Positive Potty Training Tips to Minimize Meltdowns

Deciding when and how to potty train your children can be difficult, because finding solid advice on parenting topics can be a process of wading through contradictory opinions. Most doctors and psychological professionals agree that there is a window during which potty training is most appropriate, but since every child develops a little differently, it can be hard to tell what the best timing will be for each of your kids.

girl sitting on a toilet and holding smartphone.

girl sitting on a toilet and holding smartphone.

When is the Right Time?

Most resources will tell you that children generally show an interest in potty training themselves, one way or another, and it often happens by age two. The Mayo Clinic resource points out that taking until a child is two and a half or even older is still perfectly normal, so the best thing to do is to raise the topic and gauge interest. It should be fairly easy to tell when the time has come if you have a child who shows interest openly, and if you don’t, you can always ask yourself a few easy questions to see if it is the right moment to start:

  • Has your child taken an interest in wearing underwear or moving away from diapers?
  • Has your child developed the verbal skills to listen and follow directions?
  • Does your child stay dry for two hours or longer at a stretch throughout the day?
  • Is your child big enough to sit down and rise from a potty chair?

If your child pulls her pants up and down or complains about the diaper, this is also a way of showing interest in potty training—remember, understanding kids’ needs often means decoding what they are saying to find out where their discomfort is actually coming from.

Starting the Process

When the time has come, your most important task is setting your child up for success. When you supply your kids with a positive attitude and gentle reinforcement, it can go a long way. When you add to that the right equipment and consistent reminders, it gets a lot easier for everyone, because the encouragement helps children hold on to the determination to succeed.

It starts with the potty chair. Put it into position, and then encourage your little one to sit on it, with or without a diaper. That will help to make it familiar and to teach the muscle process that goes into operating the potty chair. Remember to be patient, too—these building blocks lay the foundation for productive teaching and learning that can be ongoing and cover other important life lessons too.

Related: Top 10 Most Googled Parenting Questions

Maintaining Reminders

Consistency is the best way to help children, and that means helping them remember to use the bathroom on a regular basis until they develop stronger control over their muscles and a better ability to read their own body’s cues in advance. To do that, you need to be setting up a schedule and consistently reminding each child undergoing potty training when it is time to go.

On top of the regular reminders throughout the day, you will need to remind the child before car rides and other times when a bathroom might be inaccessible, and you will also want to be consistent in your efforts to get your family to a restroom quickly whenever it’s time to go. The faster your response, the more successful you will be.

Adding Incentives

Sometimes, children will not respond as quickly to potty training as you might desire. When that happens, you need to find new ways to motivate them until they understand the rewards that come with the new habit you are trying to build. This is likely to be just the first of many times that decisions about incentives come up, because clear and easy to understand incentives are the key to motivating anyone, young or old. When it comes to your toddler, you just need to make sure the incentives are easy to understand.

Verbal praise is the easiest and simplest incentive to apply, because it encourages the child and provides emotional support. Even if the trip is unsuccessful because you don’t make it in time or your child doesn’t have to go just yet, a little extra encouragement can help to ensure that you will be notified the next time the urge comes up, and then you will have more time to act.

Discussing the move to underwear and away from diapers can be its own incentive too, because many young children show an interest in leaving them behind as they get older. Setting firm expectations about when it will be time to move on from them can be a great way to help motivate kids who do show that interest.

Last but not least, making rewards for responsibilities being carried out can work for the right children, but it is usually a last-stage response because it can have unintended side-effects. Using food as an incentive can encourage unhealthy eating habits, for example. Using other rewards, though, like the gift of “big girl pants” or a new potty chair can provide rewards that also help to reinforce the task at hand.

Stay Calm and Be Patient

Whether it goes smoothly or not, it is important that you stay calm and positive. You need to be able to provide the emotional stability your child needs to keep trying if you expect eventual success. It’s also important to acknowledge that you might just need to wait. Sometimes it takes giving things a break for a month or two and starting again to let your toddler’s interest in the topic develop. Eventually, you will find that it is time, and rushing things will not make it happen any sooner.

More Parenting Advice From KAMO

Discovering how to help your kids through each new milestone as they grow from babies to big boys and girls and then to adults can be challenging. That’s why you need to have the right resources to make decisions about how to teach each new skill and when to time your lessons. For more advice, as well as information about sales and new products, follow us on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter so you won’t miss a post.

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