Potty training – two words that can bring even the most confident parent out in a cold sweat. But potty training doesn’t need to be hard or stressful. We sat down with parenting coach and author Andalene Salvesen (aka Super Granny) to get her ultimate potty training tips. Here’s what she had to say.
Potty training tips #1: Don’t rush it
Every child is an individual so there is no ideal age to begin potty training. However, in my experience I’ve found that girls are generally ready at around two, and boys tend to be a little later at two and a half. I always tell my parents to be patient because when a child is ready to potty train, it takes two-to-three days. If they’re not ready, it takes two-to-three weeks (or longer!).
Potty training tips #2: Let’s talk about poo
When you’re changing your child’s nappy always be sure to talk them through it, explaining, ‘look, you’ve done a pee,’ or, ‘look, you’ve done a poo’. Connecting a word with a positive attitude, (i.e. not ‘yuck’ or ‘stinky’) is the first step to them understanding the concept of needing the toilet and knowing how to tell you.
Potty training tips #3: Timing is everything
Once you’ve got your little one interested in the potty concept, get into the habit of sitting them on the potty or toilet (with the help of a safety step and toilet trainer) every night before their bath. As the water runs their bladder will respond.
Potty training tips #4: Incentivize, incentivize, incentivize
Just before you begin potty training, buy some cute little pairs of training pants and show them to your tot. You’d be surprised how excited little ones are about the idea of wearing pants for the first time. Let them know that when they start using the potty, they can wear their new pants.
Potty training tips #5: Be prepared
I always encourage parents to stay at home for a few days when they are potty training. The reason for this is that you’re likely to have fewer accidents or setbacks when your child is in their own environment. If you do feel the need to go out, arrange a play date at a friend’s house. That way you can bring the potty with you and avoid disrupting the new routine.
Potty training tips #6: Credit where credit’s due
Under the age of three your child doesn’t understand the concept of working towards a goal, so using a star chart as a way to reward them won’t be very effective. Instead, it’s all about instant gratification, so keep a jar of mini treats, such as marshmallows, teeny cookies, stickers or stamps, and give a reward every time they use the potty successfully.
Potty training tips #7: Never be negative
In the event that your child has an accident, never tell them off. Ultimately this is not a discipline issue, it’s a bladder issue and at two and a half the bladder is still developing. That’s why it’s called an ‘accident’.
Potty training tips #8: Never ask
If you ask your child if they need a pee, their first reaction will always be, ‘no’. Instead, keep telling them, ‘remember to tell mummy when you want to go for a pee.’ That way it’s a reminder without expectation. You can also set a timer so you know the rough time that they might want to go.
Potty training tips #9: Heap on praise
Positive reinforcement is incredibly important during the potty training process, so be sure to praise them when they use the potty successfully.
Potty training tips #10: Make it fun
Potty training needs to be lighthearted and fun, so when your child tells you they need a pee, make an activity of it. Say things like, ‘run, run, run, let’s go and sit on the potty!’ or encourage them to race you to the toilet.
Potty training tips #11: Reduce the fear factor
Sometimes little ones can become very anxious about using the potty, particularly for ‘number twos’. If you feel your child is feeling stressed about the whole process, stop for a few weeks. It’s simply not worth pressuring your child and causing them to be nervous.
Potty training tips #12: Don’t put pressure on yourself
Just because a friend’s child is out of nappies it doesn’t mean yours should be, so try not to let peer pressure influence you. Every child is different, so trust your gut and only begin potty training when you feel your little one is ready.
Andalene Salvesen is a parenting coach and author. To learn more about her or to book an appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to visit her website.