So you’ve talked up the concepts of toileting, elimination, and boosted your child’s excitement about using the potty. You’ve got your potty training arsenal stocked, and you’re set to begin toilet training. Now what?
Choose a week when you’ve got the most time available to dedicate to your little diaper graduate. Extended holidays and holiday weekends are great times to teach the potty basics. You’ll want to have your eyes on your child nearly every waking minute, so be sure to plan wisely. It’s helpful if you’ve got a tag teammate with you to keep you optimistic, motivated, and to help out when frustration sets in too. If your spouse or a friend isn’t available to help, don’t despair. Millions of single parents have children none of whom went to kindergarten in diapers.
Begin at a time when your child is most attentive and approachable; morning is helpful, but not written in stone. Set up the potty or potty seat insert and keep your pottying doll or plush toy on hand, dressed in panties, of course. Demonstrate how the doll uses the potty by pouring a cup of water behind the doll’s bottom, seated on the potty. Praise the doll wildly! Do a dance. Make up a potty song. Recall your high school days and do a cheer. Your child will love it. Reward the doll with whatever reward you’ve chosen to give your child. We used stickers for her shirt and rice cake bits in the very beginning. Guide your child to the potty after the demo and encourage him to follow suit. Explain to your toddler the importance both of using the potty when we have to go AND of keeping their panties dry. My little girl still loves to show off her dry panties several times per day by patting her panties and declaring “Da!” translation: dry. If your child eliminates, praise him like crazy, just like you did with his toy.
Watch those sweet little eyes light up and his hands clap for his own success. If you’re using a potty chart, be sure to allow him to choose a sticker and help you adhere it. Have him peek into the potty and help you flush. We say “bye bye” to pee pee. Wash his hands and treat him with a few Cheerios or snack of your choice, and then keep an eagle eye on him for signs that he needs to go again.
Don’t worry too much if you miss his signs the first few times. You’ll catch on pretty quickly, and if you’ve got a fast learner, he’ll be hand signaling you when he needs to potty, or even walking to the potty himself. If he has an accident, quickly lead him to the potty and let him know that “pee pee goes in the potty.” Allow him to sit a few minutes to finish up on the potty, if he needs. Even if he only drips a few drops of urine into the potty, throw the same excited praise party for him along with treats & stickers as before. When finished, lead him to the accident site and have him help you clean up the puddle. Let him be as involved as you feel comfortable.
Continue just as any normal day, with your gaze fixed on your child, going through these steps time and time again. He will catch on quickly if he’s ready, and you won’t be as worn out as you might expect. I’d advise to give him at least 3 full days of potty practice before you decide to throw in the towel for lack of progress. My little girl went through 3 days of intense training at 15 months, and was just not catching on enough to continue. Fast forward only 3 months and it clicked, almost magically! We began on a Thursday and were able to tote her along to church on Sunday morning with no accidents whatsoever. Granted, each child learns at his own pace, but it’s not unrealistic for your child to pick up in just a day or so.
- Having extra mommy snacks around the house is helpful for those frustrating afternoons when you feel as if you’ve spent more hours sitting next to the potty than in your entire lifetime. That will happen.
- Call, or better yet Skype Daddy or someone special in your child’s life, and brag to them about the Jr.s pottying success. Let your child spill the beans, if they’re able. They’ll love the extra attention & supportive whoops coming from the other end of the line.
- Be creative with potty entertainment if your child isn’t smitten to sit long enough. Sometimes we pull out the laptop and play Summer’s favorite “I Love Potty Training” video & it keeps her seated a few extra minutes. I’ve even been known to hand over the sippy cup in times of desperation.
- As soon as you’re both ready, take your child out of the house on short trips. Ask her to potty before leaving the house, and continually praise her for dry panties. It’s amazing how much a breath of fresh air at the park helps to renew your motivation to continue.
If you have any questions/doubts be sure to email me at jelli [at] jellibeanjournals [dot] com