5 tips to make potty training a doddle

Be prepared

First things first, preparation is important; buy your potty training equipment months in advance, to help minimise any last-minute worries about potty training your child. Research suggests that on average children learn to use the potty between the ages of 18 months and two years. Therefore the earlier you introduce your child to the potty training equipment, the quicker they can adapt to the changes you will be making to their toilet habits. You can ease your child into using the bathroom facilities by washing their hands in the sink, going through the motions of going to the toilet and encouraging them to hand you the toilet roll or flushing the toilet for you. Try not to overwhelm them with new experiences; remember you want them to learn, but at their own pace, so take your time. As soon as your child shows signs that they are ready to use the potty you can start with the training immediately. The obvious tell-tale signs are; if their nappy stays dry for two hours or more, if they become interested in the bathroom or if they show discomfort in a wet nappy, or even attempt to remove it altogether.

There is a school of thought that believes that highly absorbent nappies may slow potty training down as they feel no discomfort at all so think about perhaps letting your child have an accident or two to get used to the feeling of needing the toilet and getting to the potty in time.

Praise your child

Children thrive on positive reinforcement. You encourage your child when they eat or through play time, so why should potty training be approached any differently? Try buying inexpensive gifts as a well done treat; you could also buy a selection of stickers so they can decorate their potty. This will help them understand that the potty is theirs and is only for them to use. When he/she first uses the potty try to make a big deal out of it; this is essential as this shows you are happy and really proud of them. You could also help encourage them further by making a badge that says ‘well done’ or ‘I’m proud of you’. This suggests they are grown up and clever for using the potty. Constantly encouraging your toddler is the best way to get them positively engaged in different and important activities.

Consistency

Your child will learn to use the potty quicker if you adopt a patient and consistent attitude toward the training. It takes time and effort to help children learn new things; whether it is a skill or a new routine. If a relative, nanny or a friend is babysitting your child, be sure to mention that you are potty training so they can reinforce the new toilet procedures. Although this may seem like a lot of hassle at the time, this is paramount to making sure your child understands clearly that he/she does not use a nappy anymore. When travelling or perhaps visiting relatives, pack the potty equipment with you; even though it may seem easier in the short term to put your child in nappies just for the day, you are only prolonging and also confusing your child’s potty routine. A good tip for the car though is to put a folded towel on the car seat they are in – it saves a lot of clearing up if there is a toilet accident.

Communication

Communication is always essential in any relationship and your relationship with your child should be no different. Repeating questions such as ‘do you need a wee?’ will help them relate certain words and phrases to the potty and to the bathroom in general. Keeping your child’s attention when potty training can sometimes become a struggle; why not read stories and sing songs with them? This way you are associating the toilet as a happy task and not as a chore. You can also keep their attention with a musical potty, using pull-up pants with a cartoon character on or creating a sticker chart so when it’s full they receive a treat. If your child is particularly shy and worried about using the potty, place it somewhere slightly hidden and don’t follow or stand over them. The more comfortable and relaxed your child is the more likely he/she will take to the potty training quicker and a lot easier. It might be nice to choose a favourite doll or toy and have them use the potty as well, making it a fun and 'shared' thing to do. You may even find they do this as a playtime activity quite naturally themselves.

Keep it simple

There are many steps you can take to ensure potty training is less complex. Start by making it easier for your child to actually use the potty; buying them trousers with an elasticated waistband will make going to the toilet twice as easy. Position the potty on a wipeable surface as this is a great idea for those first week spills; this can also help ease your worries about a stained carpet. You should try to keep your training simple by just focusing on the task in hand; if you make it more complex it could take your child longer to grasp the concept of using the potty. It is always a good idea to look ahead to the future – perhaps look into buying a potty that sits on top of the toilet. This would make it an easier transition for your child as they grow in confidence, until they are able to use the toilet without any help.

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