Potty Training Toddlers
Potty training is a huge milestone for both your child and yourself. It shows that your child is becoming independent, and that you are effectively parenting. The process of potty training will be different for every child, depending on their age, gender, and other factors. Having your child stop their dependency on diapers and you for changing them will allow you both to create a more positive relationship as well.
Although your child is the one making the big change, potty training requires patience, work, and adaptability for you as well. Even if you have successfully potty trained a child in the past, that way might not work at all for another.
The first thing you have to ask of yourself and your toddler is “am I ready, and are they ready?” Knowing what to look for and how to decide it’s time to start will make the process easier for everyone involved. Let’s look at all that’s involved in Potty Training Toddlers.
How to Start Potty Training Toddlers
Potty Training Age
No matter what method you choose to follow, you first have to recognize that your child is at the appropriate stage in development to begin potty training. Like anything, this can differ dramatically from child to child. Child development as a whole includes suggested periods and guidelines, but it is never exact for every child.
Some children have the cognitive and physical skills to start potty training as early as a year and half in age, but most parents find waiting until two to three years more appropriate. When your child is under a year old, they do not have control of their bladder or bowels. Even if your child seems ready at this age, they will not physically be able to be potty trained.
Starting too early can lead to frustration for the both of you.
Potty Training Readiness
Once your child has reached an age where potty training becomes appropriate, you should look for certain signs that indicate increasing independence and readiness. Physical readiness is especially important, as bladder and bowel control are key to potty training, regardless of the child’s interest or compliance.
Some signs to look for include coordination in walking and possibly running, urinating a larger amount at one time, having regular and well-formed bowel movements, and having periods of dryness that last two or more hours or during naps. These physical indicators suggest your child is developed enough to begin recognizing their need to go and understanding the physical process behind it.
Another important physical factor you should consider is their strength and motor skills- they should be able to pull down their own pants, sit down on the toilet or potty chair, pull their pants back up, and rise from sitting.
Potty training is not a purely physical process. Children are especially expressive and emotional, and development in those areas will help tell you if they are ready. Cognitive skills are also important. If your child is able to communicate their needs, especially regarding their bathroom behavior and comfort, that is a good start.
They should be able to tell you, through words or facial expression, that they need the bathroom, or that they have wet or soiled themselves. Understanding and knowing how to say whatever words you choose to represent urination and defecation will also help. Since potty training your toddler involves quite a bit of teamwork, communication is important.
If your toddler indicates interest in your bathroom or underwear habits, this shows that they are beginning to understand that older people “go” differently than them. A child showing a sense of pride will be easier to potty train, as they will be proud and more motivated to continue. Your toddler should be cooperative and understand basic instructions as well.
When your toddler begins to show indications of their readiness, you will know that potty training will start soon. Children want to learn, so embracing their desire or interest in this area is important. Your toddler might not show adequate readiness until a later age, but that is not a concern for most children.
As said before, each and every child is different, both in their development and needs. As you begin the potty training process, always remember to keep a positive attitude and stay motivated through setbacks or changes. Make sure you let others that are involved with your child, such as caregivers, that you are potty training and that they should assist as they can.
Potty Training Tips for Boys and Girls
Toddlers of different genders have different needs, both physically and emotionally. At this age, boys and girls are fairly similar in emotional development, but their physical needs differ- especially when it comes to using the bathroom. Although both parents should be involved if possible, letting a male guardian have a large part is important to potty train a boy, but it is just as possible with any parent involved.
Potty Training Tips for Boys
Toddlers learn a lot through observation and mimicking. This is no different for potty training. Allowing your toddler to watch the male guardian use the bathroom will allow them to make the connection that girls and boys go differently. This will allow you to introduce the basic mechanics of how boys use the bathroom, such as standing whilst peeing or cleanliness. Basic anatomy is also a very important thing to teach at this stage.
Your toddler should be able to refer to his genitals and differentiate from other body part names. You may wish to use a term like “pee-pee” or something else instead of “penis”, but doing so can cause him to think of his genitals as embarrassing, since other parts do not have silly names.
This is an area where it differs for every child and family- use terms you are comfortable with, but teach your toddler with confidence and correct terminology as well. Letting them know that “pee-pee” is another way to say “penis” will give you both a way to refer to it, but also will give them the basic anatomical term.
Another tip is making sure your equipment is appropriate for his “equipment”. A potty seat that is comfortable for a girl might not be comfortable for a boy. Make sure that the potty seat, whether it is a standalone potty or a seat for your toilet, is an appropriate size and that he can lean forward comfortably.
Many children are afraid of “falling in”, but adding a physical discomfort such as the potty touching his genitals will not help. Some potty seats orientated towards boys have a urine guard, which can cause scrapes and pain. You do not want your toddler to associate anything negative with using the potty.
Bowel movements and urination, especially for children, often occur at the same time. Because of this, you should teach sitting down before standing up. This helps your toddler understand that both are waste products that belong in the potty. Once he is comfortable with sitting to go to the bathroom, you can try to teach him how to urinate when standing up.
This is not necessary as boys can urinate sitting down, and you may find that standing up increases the mess you have to clean up. Waiting until your toddler is a bit older may help. Again, although it is not necessary, having a male role model can make understanding this easier.
Potty Training Tips for Girls
Girls tend to learn potty training successfully a few months before boys, especially if they have older siblings. This does not mean you have to force potty training earlier on your toddler if they are a girl- make sure you are confident that they are ready.
Toddlers are notorious for having periods of resistance or rebellion. It may be during the “terrible 2s” or it may occur whenever. Girl toddlers sometimes go through this more, or with more intensity.
Emotional development begins earlier for girls, and that shows when they start to test boundaries, understanding, and leadership. You should always make sure any toddler is in a stage of compliance, but this is especially important for girls. do not try to push them if all they say is “no” or “I do not want to”.
This will not help them learn, and it will make you both become frustrated and lose motivation.
Just like boys, girl toddlers learn from observation and mimicking. Having them see both a male and female guardian use the bathroom can clear up confusion, and will also make anatomy introduction easier.
Make sure you teach them the correct and proper anatomical terms before you start calling their genitals “wee-wee” or “private spot”. You do not have to go in-depth and tell them all the different parts, like the vagina versus the vulva, or the labia majora versus minoris. Once they are older, you can start helping them understand the different things.
For now, settle on a term like “vagina” or “vulva”. It’s a common misunderstanding amongst adults that “vagina” means everything down there, but do not worry about things like that. There is always time later on to get detailed.
Make sure you teach them that wiping front to back, or just not going too far back, is the right way. You do not want bacteria and germs to spread from their bums to their fronts, which is easy when they are still learning bathroom cleanliness- kids aren’t always the most competent wipers.
A Tutorial for Potty Training in Three Days
Although potty training is a process that differs from child to child, there are methods that can be attempted with any. One such method is the 3-Day Potty Training Method. Instead of spreading out the process over time and building up to bigger challenges, think of the 3-day method as “potty training bootcamp”.
This method requires three entire days to be spent between you and your toddler, and that includes nights as well. You will not be able to take time for yourself, cook, clean or do any other activities during these days, so it is important to plan ahead and make sure you have everything you need.
Shopping and having meals planned and prepared before you start will make the whole thing much easier. You should have fabric items like tee shirts to cover your child’s genitals, as they will not be wearing any underwear or diapers for this. Without having something to “catch” their waste, it will be easier for them to understand the need to find a potty.
Make sure you have healthy drinks around for your child- the more they drink, the more they will pee and have opportunities for learning. Gather up some prizes or rewards beforehand to help motivate your toddler as well. The most important thing to have on hand is a positive attitude and a sense of determination.
The 3-day method involves steps that need to be repeated. They are not complex, but they are necessary for success. The first step is to change your toddler after they wake up, and make sure they see their diaper being thrown away. Change them into the tee shirt and let them know that because there is nothing to catch their waste, they have to go on a potty.
During breakfast, make sure they have an increased fluid intake. Take them to the bathroom afterwards and encourage them to urinate. After this first time, just go about your usual day- but do not leave the house. Activities with your child like coloring or playing games are fine. Keep a cup of water near them and make sure they drink every fifteen minutes, for the entirety of the three days.
After dinner, there should be no more snacks or liquids. Give them one more chance to potty before bedtime, and then wake them up halfway through the night to go.
Following these steps for three days should help solidify the concept of using the potty, as well as the need to without a diaper. It may be hard at first, but you should ignore accidents. Clean them up and move on. If you linger on the “bad” thing your toddler did, they might not want to keep trying. Acknowledge it happened, but do not make it a big deal at all.
It is recommended to keep a bath mat or other waterproof material between your toddler and surfaces as well. This will make cleanup easier, and prevent damage to floors or furniture. The 3-day method may not work for every child, but it is worth the few days’ effort to try. This intensive potty training method works for a lot of toddlers, but parent involvement is the biggest deciding factor.
Potty Training Problems
Potty training involves a big shift in thinking and acting for your toddler, and there might be some hiccups along the way. It is extremely unlikely you will successfully potty train without any issues at all, but most have solutions that are simple. One problem is the refusal to use a toilet.
For a child, the toilet can be scary- it’s big, loud, and unfamiliar. Using a potty seat or separate potty chair can help overcome this. Make sure your toddler is comfortable with the toilet by letting them see and hear how it works. Another common issue is constipation. Your toddler may be afraid of having an accident, as they might think going on a potty will lead to the same result as an accident in their pants or going in their diaper.
Make sure to praise them after they go, as this will build a positive association. Keep a note of when they go and try to have a potty available around those times. If that does not seem to work, suggest they ask you for a diaper when they feel the need to have a bowel movement. This isn’t a permanent solution, but it can be used as a middle step.
Constipation is another issue. If it hurts to go, they will not want to. If they do not go, it will hurt more. This is why it is important to address this issue quickly. Make sure their diet includes fiber and lots of fluids, as well as making sure they get exercise. Constipation that does not respond to these attempts may be best addressed by laxatives or supplements, after consultation with a doctor.
A toddler may refuse to go in other places like daycare, too. Talk with whoever is there about the potty routine that is followed, and see if it can be modified for your child. Having a potty chair there can help if your child would be forced to use a large built-in toilet otherwise.
If there are issues that you solve, or if you have none at all, your toddler might start having accidents even after potty training. Changes in routine can trigger their desire for familiarity, and diapers might be part of that. do not punish your toddler and make sure to let them know that using the toilet is a big step that you think they are ready to take.
Use more incentives when they try to learn again, but do not deny them diapers if that’s what they need. Changing back to diapers for a few weeks can give everyone time to readjust and try again.
Potty Training Tips Summary
Potty training is an important milestone for both your parenting and your child. It shows development and maturation, as well as the ability for teamwork and adaptation. Potty training is necessary, but it does not have to happen at the same time as a different toddler.
Potty training can be done successfully at only a few months of age, or it could take until they are a few years old. As long as you and your child are comfortable, then there is nothing wrong with doing what needs to be done. Knowing the differences in how boys and girls think and use the bathroom can help to clear up confusion before it even happens.
Understanding how a child develops and how they learn will make the process easier to see from their point of view. If you feel it is appropriate for you and your toddler, then a quick way of potty training is the 3-Day Method, and it can have them using the potty successfully in only a few days.
Acknowledging that problems are likely to occur, but that there are solutions, will help keep a positive attitude in reach.
Keeping that positive attitude is the most important thing. If you are frustrated or upset, your child will be too. Remember they are children and that potty training is an entirely new thing for them, even if you are completely familiar with it.
You should be helping them along, not just telling them what to do. Your child is unique and will learn how to use the potty in a way that works for them, and you should always remember that you are partners in this journey together.
Whether it is your first child or not, potty training is a changing and dynamic step in your child’s life, as well as your parenting story. Let successes be the star, and do not linger on mistakes or accidents. One step at a time, changing the direction as needed, will help you find success and your child accomplishment.
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