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Helpful Tips for Potty Training Toddlers

Updated on August 13, 2014

Potty training a toddler can be a trying time for parents and a stressful time for the toddler. There are a variety of tips and tricks to help your toddler learn the concept of potty training while taking the scariness out of it. Try to keep in mind that each toddler is different and what may work for one may not work for another. However, it doesn’t hurt to try these helpful tips.

Educate Yourself

Reading parenting books on how to potty train toddlers would be a good place to start. The more you can educate yourself the better. It can be exciting time to transition from diapers to underwear, but arming yourself with the best strategies used by veteran parents will help take the stress and fears out of potty training your toddler. Your local library is sure to have several books for you to choose from. It is also cheaper than going out and buy several books on potty training your toddlers.

Let Them Pick the Seat

When the time comes to potty train a toddler, first let them pick their own potty seat. This will help give them a little bit more motivation to use the potty seat. You could always nudge them in the direction of lights and sounds so that will make going potty more interesting, but remember the choice must be the toddlers to make potty training more fun.

Let Them Pick Their Underwear

Some people prefer to use training pants and this is fine for starting out by using them at night or on extended trips. However, keep in mind that statistics show that toddler's who use training pants regularly do not potty train as quickly. As an incentive, let your toddler choose their own underwear or panties. As a parent, you can use your toddler's need for some independence by hyping up your child's excitement about getting this new fantastic thing that shows they are becoming a big boy or girl. There are so many styles of underwear out there with a variety of favorite characters so giving the toddler the power to choose is going to help them want to wear them and keep them unsoiled.

If still using training pants, you can hype up allowing them to pick their own big girl panties or big boy underwear as a reward for going potty in their potty seat so many times. They will feel empowered by this simple reward.

When should a child start potty training?

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Schedule Potty Breaks

When starting out, incorporate scheduled potty breaks into their schedule. This will not only help your toddler with learn this new skill of going potty in the toilet, but it will help minimize accidents throughout the day. When potty breaks are placed in their schedule, going potty becomes routine and they will be more likely to let you know when they have to go outside the scheduled routine of potty breaks.

Some parents will take the toddler to the potty seat or toilet every 15 to 30 minutes to begin with. This is just so the child will get used to the frequency and method. Consider it also a time to "practice" and talk to your child about the importance of going in the toilet compared to their pants. Talk about all of the advantages. In other words, use the time to get your child excited about potty training.

After a few days to a week, you can even extend the scheduled time to 60, 90, or 120 minutes. Perhaps consider ordering a "potty watch". It is a timer the child wears on his or her wrist, much like a watch. This will remind the child that it is time to try to go potty in the toilet. This is helpful when most kids get distracted having so much fun playing that they sometimes forget about the need to go to the potty until it is too late.

Scheduling potty breaks after meals is very important. They have just consumed food and drink and during the digestive process, most people will have to use the bathroom shortly after eating a meal.

If you are traveling, whether locally or long distance, be sure to map out and schedule potty breaks for your toddler. Some parents also keep the snacking and drinking to a minimum when traveling long distances because this could cause more frequent urges to go potty and increase the chances of potty accidents while en-route.


Do you (or did you) use potty charts with your potty training child?

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Potty Charts

All kids enjoy incentives and rewards. By having a potty chart with stars will help encourage your toddler to use their potty seat more often. First allow your child to pick a chart of their choosing. You can either create one with your child from poster board or go to Potty Training Concepts to choose a free chart to print. Next, decide how many stars the child must collect in order to get a reward. Typically, weekly rewards are recommended. Rewards can be as simple as extra playtime to a toy. It is up to you, your budget, and the toddler.

Motivate Your Toddler

Get to know what would motivates your child to want to have more of an interest and passion to transition from diapers to big kid underwear. Finding out what rewards that will motivate your child will help with the whole process. You can chose, based on your child's interest, small rewards for individual actions, such as asking and actually going in the potty. These are small treats your toddler will see as immediate rewards. However, still keep a bigger reward to motivate your child to stay on track as mentioned above.

Praising Your Toddler

Be sure to encourage and praise your toddler, especially when they go in the potty. However, keep in mind that although toddlers tend to thrive on seeking approval from their parents, if you lay on the praise a little thick they will probably look at you like you have lost your mind. They may also see this as a way to manipulate you to get what they want in the future, such as a extra reward or use going potty as a way to negotiate with you. So give words of encouragement and praise but do not over-exaggerate it or go on and on about it.

Books and Videos for Toddlers

Another good idea is to have toddler books and DVDs on potty training. These can be read to the child frequently as well as stored in next to their potty seat for them to look at while going to the bathroom. And if your budget is tight, instead of buying tons of DVDs for them to watch over and over, there are many videos on YouTube and Vimeo. The more the toddler is exposed to the concept of toilet training, the more likely they will be encouraged to do so.

Watch and Observe

Some parents have had luck with taking the toddler of their same gender into the bathroom when they use the toilet. This provides an example of what to do. Many toddlers what to be just like mom or dad. Setting a good example even in the bathroom will also help take the fear out of going to the bathroom in a toilet.

Cheerios to Practice Aim

Many toddler boys start off sitting down when urinating, but there is going to come a time when they will need to learn to urinate while standing up. Some parents have used a couple of Cheerios in the toilet to allow the toddler to aim for the center of the Cheerio. This helps them practice their aim.

Once you start your toddler on a toilet training process, stick with it. It will only confuse the toddler if you don’t stay on top of the toilet training process. If one method is blatantly not working it is fine to try another method, just don’t give up on toilet training all together.

© 2014 L. Sarhan


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