This can be one of the smoothest or one of the most difficult times in toddler training. It may be dreaded or terrific. It can be a joyful time or it can be one of the largest battles of wills that may occur between you and your child in the next few months. But whichever way it goes, it has to get done, eventually.
Potty training is a huge decision, mostly because of timing. If you feel pressured to get it done, it may not go as smoothly as if you have a bit more generous amounts of time. But with the prices of diapers, the desire to go more green and not fill the land up with disposables, or even if you are using cloth, not to have to run the machine so much, you have decided to give this a try. Maybe you just need to get your child potty trained before the upcoming holidays.
Whatever your reasons, make sure you have the time and patience to dedicate to seeing the job through. Consistency makes the task so much more successful than a little bit here and a little bit there.
There are some things to consider before you get started in the job of potty training. First, after making sure you have the time, try to make sure your child is ready. Have they been seeing other kids going and showing interest, are they “helping” you with their own care or that of a younger sibling? Does their diaper stay dry for more than two hours? Are they able to follow basic instructions? These are all indicators that they may be ready.
Now consider how many people will be helping with this? Will it just be Mom, or Mom and Dad, or day care workers, sitters, in laws, and etc.? If so, then one of you needs to establish how this is going to be done and make a list of how you would like it to be followed out and have the sheet nearby for all who may be assisting.
Next, establish a central bathroom with a nice potty chair of your choice. There are a few out there and some are easier to use and clean up after than some of the fancy, showy models. But best to make sure it is safe, that is why a chair is recommended over teaching them to climb up to the toilet and use a ring.
This may be a good time to purchase a couple of board books on the topic and start reading them to your toddler. Then see if they want to do what “so and so” in the book is doing. Read these for a few days before you try anything. A couple of suggestions are “I Can Go Potty” with Kermit the Frog and “Prudence and Her Potty”. Kermit is a nice book that goes through all the steps, from the urgency feeling all the way to cleaning up and washing hands. Prudence is a bit prudish, but is excellent in the details and repetition that some toddlers respond to.
Be prepared to make a bit of a game out of this. Have a box with books sitting next to the potty, so you can encourage your toddler to sit and wait on the potty for the “action to start” and not get bored and give up and walk off.
Dress your child in easy to remove clothes or if your house or the weather is warm enough, you can even let your child run around with just the diaper on, so it is easier to check.
Discuss with your child in very exciting terms what you are going to be doing and how much more comfortable they will feel without the wet, soggy diaper on them. Be watchful for signs that your child is starting to urinate or plop and say something to them in the middle of the “flow”. This sounds strange, but it helps them start to recognize the sensation.
Sometimes these dry-wick away diapers are not helpful in potty training, because they pull the wet away so quickly, and the wet, uncomfortable sensation is gone. If you are using disposable diapers, you may want to consider cloth for just this time, so your toddler gets the gushy feeling and wants to potty train instead.
Lastly in the prep for potty training, you may want to have stickers readily available to give your child every time they succeed at going potty, and give them extra praise when you notice that they are making an effort even if they don’t make it in time.
Some people use a gum ball machine and give a penny to put in every time they succeed, but the dentists don’t look too highly upon this method, same with M&M’s but many parents do this anyway, as a reinforcement to getting the job accomplished. Either way, have some sort of reward system. And most of all, don’t get angry, and have an abundance of patience. You will see great strides and a few sets backs, but don’t give up.