Toilet training--it's a milestone every mom looks forward to. No more diapers, no more messy accidents. But sometimes the toilet training process doesn't proceed as smoothly as you'd like, leaving you disappointed, frustrated, and with months' worth of dirty diapers to change.
For those preparing to embark on the toilet training adventure, here are some simple hints and strategies to help make the process smoother for you and your toddler.
Look for Signs Your Child Is Ready
The most important thing to consider before embarking on toilet training is whether your child is ready. More than any specific toilet training approach or strategy, your child's readiness will be the deciding factor for success.
Sometimes it's difficult to determine if a child is ready, mostly because toddlers of this age haven't mastered a wide range of communication skills. However, there are some things you can look for that might indicate your child is ready to start learning to use the toilet. You can start thinking about potty training when your child:
- Begins to experience long dry spells, of up to three to four hours
- Can understand simple commands
- Shows visible signs when she is about to eliminate, such as grunting or even hiding
- Shows signs he is aware of a change when he has filled his diaper, such as removing wet or soiled diapers or even telling you he is dirty
You should be sure you're ready, too--toilet training is a cooperative venture, and you'll need to be in the right frame of mind to stick with it for several weeks. If a new baby is about to enter the family, you might want to wait, since you'll be preoccupied. In addition, if your toddler is going through a stubborn phase, it might be best to wait until she's more amiable.
Make it Fun
Kids don't respond well to learning new things when they feel pressured. Pushing your child too hard or shaming him when he has an accident or doesn't show as strong an interest as you'd like won't help your cause. A better approach is to make toilet training a game.
Some ways to up the entertainment value of toilet training for your toddler include:
- Provide rewards. The requirements for a prize can be extended as your child starts to get the hang of it--for example, go from a day dry to two or three days dry, then to a whole week. As the requirements become more stringent, provide better prizes to maintain interest.
- For boys, provide "target practice" in the potty to help improve his aim. Small pieces of toilet paper, Cheerios, or flushable targets made specifically for this purpose can add a fun element to using the potty.
- Kids like to do what their parents do, so try taking your child with you whenever you go. Try to go more frequently than usual, though. Think of it as a chance to encourage proper hydration!
In the long run, not all kids will respond to the same types of encouragement, and not all kids will be developmentally ready at the same age. So be prepared to adjust your approach to fit your child's needs and personality, and above all, be patient.