Are you worried about your 3-year-old who is not fully potty trained yet? Are you kind of embarrassed that your kid has to wear a diaper when he goes out? I remember when I had to potty train my little guy, the stress the whole process comes with, the worry whether my kiddo will adjust to it.
The fact is- potty training doesn’t have to be stressful. Period! It’s the parents who are way more stressed than the kids and thus making your kids uncomfortable with trying a new, different thing. Research suggests that most kids are potty trained between the age of 2 and 3 years, but every child is different, and so is their development for the necessary gross motor skills. To learn how to use the toilet depends on the child’s ability to understand the process of peeing and pooping. They’ll develop the cognitive, physical and emotional skills that help them recognize that it’s time to go pee-pee or poo-poo or to be able to hold those muscles until they reach the toilet and then let go. These skills are usually developed after they are 18 months old and are fully developed by 36 months of age. To make the potty training go smoothly, choose the right outfit and potty for your kid, get a step stool, schedule a fixed time, buy picture books, and lastly be patient with your kid.
So, relax and breathe in and out, take it one day at a time and who knows your kid might even surprise you one day by going to the loo alone without your help.
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When should I start potty training my kid?
The worst thing you can do is jump the gun and begin potty training too early (which believe me is going to be disastrous). Don’t try to rush in this process when your kid is too young because they will not cooperate, and you will just end up frustrated.
Most children are different when it comes to potty training. You can gradually start potty training your kid after they turn 2 when they become more curious about the toilet and wants to know what goes on in there.
But, it is also very intimidating for them, to be able to adjust to an entirely new environment and may not show interest until they are 2 ½ or even 3 years old. They have been in their diapers up till now and suddenly ditching those diapers and becoming a big boy overnight can be daunting.
So, start potty training them when they begin to show signs that they are ready.
What are the signs that your child is ready to potty train?
It’s essential that your child is ready to potty train, and when this happens, there are few cues that your kid will give. I knew that the day had finally arrived to start potty training my kid when he started showing the following signs.
1. You have to change fewer wet diapers now.
Till the age of almost 2 years, your kid will pee frequently, but a kid who is ready for potty training can go longer- a stretch of almost two hours, with a dry diaper.
2. Your child will tell you when his diaper is dirty.
Your kid will soon try to indicate that she has already wet or soiled his diaper and wants you to change him.
3. Your child will use the bathroom lingo.
Before your child goes #1 or #2, they will announce it to you (I’m gonna poo poo!). They will start communicating to you through words or even through a grunt. Whatever the sign is, you need to understand them and help them towards potty training.
4. Your child shows interest in what others do in the toilet.
Going in the toilet alone will not be possible once your kid shows curiosity on what goes in the toilet and why does everyone go in there. They will want to know what Mommy or Daddy do in the toilet.
5. Your child will know how to undress himself.
You will soon start to notice that your child has become little independent by learning how to pull off and pull up his pants. This skill will help him a lot once you start potty training and when he needs to go to the toilet immediately.
The other common tell-tales are:
- Their bowel movements have become regular.
- They wake up in the morning with a dry diaper.
- They want privacy when they start pooping in their diaper.
- They express interest in wearing underpants.
- They can follow instructions well.
How long does it take to potty train?
That really depends on your child and how much patient you are with your child. Teaching your child how to use the toilet at the right age, and when they show signs of readiness makes the whole process go smoothly.
Once your kid shows that he is ready, potty training can last from two to three months, and if you’re super lucky and your kid is ready, it can also take just a couple of weeks.
Tips on how to potty train your toddler
Choose the right outfit
If you’re starting potty training your kid then gone are the days of overalls and onesies. Dress them in something that can be pulled up and down like pants or dresses that can be easily hiked up
Buy the right potty
Let your kid choose whether he wants his own potty or a potty seat. You want your child to feel completely safe and comfortable in the potty seat. A shaky potty seat that is placed on the toilet can be frightening for the child.
Get a step stool in your toilet
If you’re going to make your kid sit on a training seat, then it is better you get a step stool so that your kid can rest his legs on the stool. Dangling legs can cause fear of falling and can be uncomfortable for him, and this can instill a fear of going to the bathroom.
Create a daily schedule for potty training
Pick a time for potty training every day so that your child is habituated to a potty routine. Don’t start when it is most stressful, like the birth of another child, or if you have just moved to a new place. Let him sit on the potty every day for at least 5 minutes to make the surrounding familiar.
Tell him about potty training through picture books
Give him picture books during day time or read him books about going to the toilet to give him a heads up on what’s going to happen.
Wear your patient hat
You cannot rush in this process, you and your child are both new to this and need to trust each other and be patient with each other, especially you- the Parent! It can be frustrating at times but don’t scold, scream or punish your kid, rather try to understand what’s troubling your child.
Tricks to potty train your kid
Bribery comes in handy
Promising them to give them something if they go on the toilet can be a success. You can offer few M&Ms when they pee in the toilet and little more if they have pooped. Make sure only to give rewards when they go in the potty and not throughout the day, as the novelty would vanish for them. You can also make a chart and buy their favorite stickers and stick them on the chart as a part of a reward they get after finishing their ‘business’ on the potty.
This is a tactic used by many parents I know. Letting them roam around without any underpants or diapers can make them grasp the process of potty training more quickly. It also saves the whole hassle of removing his pants or diaper when he wants to go to the potty.
Acknowledge and praise them, be their cheerleader when they are successful. But, make sure not to overdo it because it will put unwanted pressure on them when there’s an accident. Even if they don’t do it on the potty seat, appreciate them for at least trying.
Things to remember while potty training
Accidents are bound to happen
While potty training your kid, you cannot expect everything to go smoothly with your kid mastering this skill within a few days. No! Accidents will happen, but don’t shame your kid or scold them. You need to be neutral and tell them that “it’s okay hon, we’ll just clean this up.” You’re likely to become less frustrated if you’re ready for the worst-case scenarios.
Let going to the potty be your kid’s choice
Let him know that he’s now a big boy or girl and they can use the potty whenever they want. Please don’t force them into something they are not ready for. If the kid is too reluctant to go to the toilet, try to understand his problems, his fears, what makes him so much hesitant and try to work out a solution. Know if your kid is constipated and how can you help him.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it
If you need help, ask your husband or a grandparent to pitch in if it turns out too stressful for you.
Don’t fall for peer pressure
Relatives or friends who are parents to kids of the same as yours can pass comment on why your kid is not potty trained yet. Getting worked up on such peer pressure puts unnecessary pressure on the child too. Your kids are the first ones to pick up on your frustration. So, relax, breathe and chill. Give you and your baby a little time to cope up with the process.
If the potty training is not going well and you have exhausted all ways to potty train your kid, then my advice to you is – take a step back, and remember that it’s okay to not accomplish something the way you wanted it to. Take a break and go back to diapers and try again a few weeks later. This will give your child to relax and get the pressure off of them. They will learn to use the toilet; eventually, all kids do. Meanwhile, enjoy the toddler phase; shower them with your love affection, and kisses and start potty training again with little bit more patience this time.
Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid, you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best’.