This post will share some of our top tips for Potty Training, both boys and girls.
As your baby becomes a toddler, there are many developmental milestones and phases that your little one goes through.
Of all these milestones, Potty Training seems to fill parents with a sense of dread. Every parent has a horror story or two to share, which is not helpful when you are preparing for or are in the middle of potty training.
Add to that the fact that every child learns differently, and potty training a boy can be different to potty training a girl, and you may find yourself wishing it was all over already.
To make the process of potty training less daunting, use these expert tips.
What to Avoid When Potty Training Your Toddler
Just the words “potty training” can conjure up all kinds of emotions. As parents, we may feel stressed and anxious that potty training will not go well; however, it is essential to approach potty training without emotion (although this may be challenging at times).
Toddlers are the masters of doing precisely what we don’t want them to do. Power struggles at this age are common. Your little one is growing physically and mentally, and as this happens, they start to use these newly acquired skills to gain some power over themselves, including their bodies. At this age, toddlers quickly realise the one way they can gain control is to refuse to do something their parents want them to do.
Of course, parents want their children to be potty trained, and toddlers quickly pick up on this desire, especially when Mummy and Daddy are heaping on praise and doing a happy dance whenever they successfully use the potty.
So, although challenging, approach potty training with the mindset that this is merely another skill your child must learn, like walking or feeding themselves.
Do not force your toddler to use the potty because this will only intensify any potential power struggles. Another potential impact of these power struggles is physical problems like constipation. If you continue to force your little one to use the potty, it can lead to your toddler trying to regain control by holding onto their urine or bowel movements, resulting in constipation.
If you do see power struggles emerging – consider stopping potty training for a while until you see your little one show signs of readiness and interest again.
Potty Training Rewards or Not
The opinion is very divided on this.
One school of thought is that offering rewards like a sticker, sweet or small toy may create anxiety to perform for some children. And by providing rewards for potty training, you may unwittingly create an expectation that your toddler will get a reward for all the other things they have to learn, like using cutlery or brushing their teeth.
On the other side, many parents have used rewards to successfully potty train their children with no adverse impacts. I used rewards when potty training my little one. We gave him a sticker every time he successfully used the potty, and once he had ten stickers, he got a small toy. We had no issues with this and have not used rewards for many other things he has had to learn.
Ultimately every child is different. You know your child better than anyone, and if you think that a small reward will encourage your toddler, then there should be no issues at all.
Tips for Potty Training Success
Before you start potty training, ensure that your little one is ready for potty training by looking for potty training readiness signs.
When you are ready, here are some tips for potty training success.
Tip #1 – Let your child help to choose a potty.
Take your little one shopping with you to choose a potty or toilet seat. You could also let your toddler decorate their selected potty with stickers of things they love, like Thomas the Tank Engine or Princesses. This will get your toddler involved from the beginning and get them more excited about potty training.
Tip #2 – Put the potty in plain sight in the bathroom.
Put the potty out and start to talk about it. Start simply by getting them to sit on the potty and read a book or play with a toy. This will start getting your little one used to sitting on the potty. If you have a double-story with bathrooms on both floors, you may want to consider getting two potties, making it easier for your toddler to get to the potty on time.
Tip #3 – Dress your little one appropriately.
This is not the time for clothes with complicated buttons, zips etc. Choose clothes that are easy for your little one to pull up and down.
Tip #4 – Start with pull-ups.
Consider pull-ups when you first start potty training. These are great for the transition to training pants or big kid underwear. However, as they pull the moisture away like a diaper, it is best once your little one is mainly dry to switch training pants or big-kid underwear. Remember, there will still be accidents even once your little one is “potty-trained”, but using pull-ups to start can help when there are accidents when you are out and about.
Tip #5 – Let them spend time with a bare bum.
Some parents swear by this tactic. If your little one has not quite mastered pulling their pants up and down, letting them go around naked can be helpful. Then the basic idea of this tactic is that not having a diaper or pull-up may encourage your little one to use the potty or at the very least make them more aware of when they are going.
As I said, some parents swear by this tactic; however, on the flip side, some children do not respond well to this as the feeling of pee running down their leg can upset them quite a bit. So you can give this a try, but if you see it is upsetting your little one, put the pull-ups or training pants on.
Tip #6 – Watch for signs they need to use the potty.
During this time, you need to pay attention to when your little one needs to go. If you notice your toddler fidgeting, gently ask if they need to go. If they don't go and have an accident, after the accident, let them sit on the potty ‘just to check there is no more wee’. This will help to reinforce the potty/pee association.
Tip #7 – Set a potty schedule.
Set a simple potty-training schedule. The schedule may be sitting on the potty after or before naptime or before or after eating. This way, it becomes part of their routine. Alternatively, you could get your little one a Potty Training watch which have lights and music that play at set intervals to remind your little one to go.
Tip #8 – Consider rewards
As discussed, the topic of awards is divided. However, if you believe this will work well for your little one, then get a potty training reward chart where they can place a sticker whenever they tell you they need to go to the potty (even if they don't get there in time) or if they use the potty successfully. Remember to praise, but don’t go overboard.
Tip #9 – Don’t scold or force.
Accidents are part of potty training, and even when your little one is potty trained, there will still be accidents. Remember to stay calm when accidents happen and do not reprimand your little one. If your little one is also resisting potty training, do not force them, put potty training on hold and try again later.
Tip #10 – Teach boys to sit before standing.
Start by teaching boys to pee sitting down. Once they have mastered this, you can then start to teach them how to pee standing up. Show them how to lift the toilet seat, pee by aiming for the water and then how to put the seat back down again (his future partner will thank you). Please do not rush to teach your son to pee standing up; he will probably ask you to show him when he is ready.
Tip #11 – Use target practice to encourage your boy.
Once your son has mastered peeing, sitting down and is ready to learn to pee standing up, a great way to ensure you do not have pee all over your bathroom floor is to put some O-shaped cereal into the toilet for your toddler to aim at.
Tip #12 – Use Magic tricks.
If you have opted for a toilet seat, you can use a little bit of magic to encourage your little one to pee in the toilet bowl. Add some blue dye/food colourant to the toilet bowl, and then let your little one see how the colour changes from blue to green as they pee. You could also add a bit of dishwashing soap to the water; your toddler will have fun watching the bubbles form as they pee.
Tip #13 – Be prepared when leaving the house.
In the first few days, try to limit outings. Then after a few days, start with some short local trips. Make sure to pack wipes, spare clothes (including shoes) and underwear. If your little one makes it back home dry, give them praise or offer a reward. You could also consider purchasing a travel potty or potty seat. There are some great options available, some of which serve as a potty and a seat.
Tip #14 – Be patient.
Remember, it can take weeks or even months for children to be fully potty trained and even then, there will be accidents. Also, many children take longer to train for poop than pee, so be patient even if it feels as though you are going backwards or your child is regressing. You and your little one will get there in the end.
Tip #15 – Potty Training songs can work a treat.
If your little one is a bit nervous about using the potty, you could use a little song that the 2 of you sing together whenever you go to the potty. Music can help your toddler to feel relaxed. You can either make one up or go online to find a song for the 2 of you to sing together.
Tip #16 – Read a book together.
Reading a book together whilst your little one is on the potty can be a great way to pass the time as well as keep your toddler relaxed. You could read a book about potty training or one of their favourite books.
Tip #17 – Train by example.
Let your child see you using the toilet; children are excellent mimics, so seeing how easy it is for you to use the toilet will encourage them.
Tip #18 – Make pooping less frightening.
Some children do find pooping scary, and as a result, they may try to hold in their poop, resulting in constipation. Make sure to keep your little one hydrated, as passing hard stools can be painful. If your little one refuses to poop in the potty, then do not force the issue and just let them wear a diaper to poop until they are ready.
Tip #19 – Be mindful of flushing.
Whilst it is essential to teach your little one the importance of flushing, some children find the sound scary at first. If your little one is sensitive to the sound of the toilet flushing, then hold off on flushing immediately and gradually introduce flushing as your little one becomes more confident with their potty training.
Tip #20 – Don’t expect your little one to be trained in 3 days
I know there are a lot of books and courses out there saying that you can potty train your toddler in 3 days, but honestly, you can see considerable improvements in potty training in 3 days, but to expect your little one to be 100% potty trained in 3 days is unrealistic. There will still be accidents and regressions, which are all completely normal.
It is important to remember that even once your child is potty trained during the day, it can be months before they learn to control their bladder at night. You cannot potty train your child for nighttime as you do for daytime. Nighttime dryness will come on its own as your little one gains more control over their bladder.
We hope that these tips will help you and your child during potty training. Don’t lose hope if it isn’t happening as seamlessly as you’d like. Remember, your little one is mastering a significant skill, and even once they appear fully potty trained out of the blue, they can start to have accidents again. Do not be discouraged; regressions are normal and usually pass pretty quickly – stay calm and positive, and you and your little one will soon be back on track.