Potty Training 101

Potty Training…that mysterious word that either fills us with expectation or dread. How do you know when the right time is? When do you start? So many questions make this milestone in a child’s life foreboding to many moms. You hear everything from waiting long to introduce the subject to your young little one, to starting from birth with infant potty training. So what is the right approach?

Well, here is the best kept secret in town. There isn’t one. You read that right, there is not one way that is the only way. As long as your child is potty trained before they are married, you have done just fine. Actually, there are times when you wonder if that will really happen, but I can almost guarantee that your child will not still need potty training when he takes his college entrance exams. For those interested in more resources, there are books out there both on how to potty train in a day (but keep in mind not every child will do this, even when you do everything “right”), as well as books on infant potty training.

But for now, here are a few brief tips to help you get started.

1. Talk to your child positively about being a “big boy” or “big girl” for awhile before you begin potty training. Let him/her observe mom or dad and make him comfortable with the whole process, so that it is not scary or a new idea for him. If there is an older sibling sometimes just watching that older one does amazing things in teaching the younger sibling.

2. Do not rush into potty training for peer pressure reasons. Some children just are not ready. Do not feel that because your child has now just turned 2 that they have to fit a profile. Or because their little friend is now trained, yours should be too.

3. Try to potty train for a day or two and if it is not “clicking” set it aside (continuing to talk about it positively) for awhile and try again in a couple months or so.

4. Before the big day, purchase your rewards, such as organic juice, raisins, organic fruit snacks, and M&Ms. Choose what would best motivate your child. Also, go shopping with your child and get “big boy underwear” or “big girl panties”. Find their favorite characters or something they will be thrilled with wearing.

5. On potty training day, plan nothing else to do on that day. Be in a spot in your house where messes and wets are easily cleaned up. Have your potty on hand (whether free standing or on the big potty) and your snacks/juice handy.

For the whole day start filling your child with water, juice and raisins. Make it a fun day for your child. Read books, play games together and enjoy! I prefer at this point the “bare bottom” approach. Let the child just run around in their shirt so they may figure out what is going on faster.

Every 20-30 minutes put your child on the potty and encourage them to try to go. Sit there with them and read a book together. Never scold them for messes, but encourage them “Uh-oh, it’s ok.” “Where does this go? In the potty, that’s right!” And keep going. Stay positive!

Praise, praise, praise when there is a successful experience! This is where the snacks come in handy. Have a fruit snack or a jelly bean as a reward for pottying and M&M’s as a reward to poo-pooing. Make a big deal over it. Clap, jump and hooray for the big event.

6. Some children will train in one day this way, others after 2 or 3 days still have not had it “click”. That’s ok, do not get discouraged. Since life has to move on ease up from the “boot camp” of potty training at this point. Continue to talk much about it in a positive, comfortable way. Never belittle your child for an accident. At this point when around the house, you can try the bare bottom again, or underwear. When you go out you can put more protection on. Do not get discouraged and realize that one day it will finally “click”. And when it does, you will be amazed at how easily they learn.

Remember Mom, your child will one day be trained. Relax, enjoy this time, treasure their toddler-hood and that milestone will come in time.

Jenny is a blessed mother of soon to be 7 little ones, from ages 13 down to the newest due in April. Visit her blog, A Mothers Heritage, that is designed to encourage women of all ages.

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