Children typically start potty training between the ages of 18 to 24 months and are more or less toilet trained by the age of 24-36 months, according to NationwideChildrens.org. Each child is unique, of course, and here are six tips and strategies to make your child’s experience (and your experience!) as smooth and stress-free as possible.
No. 1 Young Children Pick Up on Your Worry
So, if you are feeling pressured about successfully toilet training your toddler, this may actually make the process more challenging. Instead, shift your focus and point out the positives. Praise your child for each step that he or she has mastered, even if the entire process didn’t go as you’d hoped. Young children love parental attention and so can become more motivated with praise.
For some children, a high five is all the praise they need. Others may be more motivated by a sticker or an extra story before bedtime.
No. 2: Focus on the Process, Not the Ultimate Result
Once you start potty training with your child, put your efforts into your child sitting on the toilet, rather than on staying dry. Toilet time is an important first step, no matter the results; meanwhile, urging your child to stay clean and dry may lead to him or her into trying to hold onto stool and urine, rather than using the toilet, which defeats your ultimate goal. If your child fears punishment for having accidents, he or she will likely learn to hide the accidents, rather than moving forward with toilet training.
No. 3: Manage Your Own Expectations
In reality, children will start potty training when they’re ready, not when it’s convenient for their family. Parents.com quotes an expert from the American Academy of Pediatrics who cautions parents to let this process unfold naturally, rather than trying to force it to happen. Because, when you try to force a timeline, it often has the opposite effect, drawing out what might have been a fairly quick and easy process.
#4 Also Manage Your Reward Process
Although experts quoted in Parents.com and other sources we’re citing encourage positive reinforcement, rather than punishment, you also don’t want to go overboard with incentives. To quote from Parents.com, “Giving small incentives, such as a few stickers or an occasional lollipop, is fine, but giving prizes such as an expensive toy or a trip to Disney World is not.” Make the prize too big and a child who truly just isn’t ready will feel frustrated because he or she can’t achieve results in time to be given that big reward.
No. 5 Two Steps Forward and One Step Back
FatherlyLove.com points out the unwanted truth that potty regressions are in fact pretty normal. They could take place if a routine is changed, or if your child is distracted by some event or a change in diet. If this happens, remember tip one and stay calm. Otherwise, your child will pick up on your frustration and that won’t help. Stick with the plan and, if you truly think something more significant is going on, talk to your pediatrician.
No. 6 Self Wiping Can Be Hard
Finally, even a toilet trained child may not yet have the dexterity to properly wipe. This process isn’t intuitive and may need parental help, including a “safety wipe.” Plus, “expect see some dirty underwear until their kid gets used to the process of wiping. That’s just the way it goes.”
Step by step and day by day, you’ll get there! Before long, you’ll likely be sharing tips with the next parent who needs them.