Toilet Training Tug-of-War
People often ask the question, “How do I know when my child is ready to potty train?” Of equal significance is the question, “How do I know when I am ready to potty train my child?” The short answer is that you’re ready when you have enough wine, Windex, and paper towels to get you through it. The point is that this is something the two of you are doing together, so you both need to be “ready.”
There are mothers and grandmothers throughout the world preaching with great expertise on readiness. Some will tell you that your child is ready whenever they can tell you they are ready. Some say that they are ready when they are waking up consistently with dry diapers. Others think you should start when your child knows he or she has a dirty diaper. First, let me clarify that I am no expert, but that I have found a few things helpful with all three of my successfully potty trained children.
- If you’re going to start, start! Don’t mess around with potty training until you are really ready to commit to doing it. I basically ground myself and my child for about a week. The initial excitement your child has is key to her success so be prepared to carve out some time.
- Speaking of excitement, this should be fun! Don’t break the bank or anything, but get a new pack of undies, a new potty seat, and lots of rewards that she will want to work towards. Note that “new” doesn’t have to mean “new with tags,” just something she hasn’t seen before.
Also remember that rewards will differ for each child. Some like stickers, others goldfish or M&M’s, and for the easy-to-please, sometimes you just need to cheer a lot each time they make it. Rewards for mom don’t hurt either – wine, chocolates, a nice dinner at the end of the week…
- Although the rewards are great, don’t go overboard on the snacks and new stuff. You don’t want to promise your kid an ice cream bar every time they hop off the toilet. Your child is smart–she will learn quickly how badly you want her to use the potty and you can end up swimming in debt with a sugar-crazed kid before it’s all over.
- Get a timer. The old-fashioned wind up kind, the one on your microwave, an iPhone app, whatever. Despite the time out you’re trying to take to tackle this task, life unfortunately does not let up. It’s easy to get distracted by work, phone calls, basic household chores, or other children, so set your timer for 30 minutes the first couple of days and encourage them to sit for a minute every time it dings.
If you need, go ahead and set the timer again for 1 minute once your child takes a seat. For one of my children, the ding itself telling her she could get up was enough of a reward and no treats were even necessary. For the more restless child you can try story time, songs with hand motions, or even move a mini-potty in front of the TV. I’ve spend several hours of my life sitting on a stool, staring at the toilet, and singing “The Wheels on the Bus.”
- There will be accidents! “Potty trained” just means she knows how to use the potty; it does not mean she will always do so on time. Regardless of how many puddles you clean up in a day, your child will eventually learn to make it every time–just like you and I did!
- Lastly, remember that this is not a fight or a competition between you and your toddler (or you and your friends with toddlers) so don’t make it one. You don’t want to turn this into a toilet tug-of-war – you and your tot are on the same team. Good luck!
Much mommy love, Mommy Mentor Cafe du Mom
What have your experiences been with potty training? Let us know by commenting below or by visiting our facebook page.
The Mommy Mentors chime in:
CurlyQ: “Cafe du Mom mentioned that her older kids would get a treat with the toddler if they cheered him on. I tried it this week with my potty training toddler, and it worked great. The big kids have been very conscious of how much time has passed and if he needs to sit on the potty because they really want a jelly bean, too!”
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