How to Potty Train Your Child

One of the greatest challenges as a parent just might be training your child to use the toilet. A close second to that is changing diapers. Many parents think it is time to begin “using the potty” when they have reached their limit of pee and poop-filled diapers. Those lethal bombs are not only costly (especially if you have more than one young child) but can also visit your home with a seemingly permanent odor. Unfortunately, the time to begin toilet training is not when “you” are ready but when your child’s body tells them that they are.

If you have older children, what did you dread or like the most about potty training? Most parents have more horror stories than fond memories but it doesn’t have to be that way. As a parent of a child who is still too young for anything but diapers, this article will help you avoid some of the issues that other parents may have informed you about. At the very least, preparation for the future task can provide a better outlook for you and a less traumatic experience for your child.

This article on potty training will be helpful in many ways to that end. Parent like yourself will learn how to tell when your child is ready for the process. Use the included checklist to ensure that the right time is at hand. Also, discover some differences between boys and girls and how the same tricks may not work for both. Speaking of tricks, suggested incentives for motivating your little one to become a “big kid” are also here for you.

Are you the parent of a child with special needs? Each step of their development may present different challenges for you. Learn how to ensure as much success as possible in the area of toilet training with the tips we will offer.

Setbacks are a part of life whether you are talking about your own or that of your child. Potty training is no different. Discover the common setbacks that a child might experience and how to handle them in the way that will produce positive results in the long run and peace of mind for you, the parent. We’ve got you covered from beginning to end. Keep reading learn everything you didn’t know about kids and toilet training.

Potty Training 101 – Let’s Get Ready

Parental Readiness

Now that your child is beginning to walk and talk, as a parent, you are looking towards the next step – toilet training. Eventually all children will need to learn how to use the bathroom just like an adult. They can’t stay in diapers forever, although some days when the schedule is hectic, you probably wish they could. Without being too gross, when kids learn to eat solid food in general and more of the foods that adults eat particularly, bowel movements are going to become more solid, larger and smellier. Even the parent who dreads potty training the most won’t want to deal with those types of soiled diapers every day.

The first person who needs to be ready for potty training is, well, your child. As far back as forever most of the choice was down to the parent. Your grandparents may have advised the same thing to your mother and father when it came to getting you out of diapers. The truth is, of any other reason, starting too soon may be the biggest one when it comes to disgruntled parents and lack of learning on the part of the child. A parent could be ready far in advance of their child and that spells doom if used as a toilet training timetable.

Patience is the order of the day when it comes to success in the area of potty training. We are not talking about a few minutes of patience but hours and days and weeks of it. A rule of thumb: Prepare your mind to deal with accidents, setbacks, resistance from your child and smiling and soothing words when you want to scream and cry. Just know that every parent goes through this no matter what they may publicly tell you.

Recognize your child for the individual that they are. This means that just because little Susie down the street is out of diapers and is barely two years old doesn’t mean that your little boy or girl will mimic her actions. It also doesn’t mean that something is wrong with your child. Some kids may be ready for this next step when they are about 18 months old. Most are ready much later, say between two and three or even four years of age.

There’s nothing to be alarmed about. Children mature at a different rate. If your child has “special needs” (we will discuss this later in the report), that readiness estimates can push out to age five or six. Younger siblings may learn faster because they have an older child to emulate. But, that is not always true and it doesn’t help you with the task for your first little one.

Be fair to yourself and your child – prepare for the toilet training event, but allow them to dictate the precise moment to begin. Preparation alone may be enough to calm your nerves and your fears. Here are a few things that a parent can do in advance.

Talk to your pediatrician – He or she will let you in on some of the signs that your child is ready for the process as well as answering any questions you might have about their development. Just hearing from a reputable source that everything is all right with your child can prevent you from pushing them too soon into potty training.

Get the facts – Reading reports such as this provides not only tips and tricks but also information about how to know when your child is ready, dealing with problems and where to look for further assistance. Knowledge is the key to successful potty training more than anything else.

Get the goods – We are talking about choosing the right equipment. Later on, we will elaborate on what features to look for in a potty chair or seat cover as well as using them effectively. Potty training doesn’t spell the end of diapers until the process is complete. Diapers (cloth or disposable) may be traded in for training pants and/or underwear, but it’s always a good idea to keep a few on hand in case you need them.

Bite the bullet – Some children learn in a few days and some take a few months to even longer. Prepare mentally and physically for this eventuality. To that end, know that there will be messes to clean up in the process. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs as they say. It might require investing in some plastic sheeting or a drop cloth or two and definitely a mattress pad until night training is complete. Just so you know night training takes longer than day training in most instances.

Child Readiness

Now that we’ve taken care of getting you ready for your child to toilet train, it is time to discuss your child. It can’t be stressed enough that the driving force behind when to begin this process is your child and their readiness. Two children in the same household are not alike when it comes to their maturity level and physical readiness for potty training. Pushing a child before they can handle it will only result in greater fears for them and more aggravation for you.

Consider things from your child’s point of view. Using a diaper is all they have known since they were born. At that time and many months hence, the “elimination” process is automatic. When they have to pee or poop, they do so. The sensation of “needing to go” and the muscle control to prevent it from happening, have not matured. They are not even aware that there is such a thing.

Taking off that diaper and releasing their “packages” into a toilet or a potty chair can be frightening to them, especially if they are not familiar with either. At the same time that you are contemplating toilet training, your child is going through developmental stages such as learning to share, discovering themselves, grasping the nuances of language, going to preschool or daycare and learning new skills. They are on sensory overload already.

As a part of a “readiness checklist” here are a few questions to ask yourself before ticking off other boxes on the list:

Does your child show interest in the toilet or wanting to use the bathroom like mommy and daddy?

Does your child understand simple directions and comply accordingly?

Can your child dress and undress themselves alone or with minimal assistance?

Can your child sit and get up from a chair unassisted?

Does your child pull at their diaper and let your know when they have soiled themselves?

Do they demand that a soiled diaper be removed right away?

Are there physical signs that tell you that your child is using the bathroom in their diaper?

Does your child stay dry for extended periods of time during the day or night?

An answer of no to most of these questions means that more time is needed. Yes answers to most of these questions could signal that your child is ready for potty training. While that is cause for celebration, this is only the beginning. Further investigation is needed. It’s time to continue along your checklist.

Potty Training Checklist – Physical readiness

A child that can walk without assistance is better able to get to and from the bathroom alone when needed.

Your child has regular bowel movements at predicable times such as first thing in the morning, after each meal and before bed.

When your child urinates it is generally a lot each time.

Your child stays dry for several hours (at least two) during the day and is dry during nap time. (This suggests greater muscle control of the bladder and the anus to hold back urine and feces.)

Behavioral readiness

Your child can pay attention to a task and sit still for several minutes.

Your child is disgusted when they use the bathroom on themselves and pulls at the diaper to be changed. It is beginning to feel uncomfortable to them.

They follow you into the bathroom and are curious about what you do there.

Your child can tell you when they are going to the bathroom beyond the physical signs that he or she is in the process.

Your child is basically cooperative when asked to do something.

They are showing more signs of being independent.

Your child is able to pull up a dress or pull down their pants on their own.

Cognitive readiness

Your child can speak and knows the words for pee and poop (it might be those exact words).

Your child can follow simple instructions.

They understand how and why to put things away like their toys or their clothing.

Your child is aware of the sensations within their body that signal it is time to use the bathroom and can demonstrate muscle control.

Be truthful with yourself as to your assessment of your child. No one wants to have a child still in diapers when their neighbor’s kids are using the bathroom, but that just might be what happens if your child is not ready. Forcing them to get ready ahead of their bodily or mental schedule can instill more fears of the toilet, feelings of anxiety and shame, and a tighter cling to diapers than before. There is merit in waiting. The process may take a much shorter time than you anticipate when a child is physically, emotionally and mentally ready for it.

Potty Training Tips – General

It’s always helpful to know a few tips and tricks before you get into the thick of the potty training process. Learning to recognize certain signs in your child may let you know when you are headed for a setback. Now, you can be proactive and try to avoid certain pitfalls. On the other hand, sometimes, no matter what you do, your child will take a step backwards. This is okay. They will reach the finish line eventually if you are patient with them.

Arm yourself with the knowledge that these tips can provide for getting started with training.

Have the right equipment on hand – This includes a potty chair. Some children are more interested in the grownup toilet so make sure the chair comes with a removable adapter for the toilet opening. It might be wise to invest in a second chair to keep in the car for trips.

We mentioned plastic sheeting before. Accidents will happen and plastic can save your carpet. A mattress cover for their bed can save your mattress from the odor and possible mildew of frequent bedwetting incidents.

Test drive the potty chair – When your child expresses an interest in the toilet, allow them to try it out “risk free” as the new car ads say. Sit them on the new potty chair or grownup toilet with their clothing on to get the feel of it. Try to do it around the times that they would normally use the bathroom.

Keep it accessible – If they spend most of their day in the playroom or living room, keep the potty chair close by for easy access and within their line of sight so they get comfortable having it around. For the regular bathroom, leave the door open and the light on so it is inviting to them.

Demonstrate how it’s done – When a child is curious about what goes on in the bathroom, let them watch you. as you mimic some of the same facial expressions that they have when they are using the bathroom (it can be embarrassing with number 2, but bear with it for your child’s sake), explain to them what is going on in the toilet. Don’t forget to let them see your “little packages” as well as how to wipe themselves, flush the toilet and wash their hands afterwards.

Along the same lines, when your child uses the bathroom in their diaper, particularly number 2, show them what they have done. It is helpful to let them sit on the potty chair or the big toilet (with an adapter seat cover) and empty the content of their diaper beneath them. When they stand up, they can see where the poop is supposed to go. Empty it into the toilet (if using a potty chair), let them flush it down and then wash their hands.

Use proper language – Avoid using baby words to refer to your child’s anatomy or the process of urination and defecation. Use terms that they can understand but are also correct. Baby words may embarrass them or make them ashamed in front of their friends who are using proper identifications.

Set a schedule – As best you can, at first, sit your child on the potty around the times that they have been producing soiled diapers. When they are comfortable with the potty seat or toilet, have them sit there with their diaper off. Sometimes they may hit and sometimes it will be a miss. If it is a miss, take them back to the potty and show where the urine or stool should go.

Keep sitting time to a minimum – Because kids have such short attention spans, potty training can be difficult until they are mature enough to sit still for a while. Start with 10 minutes and increase it to about 20 minutes as they can sit longer without getting distracted. If you only manage 5 minutes, don’t be discouraged. Put his diaper back on and try again later on.

Let them run in the buff – Clothing can obscure a child from the sensation that they have to use the bathroom. Also, using a diaper may give them comfort to use the bathroom on themselves if they are engrossed in an activity. By letting them run around naked while playing, they don’t have the safety net of the diaper. Yes, they will urinate on the floor at times, but they will also be more likely to look to the potty or toilet when they feel the urge to go. Here is where the plastic sheeting will become your best friend.

Avoid scolding your child – Remember; children see things from a different perspective. That diaper is a safety blanket to them, they may use the potty today but have trouble when you are out and about or when they are engrossed in an activity. Scolding your child makes them feel like they did something wrong. It can produce anxiety over the entire process and stop them from wanting to use the potty. They may associate bathroom time with that anxiety and avoid it.

Praise your child when they do make it to the potty. Encourage them when you show them that their diaper is soiled. Tell them that they will make it to the bathroom next time.

Keep a potty on hand – Potty training doesn’t mean you are a prisoner in your own home. Having a potty in the car or at least an adapter seat, allows you to move around freely but keep your schedule for bathroom times with your child.

Dress for success – Loose-fitting clothing allows your child to pull them down easily when they have to go. This could spell the difference between success and accidents at places other than the home like daycare, school or grandma’s house.

Coordinate your efforts – Inform your daycare or preschool that you have begun potty training. Coordinate the work you are doing at home with efforts made by these providers. A child who keeps a schedule across the board will be more likely to find success. It may require you to take a few moments to introduce your child to the bathroom facility at school so they are familiar with how to use it.

Keep your child on task – Some parents might sit their child in front of television during potty times. This can be a distraction that backfires. Instead, make potty time about the potty. Choose a book for them to look at and read that pertains to using the bathroom like a big kid. Show them videos on a tablet about potty training while they are sitting on the toilet. These fun but relevant activities can relax your child and make potty time more welcome to them.

There is a lot of useful information here to help you and your little one to get started on a successful potty training journey.

Potty Training for Boys

It has been said that potty training boys takes longer. That’s due in part to the fact that mothers are the teachers. As a mom, you believe that kids are kids. When it comes to potty training, the differences in “personal plumbing” are a factor. Boys can stand or sit when urinating. Moms are hard-pressed to demonstrate the standing part as we are not physically designed to do this with any success.

Demonstrating urination is best left to the male of the species. Ask your spouse, brother, father, grandfather or other significant male role model in your family to take the lead on this one. It can make the difference in the interest level of your child and how fast they grasp the concept.

If your son starts out sitting on the toilet, that’s fine. It is actually good because number 2 often follows urination and he doesn’t have to remember to change positions as he learns about potty training. If he prefers to stand up, remind him to sit down after urination to see if he has to complete another part of the bathroom process.

It’s hard for little boys to aim properly when urinating. If they are sitting, show them how to hold it down when the urine starts to flow. Many parents have used splash guards on potty chairs and adapter seats for years. Experts are advising against those nowadays because they can be positioned too close to the child and actually scrape the penis causing pain and discomfort. Lack of a splash guard could mean wiping down a few walls until they get the hang of aiming, but at least your child won’t be uncomfortable.

For children who prefer to stand, placing cereal rings in the toilet or food coloring can give them incentive to perfect their aim. A urine stream will change the color of the dyed water and the cereal rings will jump around as your son aims and hits them with the urine stream. Who said potty training couldn’t be fun?

Another way to influence your son to use the potty more often is to buy him underwear. Take him to the store and allow him to choose a big boy pair of undies with his favorite character on the front. Inform him that he is old enough to use the bathroom like big kids so he can wear underwear. Also, if he goes to the bathroom in his new underwear, he will get his favorite hero wet and dirty. Concentrating on keeping Thomas the Tank Engine or Lightning McQueen dry is a powerful incentive to use the potty with some boys.

When it comes to night training, this can take a bit longer. It all depends on your son’s ability to control his muscles and hold urine or bowel movements in as he sleeps. When he feels the sensation to urinate, it should wake him up. A few ways to help eliminate nighttime accidents: limit liquids several hours before bedtime, take your son to the bathroom right before bed and place their potty chair next to the bed (near a night light if possible) for easy access if they have to get up at night to use the bathroom.

Make sure they can get out of bed easily and without fear to use the bathroom. Some beds are too high for kids to slide over the edge. Some fear they will fall and don’t attempt it. A stool can assist them or, better yet, a frame that is low to the ground.

Potty Training for Girls

When it comes to the female of the species, girls usually learn quicker than boys. Everything she does in the toilet can be done sitting down and mom can demonstrate that. Whether sitting on the potty chair or on the toilet with an adapter, make sure that a stool is there to rest her feet. A stool gives her someplace to rest her feet in a stable manner for pushing during a bowel movement. The same goes for boys.

Because the opening to the bladder and the bowel are close together in the female anatomy, teach her to wipe herself from front to back. This avoids dragging any fecal matter towards the bladder. That could result in a possible bladder infection.

Just like with boys, toilet training does have its fun moments. Use food coloring in the water to demonstrate what happens when she urinates. The change in water color from blue to green lets her know that she in fact did do something during her potty time.

Potty Training for Special Needs Children

Parents with special needs children face unique challenges on a daily basis whether physical, mental or behavioral. Potty training success can boost a child’s self-esteem even more when they are facing other potential setbacks in their lives. Depending on the specific need, each child is again, different and may require certain aids to complete their training.

Discuss the process with your pediatrician. They can provide answers and resources for your questions about your child’s specific condition. As far as readiness goes, you may ask yourself the same questions listed earlier, as to whether or not your child is reaching the age when potty training can commence. Don’t be deterred if your child needs help undressing to use the toilet or physical assistance. They may always need that. What they will learn however, is when to know that they have to go and how to communicate that to you so that you can help them make it to the potty or toilet in time.

The process may take more time, but that is to be expected. The age for potty training may be raised by several years for children with certain physical or mental delays. Become familiar with your child’s condition and what is required of you to make toilet training rewarding and possible in the first place. Again, avoid scolding your child for setbacks and accidents. This only heightens their fear and further delays learning.

Potty Training Setbacks – What are they?

There are going to be challenges when it comes to potty training your child. Today may run smooth, but tomorrow might become a nightmare. Here are some common potty training setbacks and how to counter them.

Your child doesn’t like the potty chair – Today they sit on it but tomorrow they don’t want to. They may have lost interest or just showing a bit of resistance. Show them how to make that potty chair theirs. Add their name to it; place favorite stickers on it; place their potty training book right beside it so it is there for them to read. Have them sit on it again fully clothed to get the feel for it so they are comfortable.

Your child is still pooping in their diaper or training pants – Number 2 is a bit harder for kids to let go of sometimes, literally. They feel safer doing it in their diaper. The next time this happens, take off the diaper and show them the contents. Let them see and smell it. Inform them that it is too much and too stinky for their diaper and needs to be done in the potty or toilet. Take the contents of the diaper to the toilet; let them see it there and then flush it away.

Your child is resistant to potty training – Even though they are ready according to the checklist, they may still show reluctance to learn. Sometimes, big life changes can overwhelm a child. If your child is expecting another sibling, starting a new school, dealing with a health issue or other potentially traumatic event, it might be best to put off toilet training until they adjust and things calm down.

Your child is wetting their pants at school – That could result from inconsistency in training. Brainstorm ways to continue what they have learned at home in their school or daycare environment. A teacher may not have time to cater to every child. To that end, send their potty training book to school with them or a favorite toy to help them feel more comfortable using the toilet when they have to go.

Your child is inconsistent with potty training – It may be time for incentives. Motivate them to use the potty each time they have to go. Create a chart and give them a sticker for each day that they stay dry. When they complete a certain number of days they can get a new toy or have extra story time at bedtime.

Incentives can run the gamut: big kid underwear, food dye in the toilet or cereal rings (mentioned earlier), candy treats (limit these because of tooth and weight issues that could develop) and extra playtime. It all depends on what your child likes most and will train to get.

How to Choose the Best Potty Chair

What do you look for in a potty chair? We concentrate on the physical characteristics of the chair more than price. If the chair has what your child needs for success that outweighs price in most cases. This includes durability, comfort ability and features.

Here are some aspects that a complete potty chair might have to meet your needs. A secondary chair that you keep in the car can be simpler in design since it won’t be used as the main one.

Durable construction –Each piece is easy to clean, separate and put back together several times without breaking. Potty seats will be made of durable material that resists cracking and a rubber underside that prevents slippage as your child moves about on the big toilet.

All-in-one – This is a potty that can be used as a chair, with removable top to fit on a regular toilet and can fold into a stool as well for toilet sitting.

Compartments – Many new potty chairs feature holders for books, toilet paper holders and even a pull out compartment to dump the potty contents into the regular toilet.

Support – Look for a potty chair that has a high back to support your child’s back while they sit and wait for the pee and poop to come. Handles are also preferable for help with sitting and rising. This goes for potty chairs and potty toilet seats as well.

Amenities – These are added features that provide fun and incentive for your child. They include a flush handle that makes real flushing noises and toilets that sing or talk to your child when they urinate or poop in them.

Using a potty chair does require a certain amount of cleaning. That is to be expected. This will change somewhat once your child begins to use the regular toilet.

There is no reason to cringe in fear when toilet training is mentioned. The key is for you and your child to begin with a relaxed and non-threatening mindset. Patience will be required of you in its fullest measure, but the rewards of success seem to be well worth it. Save yourself a lot of heartache and trouble by remembering that it is your child, not you, the parent, who determines when potty training will begin. Here’s to your child’s success.