Your toddler just came running into the kitchen hollering something only he understands with a look of joy on his face, not to mention his brown war-makeup he has smeared on his forehead and cheeks. You smile and reminisce the days when you were a child, reveling in the joy of watching your children grow and experience life. Then you suddenly realize where did he get that brown stuff from? OH NO! He is playing with his poopy diaper again. Further investigation leads you to all the other wonderful activities he has been participating in while using his poop. It might as well be in your new furniture or rubbed into your shag carpet. Maybe he hid it in your pillow! Toddlers have great imaginations and little to no discretion. If you have reached this point, then itís definitely time to potty train.
Everyone has an opinion on this topic and anyone who has gone through it will be more than willing to share their experience with you; maybe even try to convince you that their way is the best way to teach potty training. There is no perfect way of teaching potty training. Kids are very flexible and will respond to multiple different methods, you just need to find one that works for you and your child.
When do you start teaching them? You can start anytime you like. The real question is "When do you finish?" The answer is: when they have it down pat. Remember, the earlier you start the more likely it will take a longer time. Kids grow and develop at different rates, so you can have greatly different results from child to child. Some mothers choose to use the no-diaper-method. The theory is never put them in a diaper and they will never want to sit in their own poop. Yes this has been proven to be effective, but this method may not suit your family or your willingness to scrub and disinfect.
I like to wait until they are around the age of 2. Itís important that they can tell you when they need to use the bathroom by saying words like pooh-pooh, pee-pee, or toilet. Do they look at going potty on the toilet as a big kid thing that they want to do too? Being able to pull up their underwear and put their pants or shorts back on helps too, but this is not absolutely necessary. Also very important, can they recognize when they need to use the potty chair? I loved reading to my children from birth, if you do this, buy a children's book about being a big kid and learning to potty train. They even have books that make flushing noises.
So you are ready to start! Now start browsing online for a potty chair for your child, and a toilet adapter for the big kid toilet. Make sure your child feels welcome at either chair. Itís important to give them the freedom to choose, it helps them grow-up to be self-reliant and confident adults. You can also buy a stool to help them get up to the toilet and have something to balance their feet on while they push, it makes pooping a lot easier not having your feet dangle. While you are shopping online, invite your child to look at the different options, maybe they will find a toilet that they like and will be more excited about starting potty training.
Your child should be familiar with seeing you use the toilet so it is not a foreign concept to them. The boys need to see how daddy does it and the girls need to see how mommy does it. Kids will mimic their parents and siblings for better or worse. This can be a great tool for you in most things in life if you are setting a good example.
For the first 3-5 days clear your schedule and be in the same area that your children are in so you can help them at a momentís notice in case of any near misses. The first day is the most important; you need to stop using diaper/pull-ups altogether. If you are going to cut off a dogís tail, it hurts a lot less if you do it in one big cut rather than piece by piece. Let your child use a diaper when they sleep and then bring them to the bathroom as soon as they get up in the morning. You will learn their habits and if you should give them 5 or 10 minutes when waking up before bringing them to the bathroom. At first I recommend just letting them run around the house without anything on in the downstairs region. Some kids love this. Keep the potty chair in whatever room they spend most of their time. Make sure you are in that room too. Remember, you can't teach if you aren't present.
You are probably like me and have places to go and errands to run. You can't always be at home waiting for your child to go pee. So put that potty chair in the car and use it when you arrive and leave places. This will help reduce any anxiety from your child, and leaving the house won't be such a gamble.
Practice sitting on the potty chair. Let them get comfortable sitting in that position. Boys need to learn sitting before they practice standing; the same way you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk. This helps avoid the fire hose effect all over the floor and walls. Even if they don't go, don't make them feel pressure. At first, every 30 minutes let them sit for a minute or two so they can try and pee or pooh. This will assimilate them to the chair and it won't seem like a stressful new concept. Never show them disappointment because they didn't go, tell them itís ok and they can try later.
Praise! Praise! Praise! Jump for joy when they go in the potty chair. They need to see how pleased you are. Even act a little over-the-top excited. You may feel stupid but they won't think so. They will only think how happy it makes them to know that mommy and daddy are proud of them. This positive response will encourage them to go potty in the chair again and again.
Every time they go pee or pooh, give them a reward. I gave my toddlers a gummy bear. If you are the type to not let them have sugar then use a cracker or something that they consider a treat. But if I may, a little candy goes a long way and it won't hurt them...it just motivates them and you will be happier because of it. There are all sorts of reward systems that you can use, so choose whatever works for you.
If for some reason you try and find potty training to be too stressful on your child then stop and try again in a few weeks, maybe they will be ready then. It should be a fun experience that the child considers a game to get the reward.