7 Tried and Tested Ways to Potty Train your Child

Potty Training!!

If you cringed at these terrifying words, then you are in the same boat as me. Potty training is probably the most feared and difficult phase of the parenting life. Even though it is a skill that toddlers will learn eventually, to parents it's a phase that needs so much work and dedication. Just when you thought, that the diaper changing days are over; the accident cleaning and sanitizing days knock you on the head.

That's what we always think right? When they grow older it will all be better.
Unfortunately, as they grow older they demand more attention, time, commitment and love.

Often in the phase of potty training, we forget that the child is much more petrified than us because this is a very new experience for them. It is important that they accept this change while taking away happy memories from it. This learning is something they will sustain for life because they will use the potty for as long as they live. It's not like math! If they don't get it later they'll just change their stream of education. It's like learning how to eat. It's a lesson forever.

So without further delay, let me list down ‘7 tried and tested ways to potty train your toddler’ without making them scared or insecure.

1. Look for Signs:

This is what all books and articles will tell you to do, and very rightly so. Do not jump into potty training before you see the signs; don't worry if they don't show any signs yet, they will when they are ready, the need to do the grown-up thing comes naturally to children when they are emotionally mature. So instead of being anxious about training spend your time observing your child closely. You should be looking for signs like:

  • Don't like diaper anymore
  • Trying to pull down wet/soiled diaper themselves
  • Going to the toilet/ curious about the toilet
  • Try to copy you while you go to the toilet
  •  Hiding to poop/pee
  • Having dry diapers when waking up from naps
Once these signs start surfacing, you should consider getting started with the training phase. I don't want to give an age to potty training, but usually, the signs can come up anytime between 15-24 months. This readiness is very very very important (can't stress enough) for training your child, because before that you will just scare the child away from the concept. 

2. Go Slow- Very Slow:

You spotted the signs, great!! Now what? Go head first into it? Get into the boot camp mode? It would rather be wise here to hold your horses. Don't abruptly stop all diapers and assume that they will grow up overnight. The transition needs to be smooth, in fact, at this point, the transition doesn't play a part. This phase should be all about introducing the toilet, reading potty training books, learning potty words, and strategizing the process. Make the toilet a good place. Decorate if you must stick pictures of cartoon characters sitting on a pot. Use potty accessories that are available in the market, like the potty seat or a portable potty. Your toddler must ‘like’ going to the toilet. It must not be presented as a dirty place to be (that they will understand later in life). Keep the toilet clean, well maintained, and fragrant.

Buy some books, books are really effective learning tools, especially I have found that for potty training. Read these for bedtime or in the day. It will slowly conceptualize the phase in your little one's mind. Also, this is the time to teach the potty words that your child will use to communicate with you. Talk about pee or poo with your child, e.g., “Oh! I see you have poo in your diaper”, or “Mamma has to go pee, and mamma will use the toilet.” This will give your child real time examples. This will also help your child to see you as a role model for the training phase because they almost always want to do what you are doing!

3. Transition:

After giving subtle examples and conceptualizing with your child. Ask them if they want to try going to the toilet and sitting in the pot. Start with just sitting, give it a week, and then be persistent that they must go in the pot, set a time for them to go. This is what I did, I first took my DD (dear daughter) every 15 minutes but soon she got frustrated, so I made that 30 minutes, then 45 and then 1 hour, soon 1 hour had become her body's clock to go pee. This went on until she started confidently telling me that she didn't have to go (yes, I believed and trusted her). Then I started with training pants and slowly just cotton underpants. This whole phase lasted for two months for me. What is important here is that you need to be persistent. You can't get lazy or bored, and say, “Hey, just go in your diaper this once”, when you start this transition make sure you only go ahead from there, don't go back to diapers after introducing training pants, and don’t be in a hurry to eliminate training pants, you will need them for a while, even after the transition phase is complete. My DD is completely trained and yet we feel the need to use training pants when we go outside. So give it time, until both you and your baby are confident.

4. Make It a Game

Plan a few games that will make the time in the potty enjoyable. For e.g., when our DD was in this phase and she was nervous and hesitant, we started playing peek-a-boo, at first it was just peek-a-boo, but slowly every time we hid behind the door or closed our eyes she would go, and by the time we boo'd she will giggle and say all done!
Get creative with your games, be sure they all require them to be sitting on the pot.

5. Positive Reinforcement:

Stickers charts, applause, bubbles, sweet treat or simply a hug/ kiss (any one of these) have to come after the job is successfully done. Positive reinforcement gives the child a sense of achievement, and this sense will make them want to achieve more and more. After a few days, it will become a conditioned response. However, it is also necessary that they don't get any reinforcement if they don't do their job in the toilet. This way going pee/ poo in the pot will be associated with a reward and not otherwise. Sometimes children can misunderstand rewards; they might false call the use of the potty and do it simply for the rewards. As a parent, you need to draw the lines.

6. Strict or Not?

There is no debate on what the books tell us about being strict. They never tell us to be angry with our children and that everything will just fall in place. However, the debate starts when the books and actual parenting collide. Being a parent, I have realized that it depends on your child's temperament. I have a stubborn child and the only way to win over that is to be a tad bit more stubborn than her. I am not and will never endorse thrashing your child, but making rules, drawing lines, and denying rewards should always be a part of your potty training procedure. Once in a while, you might hear your voice louder than you like, but if it is required I say go ahead and shout it out. (But please know when to stop; it is after all just a child). So be strict or not is your choice and your decision. Let it be something you decide solely based on your child's nature, and don't let anyone come in between that.

7. Let your Toddler be In Charge:

Sounds crazy? But it really is not! You will see wonders happening when you put the responsibility of their tasks on them. Just like I said earlier, they get a sense of achievement by doing things successfully. Use this as an opportunity to make your child in charge of their decision (potty training decisions!!). Something as simple as, let them decide when it is time for them to go potty, just keep reminding them that they need to come and tell you if they have to go. This way, you don't have to be behind their back with a timetable, and they will become aware of their needs. In case you aren't around, they will be able to communicate with others as well. Another realization they will have is, that if they don't act fast, or are not attentive, they will wet themselves, which most children don't like. Soon they will function to please themselves rather than pleasing you. It's a win-win situation.
This phase might be scary for you, just hang in there, because sooner or later it will pass. When it does, you will be a happy parent. Until then, take deep breaths, because deep breaths are little love notes to your mind.

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