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Potty Training 101

I feel that moms and dads are their own children's experts. You know when your child isn't feeling himself. You know when he is likely in trouble. You know how to transition him from one activity to the next best. These are all proofs that you know more about your child than anybody else. Your brain has a lot of information stored and can make decisions quickly as to what is best for your child.

When it comes to potty training, I feel you are still the expert. This doesn't mean you will always know what to do or that you know everything about potty training. But you do know a lot about your child and can best filter what will and will not work.

You can come up with better motivational techniques than anybody else. You know how to phrase your words, how to sing a tune, how to communicate with your child better than any "professional expert" who has never even met your child.

So here is a collection of Potty Training idea starts. Please, tuck away the ones that ring true for you and discard the rest. Everyone's take away will be slightly different based on you, your child, and the family's dynamics and personalities.

Early Potty Learning Skills:
  • Practice with clothing: Even before your child gets the whole peeing in the potty skills. Give the child opportunity to pull up and down pants in the morning and at night during dressing. Once they start figuring out the potty keep child's clothing loose and easy to get up and down. Offer help with clothing if they are dancing to go potty.
  • Flushing poop: If you have started potty training or even if your child is still in diapers, when your child poos practice dumping and flushing the poop with your child. This helps your child connect where poop goes as well as makes sounds of flushing less of a surprise.
  • Washing hands: Help your child wash their hands after diaper/potty training changes.
  • Language: Work to help your child learn the terms your family will use in relation to potty training. Learning the terms is key to good communication.
  • Exposure:Let your child be exposed to what it means to go potty. I know that for you going to the bathroom may be your only moment of peace. But find a way to make sure your child is familiar with what a toilet is for and how real humans use it.
  • Practice Pre-Potty Training Skills: some skills can be easily practiced before potty training really begins.

Ways to Build Communication:
  • Have a potty mouth: Start talking about the potty, going potty, going poop. Talk about it when you are going potty, when your child has gone potty. Your child needs to have an understanding of what we want them to do and language is an integral part of human understanding.
  • Signing Time: Have you already started using signs for drink, all done, milk, etc. consider continuing to use sign for better communication during potty training. A great resource is the Signing Time DVD.
  • Mimicry: Consider allowing or encouraging your child to sit on the potty and read a board book or two when you yourself need to use the potty. If you are eating meals together, it is likely that your elimination happens at a similar time.
  • Potty Play: Get your dollhouse figures to the potty on time. Incorporate potty time into play time. Cars can go potty, horses, dinosaurs, fisher price people, of course.
  • Books: Time to find some good books about potty time. Go beyond the Potty Time for Him or a Her. You can get pirates, animals and all kinds of other fun stories about potty training.
  • Be an Model:Start announcing your own trips to the potty. Say, "I've got to go potty." Let the whole family join into the announcements. This models what you are asking your child to do when they need to go potty.
  • Firsts things first:If you can get your child on the potty first thing upon waking you will likely have a successful pee. Think about your own need to pee in the morning and take your child too.
  • Mornings: Try to initiate potty time in the mornings when the child is fresh. By afternoon, your child starts to tire and it is harder to learn something new then. If you are noticing your child having success in the morning and accidents in the afternoon, they haven't forgotten; they are just tired. Start again the next day or after naptime.
  • Before Bath Time:Sitting on the toilet before bath time is an easy little habit to start and pee success is sometimes a good result you can build from.
  • Consider an App: Does you child tend to always poop at the same time and you realize it about 5 minutes too late. Use an app and schedule a reminder for yourself to get a jump on it.
  • Transition Times:Sometime an already set transition opens the door for an easier potty time. If your child already has to wash his hands before dinner, consider a potty try and then washing hands and moving on to dinner. Any transition could be implemented.
Potty Training Supply List:
  • Cloth Training Pants:Using cloth training pants helps your child feel like a big kid (no paper feeling, no bulky cloth diaper either). They also have the advantage of your child feeling the wetness associated with peeing.
  • Get the potty chair or seat: You can't have the potty chair too early. Let them know its there and what it is for; talk about it. Make sure that it is not scary new when you want to start potty training.
  • Spare clothes:I really suggest cloth training pants because it will make outfit changes rare. But you might want to keep spares in the car. Stretchy pants that can match any shirt are a good idea.
  • Wet bag: You want a safe waterproof bag to put wet trainers or wet clothes in to get them home. This bag will be useful when your child starts swim lessons as well.
  • Motivational Rewards: If you feel your child will respond well to rewards, then be sure to add these to your supply list. Depending on your child you might use stickers, small chocolate, small toy, a video, or a book.

Attitude and Approach:
  • Evaluate Expectations: Rome wasn't built in a day and it is hard to learn something well in a weekend seminar. Consider that little steps over a longer time frame tend to make experts of us all. Cramming for a test often only had short term gains. Celebrate the small successes don't expect a Disney-like transformation.
  • Peer Pressure: Does your child have friends who are getting the hang of potty training? Invite them over one morning and let your child watch and learn from them. Let them celebrate the ones success. Only try this if your child already shows a inclination to copy others when learning new things.
  • Be Sensitive: Some children want you next to them the whole time and don't want you to leave; others don't want somebody watching them. Consider that this doesn't change when they get older some kids thrive on working together with a parent and other kids loathe it.
  • Motivate: Offering small incentives is a parenting coping method in many situations. Potty training can be urged along similarly but only if your child is motivated this way. Stickers and small treats are of no interest to some kids but others love seeing the sticker chart grow. This is another moment of parental insight for the future.
  • Don't Threaten: Threats don't work. Many toddlers can't even understand a threat...if you don't do this then you won't get that. Gosh, some teenagers don't get it either.
  • Distract: Some children's brains run a mile a minute and taking time to go potty is boring. Reading them a book on the potty or letting them watch a short video clip, might engage their brain enough to sit still for 2 minutes. I used this with timed pooping. I knew they were going to poop in the next 5 I was a little preemptive while the child was making the connection.
  • Tools: Recognize that each idea/potty-training tool is just that a tool. Choose the best ones at the time and don't think that there is only one right tool.