Toilet training can be frustrating, for both you and your child. However, there are steps you can take to make it easier on your whole family (and perhaps cut down on the number of accidents!):
- Be consistent in your approach. As with many kinds of learning, it’s easier for your child to learn what to expect and they are encouraged to do things the same way time after time.
- If you’re comfortable with the idea, show your child how to use a toilet yourself. Sit on the toilet and show how to use it correctly and demonstrate what toilet paper is used for. For boys, it’s best to teach them to sit while urinating at first. This makes it easier to learn to have bowel movements while seated and minimizes messes related to bad aim.
- Read books featuring positive toilet training experiences. Look for books that show children learning how to use the toilet to demystify the whole process.
- Be positive and use lots of praise! Toilet training is a skill that takes practice, but your toddler will probably be motivated. Most children want to be “big boys” and “big girls” and learn how to use a toilet like an adult. Children respond to praise and want to succeed. The whole experience will be more successful when you celebrate her achievements instead of shaming her for accidents. Using small rewards, such as a healthy treat or a sticker may be all the encouragement a child needs to return to the potty again and again.
- Teach cues. Your child might have bowel movements at the same time every day or after eating. Encourage your child to recognize the feeling of a full bladder or impending bowel movement, and then ask, “Is it potty time?” At first, even if your child says no, it helps to take them to the bathroom on a regular schedule and give them the opportunity.
- Avoid clothes that your child can’t get off without help. Complicated buttons and snaps make it harder for your child to make it to the potty on time.
- Nighttime dryness is often the last hurdle in successful potty training. It may be a good idea at first for your child to continue wearing a diaper or pull-up at night. You will know that your child is ready for underwear overnight when he or she is consistently dry in the morning.
- If your toddler starts to react against toilet training, step back and take a break. Often even a break of only a couple weeks may be all your child needs to get back on track.
- Make sure everyone is on the same page with how you are going to potty train your child—daycare providers, grandparents, and family friends.
- Look for cues your child might be getting ready to have a bowel movement and take them to the potty chair.
- Be patient! If your toddler has a difficult time at first, take a step back and try again in a little while.