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Potty Training Tips

My friend Syl is working on potty training her two girls. Since I am somewhat of a potty training guru from my five years of toddler room work, I thought I'd do a post about it in order to help her gather some techniques. Please share your experiences and tips with her too.

I've trained a wide variety of children, both girls and boys ranging in age from 18 months to 3 years. Over the five years of daycare I did I'd say I potty trained at least 40 children (probably more). The children I taught were all fairly well potty trained before they moved up to the preschool room (usually about 33 months old at the time). Not all of them asked to go potty when they needed to go. I call it potty trained when children can stay dry with an occasional reminder to try to go potty. While that's not necessarily required in most day care settings, it sure helps make it much easier for the teachers to deal with the larger teacher/child ratio.

How did I do it?

1. The MOST important thing is for ALL care providers to be on the same page. There is nothing worse for a new potty trainer than inconsistency. Discuss with your partner/child's care provider that you are potty training and the techniques you are employing. If you are not all ready to commit it is fairly likely that there will be potty training issues. They may be some otherwise, but if everyone expects the same thing it will be much less stressful for the child. Communication is key. If things change, keep each other aware.

2. Model the desired behavior. It was easier to help show my own children figure out how to go potty because I could take them and have them sit on a potty chair while I went potty. Not really something that you'd really want to do with someone else's kids.... If you don't have that luxury, then there are some other tips you can use.

3. Take them to the bathroom when they wake up. They need to be awake to go potty when they get older. If you catch them right after they get up from either a nap or sleeping, it makes a wonderful first success.

4. Give them something they really like to motivate them to WANT to go potty. It can be hard to get them in the habit of peeing in their diaper. I have found bribery works well for this. We often used candy- a smartie, skittle, or m and m for example though raisins would work great too. Another "treat" they may appreciate is one on one time with an adult reading or game playing are a few favorites. I gave one for #1 and two for #2 though you can do what works for you. I placed these "treats" in a clear plastic container and reserved them for potty training only. It needs to be a special thing for them.

Once the child is successful at going potty, I praised them profusely and give them their "treat".

At first it didn't matter if their diaper was wet or dry to get a treat, but as they became more and more successful, I explained to them they needed to keep their diaper dry to get a treat.

After they are dry most of the time, discontinue the treats and give them special underwear instead. I explained that big girls (or boys) wore big girl (boy) underwear. I also really talked them up to be proud of their accomplishment. Potty training is a huge deal and it should be treated that way.

5. Some children discover they HATE the feeling of being wet. For those children, underwear are the best way to get them potty trained. If you don't like those messes make sure to use plastic diaper covers to help contain the mess. I just loved the cloth training pants with the vinyl lining built right into them because the offending material had a tougher time escaping from that than underwear.

6. Watch a movie or read books about potty training. These are age appropriate and geared towards young children. There are many fascinating resources out there. Check your local library. Your child's pediatrician may also have some wonderful recommendations.

7. Have them pick out the underwear they want to wear. This is a great way to excite your young one to stay dry.

8. Establish a pattern. If you watch them they can do some weird things that tell you they're getting ready to do something. Hiding and making funny faces are two ways to check their pattern. Once you know they're ready at certain times to do their duty, it makes things easier to get them to the bathroom at the proper times. Some people go to the bathroom shortly after eating a meal or snack. The pattern is different for different people so it's not always completely predictable.

Remind a new trainer to use the potty AND before going outside. It seems that especially cool weather brings out the need for release to potty trainer's bladders.

9. Talk to them about how they feel. You may think it is hard to talk to a young child about this stuff, but they really DO understand. Why do they hide? Once you help them to figure out these things are normal signs that their body uses to tell them to go potty you'll find it's easier than you thought to potty train.

10. Don't push them if they aren't ready. It doesn't help to belittle them or shame them into going potty, this will only serve to create bigger issues. They will go when they are ready. Expose them early and often so they can figure out when the time is right for them. You will know when they're ready by the frequency of their successes.

Thank you for stopping by. Please leave me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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