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5 Tips for Potty Training

Potty training can be stressful for parents and children alike. Your toddler might be nervous to use the toilet, and you might be feeling overwhelmed. However, there’s a lot you can do to make the potty training process easier on your child and yourself.

1. Begin When Your Child is Ready

Potty training is only appropriate when a child is emotionally and physically ready to begin. Otherwise, the process can be long and arduous. Most kids are ready to start training between the ages of 20 and 30 months, but readiness ultimately depends on a child’s unique personality and circumstances. Each child is different, so it’s important to look for signs of readiness before starting potty training. Common signs for readiness include:

  • Asking to have diapers changed
  • Being able to follow simple directions
  • Holding tightly onto diapers
  • Touching genitals
  • Clutching fists
  • Starting regular bowel movements (usually around 18 months)
  • Having bowel movements during the day, rather than at night
  • Developing tidy behaviors
  • Expressing a need to go to the bathroom

Also note that boys usually start later and take longer than girls.

2. Watch for Resistance

If your child is putting up too much resistance, it’s a sign she is either unprepared for potty training or needs more time to adjust. Common signs of resistance include:

  • Crying or wailing while sitting on the potty, or even while standing beside it
  • Verbally refusing to use the potty
  • Wetting the floor in front of the potty
  • Being content with diapers and preferring to sit in a soiled diaper

Of course, you’ll have to convince your child somehow to use the potty, even if they don’t want to. But how?

3. Walk Your Child Through It

Reassure your child by constantly talking through everything with him. The more you talk, the more your child will feel that you are on his side. It’s a good idea to begin with the toilet itself; you can explain how it works, lift the seat and, if using a regular toilet with potty seat, demonstrate how to flush. Talk about how big boys and girls get to use the potty, how fun it will be and how they won’t have to use diapers anymore. Try to keep your conversations positive and enthusiastic.

4. Pick the Right Potty

There are two basic types of potties: the chair and the seat. The potty chair is small enough to fit a child easily and stands on the floor. Waste collects in a bowl, requiring removal and cleaning after every use. The potty seat is attached to a regular toilet, and your child will need a step–stool to climb onto it. So, which to choose? Climbing all the way up to the potty seat can be scary for kids, but it doesn’t require cleaning after every use. The potty chair is easily portable and less frightening, but requires regular cleaning. It could be a good idea to let your child try both and decide which to use.

5. Keep in Touch with your Doctor

Keep an open dialogue open with your pediatrician, especially if you have concerns. If your child is over 3 years old and still isn’t potty trained, or if she continues soiling her underwear until age 4 or 5, then you will likely need some extra help. It’s not uncommon, however, for children to regress occasionally even after they are potty trained. Stay positive, be persistent and remember that your doctor is there to help.

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