My Top Ten Potty Training Tips! I would not consider myself an expert by any means. What I would consider myself is practical. I've also been privy to MANY potty training experiences, as the oldest of 11 children, and now having trained/training 3 of my own (plus those I've babysat/cared for). These are just a few tips I feel are very practical and work, from experience, no matter what "route" you choose to take in the end, as there are enough "methods" out there to make your head spin. Almost all of my experience comes to you courtesy of my mother, who has potty trained a whopping 13 toddlers!
1. Talk it up - The age and readiness of each child will vary greatly. But one thing that will aid in the readiness is the discussion. I won't get all graphic on you here, as I think you get the picture. Discussion about "where we put the pee and poop" are obviously pretty key. If the child does not mentally understand the concept, its not going to happen easily. All discussion should be hyped up to a pretty obnoxious extent. Lots of excitement and !!! used, so they get the idea that this is something you LOVE (and actually, you do), and this is something that is exciting, new and FUN!
2. Use undies - not pull ups. When the child is truly ready to train, go straight to the undies. They need to feel the sensations associated with an accident. Pull ups make that scenario too similar to what they are already familiar with - diapers. I've let each of my three - in advance to beginning training, and as part of the "talk it up" phase, select a brand new package of "cool" undies. Whatever they like or choose. Kenna chose My Little Ponies, Brooks was sports stuff, and Grey chose Cars. Going along with the "talk it up" - you want to keep your Lightning McQueen (etc) dry! You don't want him to get wet! If your house if full of carpeting, you can purchase plastic "underwear", to go over the real ones. It will allow for the full (and awful sensations) of being wet as there is no absorption, but will not allow for as much of a puddle on your floor.
3. Plan your attack - Despite some books claims that you can train your child in one day - I have never found this to be true. It IS a process. However, I do think that it is true that you can knock out the "bulk of the work" in about 5-7 days. Choose wisely when you start, because, if you feel your child is ready, you do not want to have to take a step backwards. For example, 2 weeks before going on vacation or having a new baby is NOT the time to start. Wait until you get home or are settled in with a new schedule. I would probably suggest that you have about a month of "normal" planned for your household, when you start. A month of just the regular daily activities. When you begin to train, you can also start to legislate how much liquids are consumed from approaching dinner time onward. Even if they don't quite night train at the same time (this can take longer), it's never going to hurt to start doing that and getting them on that track.
4. Methods - This is where it helps to be YOU. There are a lot of methods you hear about. From household to household, from child to child even, there may be some differences in methodology that you can adapt. I won't go into the myriads of possibilities, but just a few of the standards - or what I believe to be standards/what I have done. There is so much that could work here, nothing is gospel. Figure it out for what works for you using other Mom's suggestions. Here are mine: Get a small potty and a potty "ring" to go on the big toilet. Use both/have both as options. Undies on body - no pants - for ease and quickness. Because you will have to move quick at times!! It will also save you on laundry:-) and also, depending on the age of the child, they can learn to start pulling up and down their own undies. This is harder to do for kids, with pants on too, so its a great start with just one layer of clothing. Set a timer for about about every 15 minutes, recurring. Every 15 minutes they must sit on the potty, for a little while. Basically because you have to "catch them" when they pee, and because you have to figure out their little patterns. After the first or second day, you can likely scale that back to 30 mins or so. Or have it be every 30, unless you've given them a drink recently, and then make it every 15, etc. Once you've figured out the gist of their patterns you can adapt your timer accordingly. The timer makes it so that you don't forget about them!! And the "riiing" sends them running to try! I loved the little potty for this. I kept it in my living room, and easily accessible. since they will be sitting on it quite a bit - until they've learn to sit and immediately go - you are making them sit until they do go, I found it helped if they were not totally excluded from the regular goings ons. Movie can still be watched, toys can still be played etc. They can also get on and off little potty easily and without help (regardless of location). My potty has a removable (washable) "pee catcher", and a lid that closes on the top, so it's not gross to have hanging out in the living room, it kind of looks like a little plastic stool, when lid is closed. Once you have established their pattern, and they are used to going on potty, you can start to ease up on the timer, and just make them sit at predetermined times (after breakfast and before lunch), but ask them in between those times, lots. If they say no, but then have accidents, then they aren't quite there yet, and you have to up your intervals again, until they've got it. This obviously takes some Mommy time, and lots of conversation about it. While they are sitting on potty, and then they do go, you talk up that sensation of feeling it coming before it came. Once they start getting it and will tell you they have to go, they can usually only hold it for seconds. So run, because it's coming. Having the little potty handy and no pants to contend with makes it easier, and then the "hold it"/"don't let it come out" lessons start to come into play.
BONUS - Going out. Naturally life goes on. It will not be possible to stay in your home for the entire week (or month) of the process. It would also not be possible/would be very rude to have your kid leaving a puddle behind them, everywhere they go. In the initial week, try to limit their going out, but when you take them out, just explain, as you put a diaper on them, that we don't want to have any accidents, and we want to keep the diaper dry. Offer an additional reward if returning home with dry diaper, and keep your Mommy brain on while at the store, and offer them, or take them potty and give them the opportunity to go, making the dry diaper more possible. Church/sunday school. Teachers do not need to train your children. You do. Put a diaper on them so they can focus on the class, however, take your children right before you place them in the class, and then tell the teachers to take them at the normal potty interval (as they usually have 1 or 2 per class at those ages). But then replace the diaper, just in case. I have never noticed any sort of regression at all, by employing this method. The kids are thoroughly indoctrinated on the "whys" of the diaper scenario, and greatly encouraged to treat it as undies. And are rewarded for keeping them dry. When you are very sure they are trained and will tell you - or another adult they do not know well (a teacher) that they have to go, and you are confident in this ability - then it's time to test the waters with going to a class etc, with only undies on! I am smart, careful, and try to remain a step ahead in these situations - and none of my 2 children, have ever had an accident in public, ever. Grey is newer to this process, so I am not counting him yet;-) But so far we're good, fingers crossed!
5. Delays and Mind your definitions: Mommy encouragement - Do not get frustrated. It is possible that your child is too young to anticipate the sensations beforehand, and things may have to be put on hold until they are more ready. This is not a failed attempt, it was successful, in the way that, you know they are not quite capable. Do not become frustrated with the process, if you are, then it's time to put it on hold and resume at a later time. Continue great and exciting discussion on the topic, and it will come. Children are not potty trained, until they no longer have accidents. This is my opinion alone - but, peeing on the potty does not mean you are potty trained. It must also accompany NEVER peeing in your undies. If your child still has 1 accident per week or more, they are not trainED, they are trainING. Other Mom's in your circle may tell you their 18 month old is potty trained, and maybe they are. But don't feel bad. Not everybody defines things in the same way. So while you then feel like a failure because you are not training your child, and maybe your child is not advanced, and maybe blah blah blah. Don't even give it two thoughts. It is possible (although rare) that children are truly trained that young. It is not a competition and has nothing to do with genius levels:-) And chances are - the definition is off. That mom is likely cleaning up MORE than her share of accidents, meaning, her 18 month old has started training, but is not yet trained. (I personally count day trained and night trained separately)
6. Boys - Oh boys! Boys add interest and fun to potty training. They can wield that thing like a fire hose, and unless you want to be cleaning up pee from around the toilet for the next 10 years, teach them to pee sitting down. Using the guard, and the "hold it down" instruction should do the trick. Do not neglect that instruction!! When they are older, taller, and more capable, in your opinion, you can teach the standing/aiming stuff. Also teach them the cleaning stuff. They will not like cleaning it, and will begin to appreciate that you don't either. The biggest factor when standing, is also paying attention. I am not a boy, and really have no idea why it should take so much concentration, but as their eyes and head wander around the room...you get the idea. Brooks generally prefers the standing method, but has (and will again, I'm sure) lose that privilege, due to "how did this even HAPPEN" disaster occurrences. Naturally, the child has no earthly idea. *shakes head*. Teach them the courtesy of the toilet seat, and his future wife will praise you someday. Boys just add a "that is super gross" factor to just about everything they touch in life, so naturally this is no exception:-)
7. Rewards - (and the oops too). Do what motivates your child! Small candy (m&m's, mini marshmallows, etc - anything they think is special and yummy. I shy away from anything that takes too long to eat, or is visibly noticeable to other children like a lollipop), sticker charts, a bigger reward (toy etc) for a certain number of stickers etc. Lots of high fives, I'm so proud of yous, you are the bests, etc. As they get the hang of it, you can lessen the reward, so you would get one candy at the end of the day, if dry all day, instead of one candy for each little pee. Don't make a big deal about the accidents, just a "uh oh" voice, of "oh no, what happened? We have to run to the potty! We don't let the pee pee come out. Now we have to clean the mess". They can help, or get a towel, but deal with it without much fanfare. Getting angry, or showing lack of patience about the accidents sends a message that you don't want. They are young, they are learning, and they are trying. And you are at least 20-something years older than they are. Don't get bent out of shape over an accident. You want them to come running when they are peeing, but if met with anger or incredible disgust over an accident, you just may be encouraging them to hide it, and not tell you. You want them to learn, you don't want them to feel like they disappointed you. Cleaning up lots of accidents is not fun, and will make you want to scream sometimes. But it will pass, and you'll live. There will be many such accidents over the years. Learn to deal with your emotions in the moment, and it will serve you well in the future too. After all, this is only pee. When they are 16, the "accident" could involve your car and their lives. Save the drama for when you need it, perhaps;-)
BONUS - Products - choose carefully so you don't waste your money. I would personally not want a small potty that did not have a lid (because it looks grosser, and other children could potentially get into a mess). I inherited my little potty from my mom, I believe she bought it in 1990 or there abouts. It's Fischer Price and will last many many more years!:-) If you have boys, or ever will have a boy, make sure the pee-guard thing is sufficient. Some that they make are NOT. It needs to provide adequate coverage/come up high enough to block that whole area:-). Same goes for the potty ring for a regular toilet. Remove the guard if using for a girl, but don't lose it, you'll need it someday! I have never used those flushable wipes, because they seem to me, a girl on a budget, to be an extreme waste of money. But...whatever you choose to use, just make sure it works for you and your needs.
8. Night time training - Some kids just get it. They day and night train at the same time. If you limit beverages from 4pm onward to bedtime, and they wake up with a dry diaper 7 days in a row, leave it off, and see how they do. They've likely got it! If not, put a diaper back on for night time, and even nap time, especially if they are deep sleepers or nap for a long time. Sometimes this just takes time to kick in. Kids can be fully day trained at 2, but not night trained until 4, perhaps. It depends on each child and their brains ability to wake from a deep sleep. Sometimes it comes with age and time. Don't make a big deal about "scolding" for nighttime accidents. They can't help it, and aren't doing it on purpose. Dispose of the diapers and move on. You will notice as they age (and you control the liquids), that it will change. IF IT DOES NOT - by the time your child is about 5 (although, pediatricians will not consider this an "issue" until your child is 6 or 7 years old) - but depending on the maturity of the child in other aspects, I feel like 6 or more is a little too "old" - they are no longer babies, and will resent the diaper situation. There is something you can use. My mom discovered this years ago! We call it "the beeper". Basically, some kids just cannot stir out of that deep sleep, they just can't. Maybe they'd be 15 before they did, who knows. We don't want to wait that long. All the packaging says not to use it before 5 years of age (give your body and brain a fair chance to figure it out and develop. This is not for 2 year olds). Kenna night trained perfectly. Brooks struggled with it. On his 5th birthday, I ordered this. He was still wetting the bed 4-5 days of 7, so I decided an intervention would solve the problem. How it works - it hooks to undies (no diapers), and has a very sensitive sensor. Even a drop of wet, and it goes off like a siren, and it vibrates. So the sensor is linked to a pager like device that clips to shirt - and as soon as they wet BOOM. It will mean mom gets less sleep - as you have to get up, wake the child - yes, they do sleep through that alarm even!! And make them aware of what is happening, and take them to the toilet. It becomes like a pavlov's dogs situation. Your brain will subconsciously associate the feeling of going with the alarm and the vibration and it will wake you up. It took about a week for the alarm to wake him, and another week of the alarm waking him, but soon enough that he could still make it to the bathroom without a big accident. And that was done. 2 weeks with the beeper, and he's never had an accident since. It's kind of a miracle worker, really! I highly recommend this product for any child that struggles with night time training as they get older. The packaging states it takes 2 months, so our results might not be typical, or maybe they are being very careful with their estimations. But there is no reason to let it continue and potentially embarrass the child to any extent, when the fix is so quick and easy. It is also important to note that this is NOT something that the child can help, nor, as I mentioned already, does it have anything to do with their level of competency in other areas.
9. Accidents - Be smart. If you have only 1 room with carpeting in it, and it's possible to avoid that room, do it. If you have a few areas rugs under tables, coffee tables etc. Roll them up for a few weeks. You know there will be accidents, so plan as much as you can for them. While in undies, a "newby" is NOT allowed to sit on my green couch (microfiber), but is only allowed on the black couches (leather, more easily cleaned) etc. If it is critically important that you never have an accident on the carpet (say, if you are renting or something) - than that is fine. You will have to go a different route (using pull ups perhaps) and know that although the process will happen eventually, it will take you longer, and will require more diligence on your part. There is no perfectly right way to do this. Everything depends on everything else. You have to do what is best for your family, child, and situation. Be respectful of others property. Just because you don't mind a mess on your floor doesn't mean you friend has the same views. Keep a change of clothes in your diaper bag or purse or vehicle. Plan for the worst, in other words, while all the while planning for it never to happen:-)
10. For older children - (or difficult ones). There are some times when either age or understanding and maturity make accidents unacceptable. Hopefully you never have to deal with any of those stubborn children:-) Who knows WHY on earth a child would decide that pooping their pants is "fun" or whatever, but they do, sometimes. A power struggle? Who knows what they are thinking, or what they hope to gain. Generally speaking, potty training is all positive. Children are not reprimanded in a serious way, or punished, for an accident. It's all just "oh no! We run to the potty!" blah blah blah. It is meant to teach and instruct and bring awareness, and not meant to truly make them feel bad:-) There will reach a point though, when enough is enough. There are a few tactics one can take. You may need to look into what to do - you know your child best. Are they being willful, or lazy, or spiteful, or ?? This can give you an idea of how to proceed with curbing their current issues. A few things, that would probably universally helpful in the case of the older, stubborn child. Don't make the "clean up" time an enjoyable one. Do not use soft warm wipes, and lotions. I'm not saying you should yell either, but generally, try to match the unpleasantness of the situation. As unpleasant as it is for you to clean poop out of underwear - match that on their end. A cold washcloth perhaps. Making them clean their mess (supervision, and cleanliness tips on-going would be required. It is amazing how they shudder to think that they should have to touch it). A barely warm/cold bath. Something that would be considered fairly shocking to the child, and get the point across, of course always in love. I am in no way suggesting being unkind or losing your temper. But oftentimes "extreme" measures need to be taken so that the child will realize that this behaviour is not acceptable, and will not be met with a sunshine and roses response, like in the past when they were young children. Like I said, hopefully you never have one of these children! When Kenna was training, I would obviously put a diaper on her for naps and nighttime, and every single time, she would poop in it. In fact, she never pooped on the potty, and saved it up for the diaper. So I explained to her the way it goes. She was fairly young (still under 3 years old), and so we had a conversation. If you can do it in one place on purpose, you surely can do it in another. She got to skip her nap. However, she had to spend the entire nap time, and more, if needed sitting on the toilet. I did not make it unpleasant...I set up a tv tray in front of her. She had books and toys and games at her disposal, but she was not allowed off the toilet, until she went, because I knew, based on prior patterns, that she had to go. The first day, it took her 1.5 hrs to go, and there was much praise and rejoicing. The second day, it took her about 45mins to go, again much fanfare. The 3rd day, she did not go after an hour, and I let her go on her own recognizance:-) She was fine after that, it totally got her over her issue, but in a way that was not entirely unpleasant for her. Get creative!