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Potty Training - the good, the bad, and the ugly

Updated on November 15, 2013

After you have children, and you have changed your 1,000th diaper you start thinking, "I am so ready for potty training." But are you really? Are you prepared to deal with multiple accidents? What about total melt downs over having to sit on the potty? Not to mention the many times you'll take your child to the bathroom and he or she will sit for hours and do nothing but play.

As a parent, it can be ridiculously frustrating to teach your child something that seems like it should come naturally. Don't worry though, thanks to the internet and the many seasoned parents before you, there's help out there!

Is Your Child Ready

You may be sick and tired of changing diapers but is your child ready to start the potty training adventure? There is no right or wrong age to begin potty training though many people begin introducing their child to the idea between the ages of 2 and 3. Children who are younger than 12 months still do not have bladder or bowel control and even some toddlers who are 2+ don't exhibit full control.

There are some signs that show your child may be ready to start trying. Remember this is just a guide so don't feel like your child has to meet every one of these goals before attempting to potty train.

Is it time to begin potty training?

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Signs of Potty Training Readiness

Watch for these signs that indicate your child may be ready to begin potty training.

  • Wakes up dry from nap time or goes for long periods of time (2 hours or more)without wetting in a diaper.
  • Bowel movements are routine or predictable.
  • Is able to use the up and down motion required for removing pants and underwear during potty time.
  • Expresses interest in the bathroom or toilet
  • Uses words for urine and feces (Ex. pee pee, poo poo)
  • Is able to tell you when he or she has already soiled a diaper
  • Expresses independence and the desire to be a "big kid"
  • Is uncomfortable when wearing a wet or dirty diaper
  • Is motivated by rewards and achievements

Check out this helpful video

Your Child is Ready, Now What?

Your child is showing many readiness signs, so now what? What comes next is the "fun" part!

Start your journey by introducing your child to a potty chair. There are many different styles out there, what works for you may not work for someone else but take into consideration that the more secure your child feels about sitting on the potty, the higher the chance is they'll feel comfortable enough to use it. Purchase a stand alone chair, place it in the bathroom with the "big potty".

Take your child to the potty routinely, set a timer so you don't lose track of the time! Consistency is key. Remember, not every time you take your child will be a success but when he or she does use the potty, positively reinforce it with rewards! Motivating your child with rewards can produce results so consider giving treats for every successful potty trip. Try fruit snacks, gummy bears, skittles or M&M's and give a set number for each type of potty success. For example: 1 gummy bear for going pee pee and 2 for going poo poo. You can also try potty training charts. Keep track of successful potty visits with stickers or reward your child with quarters to spend at the end of the week on a special prize. You know your child best so choose something you feel will be the most productive and don't be afraid to try something different if you don't succeed initially. This is a learning experience for you both.

Try using big girl panties or big boy underwear instead of diapers. Show them how mommy and daddy wear them. Create competitions, make it a game to see which of you can use the potty more during the day. Take your child with you to the bathroom every time you go.

Potty training boys can be exceptionally difficult especially when it comes to training them to potty standing up. Start by teaching them how to use the restroom sitting down first. Once they've gotten the hang of it, start introducing them to the standing method. Put cheerios or fruit loops in the potty and tell him to "shoot" the targets or sing the rings. Make it a fun game that will encourage him to put the urine in the toilet. Don't forget to reward him for successful trips!

Stay positive when your child has accidents, it will happen and for some there will be more accidents than successes. Just remember to encourage your child to use the potty and show him or her where the pee pee and poo poo goes. If the accident is stool, take your child to the toilet and have him or her watch as you flush the poop down the toilet. Encourage your child to put the poop in the potty next time because that is where it goes. Be firm but not too harsh, you don't want to discourage your child's efforts. If your child is afraid of going #2, consider teaching him about his anatomy and how digestion works. If you child understands why his body is evacuating his food, he may be less inclined to resist letting go of it.


Potty Training Books

We all know reading to your child is important so why not incorporate potty training into your reading routine. There are many books out there to help spark your child's interest in the toilet. Try a few of these:

Everyone Poops

I Want My Potty

The Potty Book for Girls

The Potty Book for Boys

Elmo's Potty Book

Elmo's Potty Training Song

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    • notavgcraftymom profile image

      Amanda 4 years ago from Texas

      That is so true! We are a blended family and at one point we had two 2 year olds who were both still in diapers. Our son trained relatively easily whereas our daughter...not so much. She was so stubborn with it but finally she made up her mind to start using the potty. We were so thankful for that day!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Potty training is so interesting in some ways because it's different for each child. I had no problem training my second son.... my first one it's another story. The good thing to remind yourself for those who might be discouraged is that you don't usually see 6 years old with diapers (except if they have a specific medical condition). So, there is hope ;-)

      There are all kind of techniques and we each have to see what works best for each child! As I was getting desperate with my eldest son... I tried to find something to motivate him, so I used brown butter cream and pretend his doll did it on the potty. He was quite impressed :-) My younger one was easy to be potty trained because he wanted to be like his older brother (who was out of diapers at that time)!

      It's another great hub that can be very useful for young mothers :-)