Here I am, starting all over after having an only child for almost 7 years, and I am totally clueless on how to begin the process of potty training my almost 2 year old. My older daughter was a piece of cake, this little one, not so much. Karter is one of the smartest toddlers I know, with no bias, lol. Did I mention that she will come up to her father and I after soiling her diaper to ask to be changed. As an early childhood professional, I am a true believer of letting your child show you they are eager to conquer a new task naturally. But Karter, has mommy going crazy, as she is showing tons of signs of being ready. I posed a question to my social media mommies asking for some of the best strategies and/or tips on the secrets to potty training, so of course I had to share!
Signs of Readiness
It is important to note that as parents we naturally feel the need to compare children. If it's comparing them to kids at the park, or siblings, it's hard to not want your child to be the best at whatever they do. Children are truly one of a kind. Potty training before 2, or after entering preschool is not more genius than the other. In the same breathe if your'e truly concerned that your child is not interested I would take them to a primary health physician to get more feedback. Also notice changes in environment, and survey all aspects of your child's life that could be impacting their ability to toilet train. Some concerns may be validated by an alternative source, so be aware of your child's capabilities and move forward with that in mind. There are some truth-telling signs that your child is eager to move forward and is possibly ready to begin potty training.
- A decrease in wet diapers- if they are capable of waiting hours in between wet diapers, they are more prepared to be toilet trained. This tells you they have the ability to hold it until they can release.
- They can announce it- in my case Karter will directly tell me "Mommy I poop", or will ask to be changed because it feels uncomfortable. She now understands her bodily functions, and the need to be clean.
- They have the ability to undress- fine and gross motor skills are necessary. If your child seems ready but cant pull his pants down, there's a problem. Begin to teach the process of pulling there pants up and down. Need more practice in those areas google fine/gross motor activities to help.
- They are curious- Nothing is more curious than your child following you to see how it's done. This means they want to know how they could possibly master it themselves. Act on your child's curiosity.
- Predictability- If your child is going routinely after eating and drinking, this can make toilet training easy. As parents you know when your child needs to go and so do they!
- And most importantly- they demonstrate wanting to be independent, and take pride in their accomplishments- this is displayed by them having the motivation to want to be toilet trained and feeling the reward of doing so.
Okay are they ready?! Here we go....
Top 10 Potty Training Tips!
1. No Pull Ups- My mommy friends tell me this is a big no no! It feels too much like a diaper. The feel of a diaper allows your child to believe they can still soil themselves and/or are confused on if it is indeed a diaper. Allow them to feel uncomfortable, to encourage them to not want to feel that way again. I received a great tip of something called plastic undies. The idea is that they don't get the clothes wet, but the child can still feel the sense of wetness. Genius!
2. Freedom Reigns- I've heard through the grapevine that 3 complete days of nakedness does the trick. This means delegating time to just allow them to be free to hurry and get to the potty. Allow for tons of accidents. After they have mastered going to the potty naked, begin trying to implement having on clothes.
3. Favorite Undies- If your child is anything like every other kid in this world...they have a favorite character/object of some sort. I am hoping it is a character that can be brought as underwear. Encourage them to not get Dora, Trucks, Elmo wet. My daughter is obsessed with frozen. I'll make a big deal of it by saying "Don't get Anna wet, that makes her sad". Practicing feelings and potty training. Win win.
4. Bribes- Sticker charts, treats, candy...whatever will kick in the enthusiasm. Nothing like getting an instant reward for pleasing the parentals. Make sure they are motivated by the reward, by it being something they don't get often. Don't feel comfortable giving candy, don't do it. Do what works for you and your child.
5. Special Toys- A mother shared with me, that she purchased a toy that their child only played with during potty time. I thought, GENIUS! What a way to get your child to sit still. I then thought of the massive meltdown once it's over. But hey beggars can't be choosers, pick your battles wisely.
6. Books and Music- Prep is everything. The more you expose your child to the concept of being toilet trained, the more prepared they are to complete the task. Visit your local library, and youtube for songs and books specific about going to the potty!
7. Target Practice- Make a game of it. One game a friend of mine suggested is putting a cheerio in the potty and letting their son have target practice. Sounds safe to me!
8. Big or Little Pot- Some kids prefer going to the adult size toilet, for others this can be intimidating. Find what it is your child fears so they are not super anxious or reserved about going.
9. Praise/Model- Nothing is better than positive reinforcement. You can never give your child enough verbal praise. Kids enjoy pleasing parents, and crave positive attention. The more you bring attention to it, the more likely they will do it. Praise yourself and make a big deal out of it. You go use the restroom, bring them, and tell yourself out-loud "I did it"!
8. Clock Work- Time is everything. Be routine and structured about it. Observe how long it takes your child to digest food, or hold water. Take note of your child's body and use it towards your advantage.
10. Patience is a Virtue- Allow your child to show you the signs that I covered earlier. The thought of not buying diapers is awesome, but you don't want to make for a traumatizing experience. Kids who are often rushed, regress back, or have an increase of accidents.
With all this being said. Karter is just not ready, or at least I didn't conquer it this week. She won and I'm totally okay with that. She is excelling in areas, and reserved in others. I don't blame her for wanting to be my baby for a little longer. I will continue to encourage her without being forceful. I want her to feel proud when she is ready to succeed at going. Often times we as parents rush are children to grow up, and then when they are older we wish they had stayed young. Enjoy your children just where they are. Nothing more precious than time...