My younger son seems to be well on his way to being potty trained! He does great when we are home, & we are working on being able to be out & about & distracted now too :-p
Between potty training him & my older son, I feel like I have a few pointers for fellow moms that are trying to potty train their little ones. And all of my methods follow a natural, gentle, simple potty training approach that does not include rewards or punishments.
Don’t potty train in the middle of a busy week. Try to pick a time where you can stay home & really focus on potty training for a full week. You don’t have to stay home at all times, but try to minimize the time out & about to increase the chances of success.
One Thing at a Time
Don’t get overzealous. My potty training methods are all about keeping things simple. No places to go, no pants to pull down, no flushing, no hand washing (you can use hand sanitizer though). Let your child focus on the hardest part of potty training – listening to their body; and then you can build skills from there.
The Potty Matters
Not all potties are created equal. And this is especially true for boys! I learned this the hard way after my initial potty purchase, and immediately set out to find a better one. Some potties have bowls that are too tiny, some have lids that shut accidentally while your child is sitting there, some play songs that scare kids (while others like the songs).
The potty that ended up being perfect for my boys is this dinosaur one. I don’t know if they sell it anymore, anywhere; but I’ll tell you what I love about it
- The child gets to pretend they are riding a dinosaur!
- It has a huge splash guard up front, which is a must-have for little boys.
- The front part acts like a little handle, which makes the child feel more secure.
Let your child run around naked. The fewer steps that they need to take to go potty, the better. In the beginning stages of potty training, my boys never told me that they needed to go. They just ran over & sat down. Eventually we introduce pants & then underwear under the pants; but since that introduces an extra step of having to take them off, we skip that in the beginning. Being naked also helps get your child in touch with their body, the physical sensations, & the results of those sensations. They will learn quickly!
Since your kiddo is running around naked, it might be best to try to plan a lot of activities in the kitchen (where you have a floor that is easy to clean). Play Doh, books, racing cars, sensory boxes, puzzles, etc – anything can be played in the kitchen.
Little ones do not want to have to stop playing & sit still. Make going potty a fun experience – especially if they’re working on number two. Have books to read, stickers to put on their hands, or a tablet to watch a video on. Some children love having company while they sit there, while others want to be left alone – you know your child best.
Right Amount of Praise
Again, you know your child best… some kiddos love being the center of attention while others prefer to go unnoticed. I tend to tell my kids how proud I am of them, give them a high five, & then we move on. A more matter of fact approach seems to work for them since going potty is a potentially embarrassing thing already.
Plenty of Liquids
You can get some favorite juices for your child to guzzle down to make sure that you get plenty of potty practice in the beginning. Just be sure not to give them so much that they are having to pee every five minutes & getting frustrated with it.
Many people advise that you set timers or try going potty on a set schedule, & that might work for some kids. But my boys love to independent & reminding them to go potty all the time would frustrate them & lead to defiance. Instead I potty train at a time where I trust that they can understand the physical sensations of needing to go to the potty, and I trust that they will try to get there.
Of course, if I see them doing the pee-pee dance I will remind them to go. Or if it has been a while, & we are transitioning activities, I will give a small direction like, “Go potty first, then we will get out Play Doh.” Also, if your child does have an accident, don’t make it a huge deal. Give a calm reminder that pee & poop go in the potty, & then clean things up calmly.
Transitioning to Clothes
Many people are quick to stick their kiddos in underwear during potty training, but I have found that this does not help the process. Since we do naked potty training, I transition slowly to underwear by letting my boys wear pants without anything underneath. I have found that even underwear in the early stages can feel too similar to a diaper & end up causes accidents.
Eventually you will have to go out & about, & this travel potty has been a lifesaver for us! It folds down easily & comes with disposable liners that are perfect for road trips, days at the park, or “emergencies.”
What it really comes down to is following your child’s lead. Listen to them, and let them listen to their own body. Potty training doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience; it can be a chance to connect & be proud of your child for learning a new skill!