Watching my two-year old dance through the house, I can’t help but feel proud – and relieved – at how painless potty training was with her. The youngest of five children, each of them brought new challenges as they exerted their own personalities and preferences when it came time to being a “big boy” or “big girl” but along the way they each taught me some simple techniques that made potty training the youngest two embarrassingly easy. In the spirit of parent comradery, and because potty training that is less stressful for you is guaranteed to be more effective and inspire greater confidence in your child, here are my top tips for stress-free potty training.
Set a good example.
This first tip may seem odd but this is how I managed to get most of my kids wearing diapers only at night and when going places at 18 months old. Let your toddler accompany you into the bathroom. Let them see how mommy and daddy use the toilet, too, how it’s no big deal and all the big people use the toilet. If you have children a little older than your toddler, let your toddler see how their big brother or sister uses the toilet, too. This makes potty training not something scary but a sign of being a big kid -which means your toddler will be more willing to try.
By making toilet usage seem normal and having your child at least sit and try, you reinforce what is expected of them.
Make it fun and empowering.
That means focusing on every potty training success, being sure to praise your child and be super excited for them when they first begin using the toilet. Continue that praise even after they stop having accidents and wake up dry every morning to remind them of how awesome they are doing and how proud of them you are. The flip side of this, of course, is that you NEVER shame your child or yell at them for an accident. This makes potty training humiliating and can cause your child to not want to try anymore. Accidents will happen, that’s a normal part of potty training. Address the accident, reminding your child of what they should have done, but don’t punish or shame them. Ever.
Don’t force it.
Turning potty training into a battle will only make your child stubborn and disinterested. The goal, after all, is to have your toddler willing use the toilet independently. So, don’t make a big deal out of it, but do reinforce that using the toilet is what is expected of them. For example, if you’re about to leave the house, make a point of telling your child how you’re going to use the potty quick because you really have to go, and ask if they need to use the potty, too.
Make it a habit.
That means that before naps, you have your child use the potty. Before bedtime, you have your child use the potty. Before leaving the house, have your child use the potty. With one child, I actually set a timer to remind me to ask my son if he needed to use the potty once every hour. He didn’t always have to, but it reinforced in his mind that he was supposed to use the toilet and not his diaper -making for fewer accidents.