Just how do you tell when your child is ready to use the potty? Every child is different but there are a few key indicators to watch for:
1. Has your little one started to show interest in his/her potty?
2. Does your little one tell you when he/she pees or poos in his/her diaper?
3. Does he/she follow you to the bathroom and ask questions?
4. Does he/she look for privacy to poo?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, it might be time to start the training process. But remember, don’t get hung up on these indicators if you find your child doesn’t have any interest. Kids will definitely let you know when they’re ready if you choose to let them lead the transition process.
Another factor to consider is your child’s age. While some parents choose to start at 18 months, the average starting age is around two years of age. But again, this is just a guideline and not a rule. As I mentioned, all children are different. Rest assured that like us, they will learn at some point!
So now that your little one is ready, now what? Miss O and I are in the training process and here’s a list of things that we’re currently using.
Choose a process that works for you and your child
There are two main strategies that I’ve encountered during this process. You can either ease toddlers into the process gradually with occasional trips to the potty or pick a weekend when you’ll have two to three uninterrupted days at home to put them in underwear and prepare for a few accidents. Some parents swear by the second method because kids figure out that they don’t like being in wet clothes and decide that they need to head to the potty to avoid future accidents. Miss O and I have tried the second method but I found the first works best for us, less pressure since she’s learning at her own pace.
Patience is the key to success
After weeks of progress your little one might seem to regress and want nothing to do with the potty. After weeks of progress Miss O didn’t seem as enthusiastic about the process which surprised me at first. If you’ve encountered this it’s completely natural, give them space and let them set the pace. It’s a new process and will take time for them to adapt. After at least two years in diapers, switching to the potty is an adjustment. They may need a break but be sure to keep encouraging them to ensure the process remains consistent. I’m happy to report that Miss O is back on track!
Consistency is the name of the game
When you’re at home with your child, ask them or take them to the potty consistently throughout the day. Consistency may be different for every family but every hour or two is a good start. Whether or not they actually have to use the potty each time they’ll at least become familiar with the routine. Also, if your child is in daycare, consult with them to understand how they approach potty training. Having their assistance helps ensure that while you aren’t with your little one, the lessons you’re trying to introduce and sustain are being followed.
With consistency comes routine
During the week, ask your child to use the potty first thing in the morning or just before bed at night. They’ll begin to expect each trip and you’ll be surprised to see that they actually use these times to use the potty.
Lead by example
OK, this one depends on how comfortable you are with your toddler seeing you in the bathroom but let’s be honest, when’s the last time you used the bathroom in private anyway? If they’re in there with you, explain what Mommy’s doing so that when it’s their turn they’ll have more understanding of what using the potty entails.
Lay on the praise
when your child does use the potty for the first time (and thereafter), make a big deal out of it. Call them a superstar or a big boy or girl, clap your hands, do a little happy dance. Whatever it takes. This confidence boost will encourage them to continue using the potty and they’ll love the attention.
Rewards make a difference
In addition to laying on the praise, reward your child every time they use the potty. Miss O LOVES stickers so she gets a new one every time she has a successful trip to the potty. What does your child enjoy? To ensure you have a few things on hand, buy in bulk. The dollar store is your friend! Small toys (not too small so as to avoid choking) and candies or cookies are great if that’s what your little one enjoys. Kids will quickly figure out that a trip to the potty results in their favourite treat. An alternative to on demand treats is to establish a day of the week where you treat your little one with a special snack or activity (ex. Saturday afternoon movies) to keep them encouraged.
Make it fun
When you DO make trips to the potty, toddlers need to be encouraged to stay on the potty. Having a basket full of books they enjoy or toys will keep them distracted just long enough to use the potty while they’re in there! Surrounding them with things they love will make it an enjoyable activity.
Move from diapers to pull-ups
As your toddler gets older, teaching independence is important to their development. By switching from diapers to pull ups, they’ll be better able to prep for potty time. Some parents may choose to skip pull ups all together and use underwear. If this is the approach you choose, include your little one in the purchase of their new underwear, let them choose what they like. They’ll feel proud of their big boy or big girl underwear!
Keep the potty in a convenient place
No one says you have to keep your potty in the bathroom. If your toddler spends most of their time in the family room, move the potty there. The more often they see the potty the more likely they are to be willing to use it. Miss O’s potty was in our family room in the early days, she loved watching Dora the Explorer while sitting on it!
Be prepared when out and about
Portable potty seats or seat covers (we use Disney Princess Disposable Seat Covers when we’re on the go) are must haves. Not only do the seats ensure your little one’s bottom is comfortable but they also keep germs in public washrooms at bay. If your little one is in underwear vs. Pull-Ups, remember to pack extra clothes just in case of an accident. Remember, ask them to use the potty before leaving the house.
Now that they’ve got it, back off
Once your little one is comfortable going by themselves or telling you that they need to go, trust that they’ve got it. Continuously asking may frustrate and deter them from sticking to their new found skill. They’re becoming independent individuals and treating them as such gives them a confidence boost. Miss O and I aren’t quite here yet but she’s telling me when she needs to pee before she has to go which is great progress.
So that’s it! We’ve been training gradually for the last 4 months or so and her daycare has been extremely supportive during the process. Seeing other children use the potty during the day also encourages her to keep working on it. Hopefully these tips help you during your potty training adventure. Happy training! What methods have worked for your little ones so far?