Our 2¾ year old Griffin is potty trained. YAY! And it only took us about 2 weeks. But, I have to be honest, there were moments during this process, that I was like “this is harder than getting him to sleep through the night!” So, I wanted to share some tips I learned through the process in hopes that it helps you and starts a dialogue.
Before you begin, be sure to see my earlier post, When To Potty Train Your Child, as it’s important that your little one is showing signs of readiness before you begin. This will make everyone else’s lives easier, gentler and happier.
Assuming your child is showing signs of readiness, let’s dive into some tips that can help you potty train your child.
Tip 1: Get your child and house ready
As I stated in first video, tell your child that you’re going to start potting training at least a week before you start. This will help prepare him emotionally for the big day. You can have him or her pick out their potty as this gets them more invested in process. I also recommend getting a couple potties so that you’ve got one in most areas of the house. We used this one by Bjorn and this other one by Bjorn. Yes, it costs a bit more than just one, but I found it was important to make it easy for the little one to find and use a toilet.
Get plenty of underwear and let the child pick out. I bought 20+ so that I wouldn’t have to do laundry everyday. I kinda thought of it like cloth diapers. Wanted a good stash so we could easily recover from accidents.
Take up any rugs in the house. I only really took up one rug where he played a lot. I didn’t do any of the rugs upstairs because I kept him in a contained area to make it easier on everyone. The key is to roll up any rugs where he/she might pee on. Some people put a tarp down.
Keep your schedule simple for the first week. I actually didn’t really follow this but it’s a good tip. We were looking at houses all the time so in and out of car, etc. But, you better believe that every chance I got, I made sure he was getting on the toilet. Also, dress them in easy toilet access clothes like skirts or elastic waist bottoms so it’s easy for them to get on potty fast and avoid accidents.
Tip 2: Find out what motivates them
This is HUGE. While some more evolved souls may not use any form of encouragement or reward, I did. And it helped HUGE. I started with natural treats like fruit-flavored lolly pops and organic dark-chocolate covered goji berries, and so forth. I told Griffin that every time he went on potty, he would get a treat. Result? This was a total bomb. First few days, Griffin had like 2-4 accidents a day and I was getting frustrated. He wasn’t into it. And I wanted to quit. Then I realized that I wasn’t tapping into what motivates him. Now, food always motivates me, but not my child. I was viewing it through my eyes. For Griff? It’s all about toys. My son is a master collector. He has little animals, dinosaurs and literally walks around with 2-3 figurines at all times. Ah, this is what motivates him.
So, we went to toy store and picked out a few things he was totally excited about. I explained that this was for potty training. We got home and I put them in a basket. Every time he went pee or poo, I let him pick one toy out of basket. At the end of the day, we returned all the toys to the basket and started again the next day. Worked like a charm. He didn’t have any more accidents for the rest of the week.
Tip 3: Put them on the toilet often
As much as we’re trying to teach them to feel and honor the urge to go, we also want to work with them. So, I put Griffin on the toilet every 20 minutes at first, especially after meals! I would also kinda monitor liquids so that he wasn’t downing 2 cups of water first thing in the morning… unless he really wanted it and then I’d put him on the toilet every 15 minutes. After about a week, I put him on every 30 minutes. Soon, HE was telling me when he had to go. I still have to practice this today. If it’s been too long since he’s gone potty, I’ll still sit him down to encourage a pit stop.
Some parents get potty watches that cue regularly or they set timers. Whatever works to remind everyone for potty stop.
Tip 4: Praise them. But not too much
I found a simple “good job!” or “doesn’t that feel great?!” was the right way for me to honor any potty accomplishment. If I make too big of a deal, Griffin looked at me funny. LOL! He would also use it as a bargaining chip because he knew that I was so attached to the outcome. The more relaxed and confident in my child’s abilities I was, the better things went.
Tip 5: Acknowledge accidents and move on
Most kiddos will have accidents. Even now, Griffin will have the occasional trip up, especially if we’re outside or playing with water, but accept that this can be a normal part of process. I do take a moment and acknowledge the accident, and we talk about where pee belongs… in the potty. Then we quickly change and move on.
Tip 6: Make it FUN!
Having the toy prizes was enough for Griffin but some found creating a potty song was a great motivator and made it fun. You can also put Cheerios in toilet and have child aim for them (if he’s a boy) as a little game. Some put food coloring in toilet water which excited some kids to go. Some make up a little potty party. Be creative.
Tip 7: Trouble with #2? Get creative.
Some kids do great with peeing on the potty but are terrified of number 2. If that’s the case, you’ll have to dig deeper and find a way to make it safe for them. Try talking to them in a cuddling moment about their fears and see if you can pinpoint. One mom said that her son felt that he was losing a part of himself by flushing poop down the toilet. So, she got an anatomy book and showed him how the process happens. This clicked with him and took way the fear.
Some children get too impatient. So give him/her a toy or read a book to them while they’re on the toilet. Another idea is to have a potty-trained friend come over. Peer pressure is powerful and if they see another little kid pooping on toilet, they will be more apt to imitate.
Lastly, consider having the other parent try if all else fails. Sometimes, it works as a fresh approach. Have daddy and child go take their poops together and see how it goes.
Tip 8: Consider a naked weekend
Many parents report success by letting child be naked for a weekend and the whole family has a stay cation at home. Kids are usually less apt to have accidents if they can actually see the pee or poo coming out of body. By letting them be au natural, they are more in tune with their bodies, rhythms and body cues.
Tip 9: Start teaching them about wiping and washing hands
Now, they won’t master these tasks till they’re older but starting the routine now will help the transition. Let child try to wipe first and then you finish. Get footstool so it’s easy for child to turn on faucets and start washing hands.
Tip 10: Make them comfortable in public
Some kids are afraid of the automatic flushing toilets in restrooms. They’re loud! You can put a post it in front of sensor to block this feature and then just take care of once child is done and out of stall. Some kids are afraid of big toilet seat so bring a portable potty or you can try disposable toilet covers with their favorite character on them.
Tip 11: Be flexible with naps and nighttime
Some moms fully potty train and don’t ever put on a diaper again. I decided to put one on him at nap and nighttime because frankly, I value my sleep immensely, and didn’t want his sleep times cut short because he had to go potty. Griffin isn’t the greatest sleeper naturally so we need as few distributions as possible. Having said that, I would say 90% of the time, his diaper is dry when he wakes up from nap and 80% after nighttime sleep. Sometimes, I keep his underwear on for naps and he does great. We’re getting close to dropping his nap and moving him to big boy bed so I will put him in underwear 100% then. This way he can get out of bed and go potty in middle of night if need be. Point is, you can potty train your child 90% of the time and enjoy the freedom and ease of not having to change dirty diapers. Don’t think it has to be all or nothing.
Tip 12: Be patient and try, try again
It can definitely be frustrating for both mom and child if there are lots of failed attempts but just remember your child will be potty trained. Whether it’s next week or next year, it will happen. Just keep at it and take breaks if necessary. Each child has their own pace.
How about you?
What tips and techniques helped you potty train your child? Share with us in the comments below so we can learn from each other!
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