to get the job done
Once your child is ready, the most common approach is to stay indoors for a few days and let your child run around naked. Talking to them a few days in advance about what to expect and showing them how to use the potty can help prepare them.
To give your child ample opportunity to practice potty training, offer them plenty of fluids. Always keep the potty handy and encourage them to sit on it. In general, it's better to tell a child that it's time to go potty than to ask them if they have to go, as they're more likely to say "no".
There are several ways to motivate your child to use the potty. Some parents lure their kids into the potty with the promise of a sticker, a song or dance, or even a little candy, such as an M&M.
When accidents happen, don’t make a big deal out of it. Instead, just point out to your child that it's fine and that they should try using the potty next time.
Eventually, they will master using the toilet and and you'll wonder how it happened so fast.