5 Helpful tips for potty training

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Toilet paper roll folded into a heart

It’s a big deal for both the kids and the parents when it’s time for potty training. Being in control of their basic functions in this way is a major milestone in a child’s development and a parent’s parenting role, and it can be both exciting and sometimes frustrating.

Here are some tips and ideas to help make the transition smoother for everyone involved:

  1. Patience, Patience, Patience

    The first thing you need to keep in mind is potty training kids takes time and patience. Probably the biggest factor in smooth and successful potty training is the child’s readiness. There’s not necessarily a specific age that is the right age to begin, and if you try to do it too early, it may take longer and be more frustrating for everyone. So don’t feel like you need to rush your child.

    Most kids have an interest in it by around age 2, but some can take til more like 2 1/2 years old or older before they are ready to take this next step. Encourage them, but don’t feel a pressure to rush them into it – they’ll do it when they’re ready. Figure the process may take around 3-6 months

  2. Signs they’re ready

    If they can follow basic directions and are able to do the mechanics like pulling down their pants, sitting on the seat, getting back up and pulling up their pants again, that’s a good sign that they may be ready.

  3. Signs they want to

    If they’re able to stay dry for more than 2 hours, communicate when he or she needs to go – either through words or body language, complain when they have dirty diapers, or if wearing “big boy” or “big girl” underwear seems exciting to them, and they seem interested in the toilet and how it works, these are all good indications your child may be ready to begin potty training.

  4. Make it fun

    Hey, even adults have trouble with “aiming” sometimes. Make it a fun game for your little guy and take one family’s idea of throwing a couple Cheerios in the toilet bowl and telling him to aim at them. When he succeeds, he can pick a dollar store prize.

  5. Make it naked

    Some families find success by having their kids have a “walk around naked” (or in just a t-shirt) phase at home – for some kids, it’s easier to remember to use the potty if they’re naked, but more difficult if they’re clothed. The reason this helps some kids remember is that without a diaper, underwear, or pants, well that stuff’s gotta go somewhere! “Oh, the toilet! That’s a good place for it to go!”

When they’re able to start remembering and getting the “cues” that they need to go use the potty, you can reintroduce clothes gradually – just some cool “big kid” underwear they’ve earned the right to wear that they can show off at first, then pants, then back into full clothing with no more accidents!

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