Potty training is a nightmare that can be far worse than any messy diaper your child can conjure. However, I am now the proud parent of three fully potty trained little ones, thank God. I got here my exercising lots of patience and by practicing due diligence. I have changed my fair share of dirty diapers – ones that seem to have been created just to spite my best efforts – but when it finally came time for my kids to start potty training, I didn’t mess around.
I love my kids but it didn’t take long before I was over that daunting stage of wiping up those disgusting messes, especially the ones that got into their hair after it somehow crept up their backs. There’s nothing quite like having to take the garbage out every single day to avoid the unholy stench that a precious baby can create. The days of carrying around a huge bag of spare diapers for my children could not have come any sooner; and so each time one of my kid’s was at an age where potty training was even remotely possible, they went through “Mommy’s Big Kid Boot Camp.”
First You Have to Bust the Myths
As a parent you are always privy to receiving lots of unsolicited advice, usually from other parents who think they know it all. You might find some of these tips helpful but you should always remember that every kid is unique. If anyone knows that then it’s a parent of three vastly different little ones.
Many parents hear that their kids will not potty train until they are good and ready. Although there is some truth to that advice, there are always creative methods that you can use encourage your young men to put their business where it belongs. Another common myth is that boys are harder to train than girls. There are no scientific studies to support this statement; and so going into it with that belief might hinder you and your child’s progress. Bust the myths of bad and ineffective parenting and just find something that works for your family.
Create Tailored Training Techniques
As luck would have it, each of my kids required a customized approach to potty training. I think that overlooking how common this is happens to be where a lot of parents go wrong. Moms and dads are unwilling to take their child’s personality into consideration when potty training; and thus, they are left changing even more diapers in frustration.
Think about the way you would like to be approached to do something you are not yet comfortable doing. If your child is shy, afraid of water, scared of loud or unfamiliar noises, or simply timid, then your potty training techniques need to reflect that. On the same token, a relatively rambunctious toddler may require that potty training seem more like an exciting game than a calming and reliving ritual. Thinking about your kid’s unique personality is one of the first steps you can take towards successful potty training.
Give It to Them Straight
Your little ones can understand more about how the real world works than you probably give them credit for. Sitting them down and explaining the importance of being a big child who goes to the potty is a great way to boost your little man’s self-esteem while encouraging him to go to the bathroom on his own. Spell it out for them; after all, they are just children and to them their diaper has been working out just fine up until this point. You are the one who wants them to be potty trained, but you need to make them understand that it’s what they want as well.
In my experience, getting extremely excited about your child’s potty training endeavors is highly effective. When your kid finally does attempt to potty in the toilet instead of in their pants, you should act as though it is the most exciting thing you have ever seen. This might seem like overkill but I assure you that it’s not.
Adults always need their egos stroked to feel relevant; and little ones are simply adults in training. For that reason alone, showing your kid that their good deeds are incredible will make them want to do it more often. When my kids went potty I nearly lost my mind in excitement (for them and for me). I was clapping and shouting, offering candy and kisses until they were asking me to take them to the bathroom so that they could get some more.
Keep It Regular
Getting your kid to understand that the sensation they are feeling means they need to use the restroom is not as difficult as you might think. It only takes some determination and a regular potty-time schedule, at least at first. As with everything else in parenting, consistency is key.
I used a potty timer for this, and I took my child to the restroom once every hour for a couple of days. To some busy parents, this might seem like a lot and it is; but this huge time investment has an even bigger payoff. After going to the bathroom that many times and then being praised heavily when they successfully relieved themselves, my kids began to understand the gist of the situation and my days of diaper changing were soon over.
You Can Lead a Toddler to the Toilet But You Can’t Make Him Go
All of that “advice” you get about potty training is worthless if you can’t even get your kid to step foot into the bathroom. You can customize toilet training as much as you want, you can talk to your kid about being big until you’re blue in the face, and you can even throw a potty party in his or her honor; but at the end of the day if you can’t get him to sit on the toilet your efforts are in vain. Here are some of the best ways I’ve seen to get your kid excited about potty training:
- Get color-changing toilet water tabs
- Put cereal in the bowl for dunking
- Make a sticker chart for achievements
- Offer your child pennies when they successfully go
- Let an older sibling show them how it’s done
- Allow them to go and pick out their new big kid underwear
In essence, you want to think like a child if you want to successfully get through to them. You can read countless potty training books or you can simply get down on their level and make it something enjoyable and comforting. If your child is not potty training after a while and you are out of ideas, it may be time to talk to a pediatrician.