Oh, potty training. It’s something you look forward to (hello, end of diapers!) but in reality it is like you are going to war. And the worst part? You are under the command of a temperamental toddler who couldn’t care less about your expensive furniture or about taking a break from playing to sit on a cold, hard toilet. But here’s the thing: You will get through it. How? By being flexible, investing in some great carpet cleaners (and a bottle of wine if need be) and maintaining a sense of humor.
I have two little boys, one who is totally and completely toilet trained and one who is still learning. As for me, I am continuously learning and what I have discovered most about the potty-training process is that I just need to let go because the process is different for everyone.
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way that I hope can help you, too:
1. Let your child take the lead. Let’s face it, we all know that our children aren’t going to do something unless it interests them. So if they are continuously fighting you about sitting on the toilet or putting on underwear, listen to them. You can always try again next month. They will not be in diapers when they go off to college, I promise.
2. Make it a fun experience. We are book lovers, so we have turned bathroom time into book time. Keep great books nearby so you can read while waiting for some potty magic.
3. Track progress. Sticker charts can work very well to keep a child motivated and see progress. At certain increments, we take a visit to a favorite places to celebrate, such as a train restaurant or roller skating rink.
4. Pump up the positives and downplay the negatives. Your child will have accidents. It isn’t the biggest deal in the world. Simply clean up and remind him or her to use the potty when “that feeling” comes. And when the waste makes it into the potty? Throw the biggest celebration that you can. Positive reinforcement outshines negative reinforcement any day of the week.
5. Stop comparing. Is there a mom on social media boasting that her 18 month old is perfectly toilet trained? Good for her. Are you like me and having a much more difficult time toilet training one child versus the other? Parenting and comparing are a dangerous mix. Don’t give in.
6. Be prepared. Once your child is using the potty more frequently than a diaper, don’t expect it to be a cake walk. They will “have to go” when you are stuck in traffic and will occasionally refuse to go when not in the comfort of their own home. So be sure to always pack extra clothes, supplies and a potty seat wherever you go. Trust me.