Ten Top Tips for Potty Training
Once you’ve laid all the groundwork for successful potty training and have sure signs from your child that they are ready to begin this important rite of passage, you can get started. As mentioned in our article about choosing the right time to try potty training, it’s entirely up to you and your child when you begin.
Below we have compiled a list of ten top tips for successful potty training.
1. Decide whether you want a potty or a potty-training toilet seat
Either is fine, and what you choose will depend entirely on your situation and personal preference. For example, some children will prefer the idea of their very own potty, while others may like to sit on the “big loo” like mum and dad.
Similarly, some will like the portability and fun of a potty, which can go anywhere, including the garden, while others might find that this disrupts the opportunity for routine. Bear in mind – if you choose a potty training toilet seat, you will also need a footstool.
2. Create a potty training “buzz”
The key here is to create excitement but not pressure. Go to the shops or go online to find a potty or potty training toilet seat that you and your child like. Once it arrives, let your child familiarise themselves with it, and make sure they know it’s theirs. This will give your child some feeling of pride, confidence and ownership over the potty training process – this can only be good.
3. Let your child get comfortable
Let your child sit on the potty or potty training toilet seat a few times without the pressure of producing anything! This will help them get used to it and gives them an opportunity to practise pulling their pants up and down. Keep it short though – if the rehearsal is too long they may develop tension that later prevents them from performing!
4. Keep your child hydrated
Although some parents might give their child more to drink in order to encourage more frequent opportunities for potty stops, this is not necessary. As long as your child has 6-8 drinks of water-based fluid a day – not sugary drinks – this will help keep them hydrated and will ensure that there is plenty of cause for regular poos and wees.
5. Put your little one in comfortable clothing
Practical and comfortable clothing is essential to making potty training easier. This means that garments should be:
- Relatively loose fitting.
- Easy to pull up and down.
- Easy to wash and dry.
- Free of difficult zips, buttons and fasteners.
6. Develop a routine
It is a good idea for your little one to get used to using the potty first thing in the morning and last thing at night. During the day you should respond to your child’s non-verbal cues – such as holding their clothing or nappy, or doing their “funny toilet dance” – by asking if they need to use the potty. Aim to try every couple of hours; trying too often can pressure the child and disconnect them from acting on their own bodily cues.
7. Make the routine stick
Try to maintain the routine as much as is reasonable. This means that if your child is being looked after by anyone else – for example, a grandparent or nursery – you should let the caregiver know about your little one’s potty training routine in order to maintain consistency.
8. Praise is crucial
Children respond well to praise, particularly when it comes to potty training. Remember, what might seem like a tiny step to us may be a huge leap for a child. If your child uses the potty, washes their hands, gets dressed themselves or even just expresses a desire to go to the potty without actually producing the goods, these are all reasons for encouragement. Stickers and reward charts can help to make your child feel positive about the experience.
Conversely, if you get stressed, impatient or cross, this will prove counterproductive and may mean your child develops negative associations which may lead them to withhold their poos and wees.
9. Be ready to take stock and try again later
If, for whatever reason, potty training is proving too stressful, it is likely your little one is just not ready yet. If this is the case, be ready to postpone until they are a little older – there is no harm in it, and it is certainly better than carrying on regardless.
10. Know that night and day training are two different things
Daytime potty training is completely different to night-time potty training, so you should not be disheartened if your child still wakes up wet. It may be two or more years after successful daytime potty training before your child reliably wakes dry in the morning. In fact, as many as one in five five-year-olds will sometimes wet the bed.
Do boys and girls require different approaches to potty training?
Lastly, a word on this common question. Although the anatomy is different, potty training for boys and potty training for girls requires the same basic approach. Eventually, some parents may wish to train their sons to stand up to wee, but, it is probably easiest to begin by teaching both boys and girls to sit down when using the potty.
However, it’s a good idea to remember that boys may start later and take longer to potty train; this is because girls tend to mature a little faster than boys, both physiologically and linguistically. This means that girls are more likely to have both the bodily control needed to self-regulate their poos and wees and the linguistic tools necessary to comprehend the requirements of potty training earlier than most boys.
Keep calm and potty train
Potty training is just another of those hurdles that parents and carers have to negotiate as they bring up their children. It can be frustrating, but ultimately, unless there is a physical or developmental reason, your child will learn to use the toilet and nappies will be a thing of the past.