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Potty Training Tips and Hints

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By: Suzy Martyn

This came just a bit late for me because Tank finally decided he wanted to use the potty and we haven’t had a single accident. 🙂 But, this is a wonderful article for my readers.  Hopefully you will learn something.   ~Kelli

Potty training. If you have a toddler, this is on your mind whether you want it to be or not. And, probably, you are stressed over it. You think about all the stories people have been telling you for years either about how their child was trained at three months or how it’s fine to have your 5 year old in diapers. Whatever the thoughts that run through your mind, in general, it’s overwhelming and so easy to feel confused and discouraged even before you even start the process.

Chances are if you feel all this pressure, confusion, and angst, then your child is probably picking up on all the vibes and generally not feeling that positive about the whole process either. Let’s take a step back and look objectively at the whole issue for a moment. Did you stress as much over your child learning to use a spoon? Did you lay awake at night and wonder if he would get it THAT day or worry what your friends would think if he still used his fingers at lunch? Probably not. You gave your child the time, practice, grace, and opportunity to learn at his own pace. You knew that he would eventually learn and you expected that it would happen soon enough. And, why did you do that? It’s because you knew that learning how to use a spoon is just a skill and with time and practice, he would get it when he was ready.

There’s no reason we can’t approach potty training with the same healthy attitude. Our kids deserve it. If we enter into the process matter-of-factly and patiently work with them to acquire this new skill, then everyone wins. There’s no need to compare with other children and their progress and definitely no reason to pressure your child to do anything before he is ready.

Here are some basic tips to help keep things in perspective. Remember, it’s just a developmental milestone, a skill that your child needs to learn. It is not a reflection of you in any way.

1. Spend time talking naturally about bathroom habits. Let them observe you and notice how normal and natural it is.

2. Avoid treats or prizes as much as possible. It’s the success that is the reward.

3. Avoid punishment or criticism.

4. Provide extra fiber and liquid to allow for ample practice.

5. Stay close to home for several days until you both feel comfortable.

6. Once you start, don’t go back to diapers. (naps and nights are okay for awhile longer after daytime dryness).

7. Look for readiness signs: can be dry for a couple hours at a time, notices dryness and wetness, has desire to be dry, can pull pants up and down.

8. When there are successes, encourage your child to own the success. You can and should be proud of his progress but try to keep the focus on his accomplishment, not yours.

9. In the same way, when there are failures (and there naturally will be), don’t be dramatic about it. Just clean up the mess together and try again. It’s just part of the process.

Suzy Martyn
Parenting Consultant and Speaker
Author of Enjoy the Ride: Tools, Tips, and Inspiration for the Most Common Parenting Challenges (a Mom’s Choice Awards Recipient) and Sleep Tight: Help Your Child Attain a Good Night’s Rest in Three Days

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The Allen Family

Tuesday 15th of September 2009

This is a great article. My 2 year old has been saying he wants to sit on the potty, just completely randomly and will go number 1 (says he has to go number 2 but won't actually). It was great to read this and remember to just stay calm and relaxed, I think I'll let him set the pace.