After about 2 weeks of potty training, I’m delighted to say that our 2¾ year old Griffin is diaper free. YAY! While in retrospect, it seems easy; there were moments during this process, that I was thinking “this is harder than getting him to sleep through the night!” So, I wanted to share some potty training 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 potty training. This will make everyone else’s lives easier, gentler and happier.
Assuming your child is showing signs of potty training readiness, let’s dive into some tips that can help you potty train your child.
Video: 12 Tips to 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 potty 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 while potty training.
Get plenty of potty training pants — consider letting your child pick out the colors/patterns. I bought a dozen pairs so that I wouldn’t have to do laundry everyday. I kinda thought of it like cloth diapers. I wanted a good stash so we could easily recover from accidents without having to do a ton of laundry.
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. Cover the areas where you’ll be focusing the potty training.
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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 lollypops and organic dark-chocolate, and so forth. I told Griffin that every time he went on the 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 on the potty, 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 during the first week of potty training, especially after meals! I would also 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 encourage a pit stop.
Some parents get potty watches that cue regularly or they set timers. Whatever works to remind everyone it’s time to go during potty training.
As part of this, keep your schedule simple that first week. You don’t want to be running tons of errands and I’d actually recommend staying at home most of that first week if you can. You also want to be sure that they are dressed in easy toilet access clothes such as elastic waist shorts/pants or skirts. This makes it easy for them to get on the toilet fast and avoid accidents during potty training.
Tip 4: Praise them. But not too much 🙂
I found a simple “good job!” or “doesn’t that feel great?!” or “I like how you’re listening to your body” 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. You don’t want your child to tie their ability to pee on the potty with his/her self-esteem so keep it light. The more relaxed and casual I was, the better. I also acted very confident in my child’s ability during potty training, which helped the entire process.
Tip 5: Acknowledge accidents and move on
Almost every child will have accidents during potty training. Even now, Griffin will have the occasional trip up, especially if we’re outside or playing with water, but accept that this is 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!
Kids love fun and you can make just about everything a game. Having the toy prizes was enough for Griffin but some parents find creating a potty song was a great motivator and made it fun. Singing can transform just about any chore or task! You can also put Cheerios in the toilet and have your child aim for them (if he’s a boy) as a little game. Some moms put food coloring in toilet water which excited some kids to go. Some parents make up a little potty party. Be creative while you’re potty training!
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 them. 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. (Oh, the things we do to potty training!)
Tip 8: Consider a naked weekend
Many parents report successful potty training 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 their body. By letting them be au natural, they are more in tune with their bodies, rhythms and body cues. If weather permits, you can go outside and let them play in the backyard naked. This will free you from constantly cleaning up accidents during potty training.
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 your 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. By teaching this pattern during potty training, you’re setting up good rituals that will continue as they get older.
Tip 10: Make them comfortable in public
Some kids are afraid of the automatic flushing toilets in restrooms. They’re loud! And you don’t want this to get in your way of potty training. You can put a “Post It” note 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. (You might want to have some extra cloths in your purse too as some kids are afraid of the electric hand driers :).)
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. I didn’t want his sleep times cut short because he had to go potty. 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 when potty training.
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 during potty training but just remember your child will eventually learn. Whether it’s next week or next year, it will happen. Just keep at it and take breaks if necessary. Each child has his/her own pace and it’s important for us to honor this.
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How about you?
What tips and techniques helped you when potty training your child? Share with us in the comments below so we can learn from each other!