This is How to Potty Train: The Basics

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Photo By Tomsickova Tatyana/shutterstock

Throughout a child’s early life there are many firsts: the first tooth, the first time they walk, their first word – the list goes on. And then once we’ve navigated all those baby firsts, with all their troubles and trials, THEN it’s time to potty train! Let’s have a look at how you can best approach potty training your little one.

Many families feel daunted by the potty training task. There are so many methods, tools, and gadgets – but which ones will work best for your child and your family? It is important to understand that because no child is the same, your approach to toilet training must be individualized. The biggest question you need to ask yourself before you begin is, “Are we ALL ready?” Here are three areas to focus on before you take the “plunge” into potty training!

Know the Signs of Potty Training Readiness

Every child has different developmental milestones, and potty training is one of them. Thus, do not compare yourselves to other families. When your child is ready then that is their time! There are three areas you want to observe before you start to train:

Their diaper. Are they dry for more than a 2-hour stretch or are they waking up from naps more dry than not?

Their bowel movements. You want their bowel movements to be on a somewhat consistent schedule, whether it be every morning or every other day. You want to know exactly what that schedule is.

Body awareness. Is your child aware of their body parts and able to name them? Does your child announce if they need to go potty or went potty? Are they able to undress themselves (pull their pants up and down on their own)?

All of these areas indicate your little is aware of their body and actions, and is able to successfully potty train!

Get Yourself in the Right Mindset for Potty Training

Toilet training is not only a change for your toddler, but it’s also an adjustment for your entire family and caregivers. You should make sure that everyone is of the same mindset and ready to work together. Being potty trained is a huge deal, so start to notice other “grown up” things your toddler does (drinking from a big cup, dressing themselves, following 1-2 step directions), and praise them for those milestones as well.

You also want to make sure to create an environment for success. Start by gathering all of the tools and supplies that you will need for potty training, and check your calendar. Trying to change such a major part of your child’s day is a lot for them. Do not plan to train during another time of change, such as school starting or the arrival of a new baby. And be sure that you’ll have at least 2 weeks at home – no vacations or major life events planned.

Use Positive Reinforcement in Potty Training

When you begin this journey, you’ll need to take it literally one hour at a time. Do not set yourself up for unrealistic expectations. The way you first introduce potty training to your child will forever be your foundation. Make it a fun, exciting time – not a stressful one!

You are teaching a behavior, and the best way to do that is to reward the behavior. Make sure you have developed a reward system for the potty that makes your child feel like they have instant success. Start your rewards small and then grow them as the behavior improves. For example: One sticker for sitting on the potty. Once your child is sitting, then expand the reward to one sticker for sitting and one sticker for going on the potty. Let your child set the pace and take the lead. Any routine you use, make sure the end result leads to the potty. An established routine creates consistency. Consistency is a key to successfully potty training.

Remember, if you do not succeed at first, don’t worry. It is extremely important to always be “PC” – positive and consistent. If you maintain those, everything else will fall into place. We all did it – most adults walk around potty trained, so you know it will happen!

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Catherine Lessman, owner and operator of Miss Catherine LLC, started her company to help parents tackle the challenges we face with early childhood development. Potty Training, Healthy Eating Habits and Sleep Challenges. Working in Early Childhood for many years and having a background in Child Development, she began to see how frustrated parents and children would become with certain developmental milestones we all need to meet. It has been her pleasure to help families tackle these milestones and enjoy them at the same time. She helps families all over the country with individual consulting, group workshops, and on social media to get them through the trials that comes along with parenthood.

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