Methods for Beginning Pottytraining

pottytrainingOnce you decide you and your child are ready to start pottytraining or learning, where do you even begin?

For starters, in my experience most children like using a potty their size to start. I was not too keen on the thought of cleaning a little plastic potty all day at the beginning and bought the child-sized ring for the regular toilet. My kid was terrified of it. Many feel they are going to fall in. Second, if you have a multiple story house, I’d buy a potty for each floor. Nobody wants to be carting around tiny toilets all day if they can help it (your hands are probably always full anyway).

One method of toilet training is the potty sticker chart. After showing your child the mechanics, you set up a sticker chart. Each successful potty visit results in praise and a sticker (accidents are generally not reprimanded, the goal here is potty learning through positive reinforcement). When enough stickers are earned, the child can trade them in for a prize. Other options for this method are little treats in a jar (my friend had an M&M jar in plain sight for her son; each success was rewarded with a candy), or some people will put the stickers right on the small potty.

Another method is elimination communication, or EC. This method involves conditioning your child at an early age to pee or poop in the potty, by the parent learning to watch for the child’s signals. Some parents will purchase or make special potty pants like what are used in other cultures to allow for potty use before a child is able to pull up her own pants.

The most popular successful method I’ve used and seen used (though there are tons of other techniques out there) is the three-day potty training method. Generally speaking, you must clear your schedule for three days (and have somebody else help keep an eye on other children in the house if possible). It’s basically three straight days of one-on-one potty learning boot camp. The method says to do night training at the same time, but when I used it I did not follow that rule; my son still has to get up at night to go to the bathroom at age 4, and he was still sleeping in a crib then so it just wasn’t going to happen).

An even more intense boot camp type potty learning experience is the potty party, or 1-day potty training. This utilizes some of the methods from the three day method, but condenses all of the education and training into one day (it does not promise to also have your child night trained in a day). It sounded goofy to me at first, but it was incredibly effective at toilet training both my super stubborn oldest son and my super stubborn nephew.

One final note, many people choose to start little boys using the potty exclusively sitting at first, then working on their aim later on after potty learning is well established. My sons were allowed to stand if they wanted, which worked for us, but it was a surprise to our childcare provider. Child care providers usually are very helpful in reinforcing potty training ideals, but you may want to mention that or any other technique they may not be familiar with.

When I felt that my son could be using the potty but just didn’t want to, we used the same 1-day potty party method my sister used with my nephew. It works similar to the three-day method, but it’s condensed into a day and includes a lot of rewards and teaching (and of course, a party). It sounded kitschy to me, but it really did work for both boys. My husband actually is the one that trained my oldest, as we had a very young infant at the time and taking frequent nursing breaks didn’t seem very easy with this method.

Meaghan Howard is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoying living overseas with her husband and two young children. She enjoys traveling, running, and the most excellent sport of all time, dragon boat.

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