(the basket was our stool stand in until our step stool arrived)
I am recording these little pointers in hopes that maybe they will help things to go more smoothly when our second kiddo rolls around and approaches the potty training phase. I've concluded that potty training can be summed up quite simply in one word: patience.
Every child is so different. Some take right to potty training and for others it takes what seems like ages. Some need candy bribes and some need reward charts. Some don't mind a mess in their pants and others are uncomfortable with it. No matter what the child is like or what the scenario, patience is essential. Prepare for lots of accidents. Prepare for it to be exhausting. Prepare for it to take a good amount of time...my little girl's training has taken a couple of months and is still a work in progress. Prepare for potty training to cramp your style. It's a bit annoying to have a cart full of groceries while standing at the checkout and then to hear your little one exclaim loudly with wide eyes, "mommyyyy, I hafta go potteeeee!!" Ah yes, good times.
So, without further ado here are a few simple lessons I've learned thus far:
*Wait until your child is ready. Don't worry about what other people are doing or what the "right" age is that you should be starting. I've learned that there is such a thing as adult peer pressure but, I've also learned it feels great to ignore it! Just pay attention to the cues. If your child appears interested, then give potty training a go and if they reject it entirely, give it a break and try again in a few weeks (or months). Don't force. Don't push. Patience. It'll happen when it happens.
*Bring out your best inner cheerleader! Prepare to praise your child up and down, left and right for every tiny little success. Maybe you know a great potty song or a fun dance. I couldn't think of anything clever so I just said, "YEAH, I am so proud of you," in a super obnoxious squeaky voice. High fives are great and candy rewards are even better. I rewarded my little one with two peanut m&m's each time she went potty and often gave her one just for sitting on the potty.
*Make the potty a place that is worth going to. I set up a toddler potty in front of our TV so that my little one could sit on it while watching a cartoon. In the beginning it took her a long time to get her number twos out so it was great to have a distraction to keep her there. In the regular bathroom I would bring books, toys and my iPhone so that she could watch YouTube videos on it. Reward as often as possible and learn what best motivates your child. Some kids are happy as a clam with a sticker but, that wouldn't remotely interest my daughter. Candy is an essential in our training!!Keeping the potty training experience pleasant for toddler and mommy is ideal in my book!
*Don't rush into real underwear unless you are okay with extra messes to clean up. Some kids take to potty training in a day or two and in that case underwear is great. Nearly 2 months into potty training my little one still has accidents on occasion. I always put my gal in pull ups at nap time, bedtime, when we go to friend's houses and in the car seat. When she wears a pull up it minimizes clean up drama and stress. It's a win win. She has learned to go potty wearing pull ups as well as she could have learned in underwear. I made sure to treat the pull ups like underwear. We call them big girl panties and as a result she does not associate them with diapers. Again, each kid is different. I am reporting simply based on what worked for us.
*Do what you need to do to make the potty training experience easier for yourself....not harder!! I kept a toddler potty in the back of my SUV for the first 2 months and I kept a toddler potty in my living room on a towel. Classy, no but, beneficial, YES! I stuck my kiddo on the potty every time we pulled up to a store and every time we left. It slowed down our outings but, it helped cut down on a mad race to a hidden bathroom in a store. The potty in the living room is tacky and seems inappropriate to some but, it was a HUGE life savor in the beginning when she couldn't hold it long enough to get into the bathroom. I kept my little one naked 24/7 when we were home so that she could easily sit on the potty by herself when she wanted to. I always keep a change of clothes, plastic bags for any messes, candy rewards and lots of wipes in the car.
*Patience. Patience. Patience. I can't tell you how many times my kiddo has said she needs to go potty in Target or any other store for that matter. I run like a maniac for the bathroom only to discover that she only had gas and couldn't tell the difference. hehe. I think we did that 3 times in one shopping trip on one extra special day. lol I still celebrated with her every time we sat on the potty and gave her a tic tac and a big hug. Lots of positive reinforcement no matter what! Even kids that do take right to potty training will still have accidents from time to time. My little gal still doesn't quite know how to take her own panties on and off which also makes things tricky. Today she had her first accident in a while because she couldn't get her pull up off in time and I wasn't close enough to help...being on the potty myself. She tried really hard too because by the time I found her she was naked...just didn't quite make it in time. Regardless, I was still so proud of her for trying and actually getting out of her pants and pull up by herself! She got a candy just for the effort. I'm a sucker what can I say. Kids will often regress during training. They can appear to be doing so well and then have a set back. My little one got diarrhea for nearly two weeks and it pretty much set us back at square one. Within two weeks she was back on track. It's best to prepare for set backs. Then you won't be as frustrated when they arise. Also, when your little one actually figures out how to tell you that they need to go potty (took my daughter 2 weeks to learn that), you may have all of like 30 seconds to rush them to a potty before they has an accident. Get them to a potty quickly! I like to think of potty training as a 6 month adventure...sometimes longer.
Have fun and good luck!!