Quick Tip: 5 Things to know (when potty training)

This article is written by Meredith Jameson.

5 Things you should know:

  1. Be patient

  2. Be ready to back off

  3. Be positive

  4. Avoid the negative

  5. Be consitent

1. Be patient!

Yes, zen mamas and daddies, this means you!

There is a lot of pressure out there to potty train kids in the shortest amount of time possible. (see the Potty Training in One Day method )

While this is certainly understandable from a parent's point of view, it's really not reasonable.

In fact, in many instances, it's downright unfair and sometimes even mean.

Potty training is a big, big deal to a kid.

It requires a whole new set of skills and even a whole new way of thinking for a child. (see article on potty training from a child's perspective)

This isn't going to happen overnight.

So when you start down the road of potty training, tell yourself - and your child - that this could take some time. Weeks, months, who knows?

And that's okay.


(Repeat to yourself as needed, especially when mopping yet another puddle off of the floor.)

2. Be ready to back off.

Wouldn't it be nice if your child's progress was continued and steady, without a single setback? Of course.But again, they are learning a big new skill.

When was the last time you learned a skill without faltering a bit once or twice? Exactly.

So be prepared for the "one step forward, two steps back" timeline.

After a day or week (or whatever) of showing improvement, it's very likely the novelty will wear off and your child will realize that hey, this is work.

And hey, this is so much less fun than just having Mom and Dad deal with the diapers.

And they might simply want off this whole potty training bandwagon.

If your child starts to balk about going to the potty, tells you that they do not need to go even when you can see very clearly that they do need to go, or generally starts to refuse to participate, it's time to back off.

Now, this isn't easy.

You were seeing success, you know they can do it, why stop now?

Well, because if you don't, things are going to get much worse.

You do NOT want your little one to dread going to the bathroom. If they dread going, they simply won't go. And that is a whole different problem. (see potty training resistance and potty training regression)

So take a step back.

Let them have an accident or two (but do not chastise them for it!).

Above all, be patient.

Stay consistent with encouraging them and offering them praise and even prizes, but just back down in general until the interest returns.

And it will.

Especially if they don't feel like they are being forced to do it!

3. Be positive!

Now, I'm not saying you should go all annoyingly cheerleader here.

Overdoing it on the praise will annoy (and even startle) everyone.

But it is a good idea to offer incentives, even if they are small. (see potty training charts and potty training rewards)

Stickers have always worked in our household. (see kids temporary tattoos)

I'm not personally a fan of using food as a reward, but I know others who have used small treats like M&Ms as a reward for potty-going.

We are, however, big fans of the Potty Dance when something has happened in the potty.

Doing a short cheer and a dance every time Nathan goes in the potty really encourages him.

Sometimes we do the dance if *we* are the ones who went potty.

Seeing other people get to dance and celebrate makes a kid want it for themselves.

I also tell him how proud I am of him.

Don't underestimate a child's desire to make his parents proud!

4. Avoid the negative.

Obviously, this goes hand in hand with all of the above.

Please, please do not punish your child for having accidents or setbacks.

In addition, do not make negative comments about their urine or bowel movements.

If they start to feel ashamed or scared of what their own body produces, they will start withholding it.

And that can make them very sick...and can make potty training very, very difficult.

Keep things neutral.

Tell your child that going potty is natural, and that everyone does it.

Model the behavior for them, if you're comfortable with it.

And when accidents occur (and they will), simply say "That's okay. Accidents happen."

Clean it up and let them help clean it up, if so inclined.

Sometimes I gently remind Nathan that maybe next time he can tell Mommy BEFORE he has to go potty, instead of after.

Let it go after that.

Save your energy for praising them when they do it right!

5. Be consistent!

I honestly think this is the key to potty training.

Choose how you are going to proceed, and then stay with it. ( see article on How to Potty Train - The five potty training methods)

Now, I'm not saying that you can't or shouldn't waver or change your tactics if they aren't working.

But I do believe that once you decide to potty train, then do potty training.

Don't give up or go back to your old ways just because it gets hard.

You will get so much further if your behavior (gently) tells your child that there's a new game in town.

Stick with it.

It will be worth it,

I promise.

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