Toilet training can be a very daunting time for parents. Though it may seem like a relatively straight-forward process, when the time comes to start to introduce the toilet and reduce dependency on diapers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
There are, after all, many factors to consider. There is a wealth of advice available (both requested and unsolicited) but many tips are conflicting and it’s tough to know which ones will be right for your kid. Even knowing whether or not a child is ready can make even the calmest parent feel jittery.
It’s important to remind yourself that there is no single perfect way to toilet train a child. The goal isn’t to try to make everything ideal all the way through and feel guilty or frustrated when things go wrong. The goal is to try to help to make the transition as smooth as possible and to recover quickly and in a positive way when things don’t happen according to plan.
Use the following checklist to help to make sure you’re ready to give your child as smooth and positive an experience as possible, keeping stress levels down and success levels high.
- Talk about it – Talk about going to the bathroom and the various stages involved in that. This can involve demonstrating how the toilet is used, including flushing afterward (which many children love), followed by hand washing. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable and interested your child may become.
- Watch for signs that he/she is ready – Every child has his or her own time to be ready for toilet training. This in involves both physical and emotional readiness. Watch for when the dry times between diaper changes are longer and more consistent. Watch to see if your child chooses to have bowel movements on his/her own or in a hidden place, even though he or she is still wearing diapers. Signs like these indicate both interest and potential readiness.
- Choose a technique – There are many different guides and tools to help during the transition. Decide whether or not you will be using Pull-Ups, a kids’ potty, or a training seat on the actual toilet, and so on.
- Always use the bathroom – Even if you’re using a kids’ potty instead of the toilet for the first while, keep it in the bathroom to reinforce the need to use that room and only that room for toilet-related activities. In fact, place the potty next to the toilet if there’s room to do so, to further encourage the association with the activity. Ideally, there should be one potty in every bathroom in your home so your little one never needs to travel far.
- Be consistent – Once toilet training starts, make sure all caregivers are on board with the same strategy. Consistency is very reassuring and can help to avoid preventable mistakes along the way.
- Be prepared for accidents – This includes having a fresh full change of clothes ready for your little one wherever you go (yes, even a shirt…when it happens, you’ll know why) and protecting furniture, particularly the bed, with a waterproof mattress protector and pillow protector. That way, when accidents occur, you’ll be ready for them and less likely to become frustrated.
- Buy clothing that is easy to remove – Ideally, your child should be able to pull down his or her own clothing quite easily. In this way, once your child feels the need to use the toilet, there won’t be a risk of an accident because s/he can’t get his/her clothing off in time.
- Make potty time fun – Sitting on a potty chair can be dull. Place a couple of (washable) toys within easy reach of the potty or read books during this time. That way, your child will not associate the time with boredom and avoid it.
- Be ready for setbacks – Try to keep a positive attitude and a good sense of humor. Some kids transition to a toilet quickly while others need time. Be prepared for some messy surprises and – as much as you might feel inclined to become frustrated – avoid getting angry or losing patience with your little one.
Remember that this is a time in which your little one is in control, and you’re there to provide support and resources. You can’t make things go any faster than they are supposed to for your child. Instead of rushing things, be prepared, be positive and celebrate your victories together.