By Perry Schroeder, Brookridge Day School Lead Early Preschool Teacher Room C
So you’ve decided to embark on the great journey of potty training your little one. Getting rid of diapers and introducing your big kid to underwear…are you terrified? Don’t feel bad, because your child, teacher, relatives are also terrified but are all on the same team working towards the same goal. In my roles as an early preschool teacher, mom and older sister, I’ve picked up lots of tips and strategies on how to successfully potty train your little monster.
Look for signs that the child is giving off
I look to see if they’re constantly staying dry throughout the day, if they’re eager to sit on the potty like their friends, if they tell when they need to go potty and if they can pull down their pants and underwear on their own. The last two points are the most important to me, because if they don’t register when they’re going potty and still wait for you to check their diaper, then they aren’t ready to be potty trained. And if they can’t pull their bottom half down by themselves, that’ll create so much frustration in the bathroom because when they really have to go, they’ll just be stuck there in their pants and will most likely have an accident.
When you decide to potty train, you need to come up with a decisive plan
Everyone in your household needs to be on board with this, your child’s teacher (and anyone that might be watching your child) should also be in the loop. You’ll need to go and buy a lot (and I mean a lot) of underwear, spare clothes and specifically night-time diapers. The industry has convinced everyone that pull-ups are this magical concept that will change your life…well in fact they are made of the same material as common diapers and will feel no different to your child, which is why I recommend cutting out diapers completely and purely doing a made for night diaper and nothing else.
Cutting out the diaper at nap can be relatively easy. Train at home without a diaper and make sure at school they aren’t wearing one and always have them go pee right up until nap time and immediately when they wake up. Night-time diapers can be worn, but be sure to put underwear over them so that your child still gets the visual of knowing that they shouldn’t pee in the diaper even at bedtime. Once they’re consistently dry through the whole night, take it off and you officially have a potty trained kid!
Once the diapers are gone and it’s underwear all of the time, it is your job to become the most vigilant parent and learn your child’s cues for when to go potty so that you can also teach them when it is time to go. A lot of people think you should make a child sit every 30-ish minutes but this in fact isn’t teaching your child to hold their bladder and it isn’t training their tiny bladder to hold their pee, so you actually want to have your child go every hour, right before nap, right after nap, right before bed and right when they wake up.
As they become more and more comfortable, you can create a longer time frame and then eventually they’ll be able to prompt themselves and you’ll just have to worry about the sleeping aspect of it. Now going number two is probably one of the biggest challenges anyone faces, and honestly for most kids it takes that one time of pooping their pants and realizing how gross and not fun it is and they’ll always make an attempt to go in the potty next time. And when they are successful with a number two trip, always make sure that their reward is something in twos so that they realize how important it is to do this in the potty.
Positivity is key
Remain positive when doing potty training and always follow through with rewards. Stickers/candy/prizes will always, always make it more special when they succeed. Praising is so key and always reminding them how special they are, how proud you are of these choices and how happy everyone else will be. A huge thing that more parents are doing now when a child has an accident, is we’re trying to get rid of the phrase “accidents happen” because this teaches the child that it is OK to pee in their pants and not the potty, so if they do have an accident you need to make it clear that you’re disappointed with their choice to do so and that you hope they choose to go in the potty next time.
It isn’t being negative, you’re just reinforcing where they’re supposed to put their pee and making sure they know to think about it next time. Another misconception is parents will put pottys all over the house so that they’re always encouraging kids to go when they need to, but in fact this isn’t teaching them that going pee means going to the actual bathroom and that they can go pee when and wherever they want, so if you have multiple pottys make sure that they are all in a bathroom and to show your child exactly where they are and you can even go to the bathroom at the same time as they do to make it more fun and to show them that that’s how everyone goes to the bathroom.
I am currently potty training 6+ kids in school and my own two-year-old at home, so I understand how exhausting it can be. Never give up because once you start down this path, there’s no stopping and only positive things can come of it!
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