So my little one has bade farewell to diapers before she turned two and a half years old. Yes, she doesn't need to wear them anymore not just in the day, but through the night too. Hooray!! I have to frankly admit that I can't take all the credit for her achievement because even though I did start to potty train her at two years old, it was her own initiative and enthusiasm to move on that brought us to where we are today.
Unlike the big sister who was totally off diapers at the age of four, this girl was ready to move on much sooner than I expected and shortly after she put on her big girl panties, she didn't like to pee in the potty but chose to do it like us in the toilet bowl with the help of her potty seat. When bedtime came, she would say that she didn't want to wear her diapers and proved to us that she could do it by lasting through many nights with a completely dry diaper.
I know, lucky me, right? I don't even need to set an alarm to wake her up in the middle of the night so as to bring her to the toilet. If she really wants to, she will wake me up instead and usually, it's at most just once a night. I do have to deal with wet bedsheets and blankets but that's really once in a blue moon and I still count my blessings that we can now save up on costly diapers. That is, until the next baby comes along. Today, I'm sharing with you 10 potty training tips which might come in handy for your little one next time.
1) Go naked
I don't mean totally naked, just the bottom half. To start things off, let your child wear a top only when you are in the house. Since there's no diaper or underwear, the child will know that there is nothing to hold the pee or poo and he/she must find a way to put it somewhere. Let him/her know that the toilet or the potty might be a great place to do just that. Note that the young ones can get a little anxious the first time pee comes out, so try to be more sensitive and caring in order to calm them down.
2) Place potty in a prominent place
If you are using a potty to train your child, make sure it is placed in a spot where it is easily seen and very much accessible. For me, I like to put it in the middle of my living room where my toddler can get to it as soon as possible whenever the urge comes. If you are training your child to go to the toilet, show how he/she can make his/her way there and make sure the potty seat is easily within reach. Even if you might still need to lift the child up and down the toilet bowl, it is always good to let him/her play a part and this can be done by allowing the child to place the potty seat, pull the toilet paper and flush etc. Always practise good hygiene habits by reminding them to wash their hands after every visit too.
3) Find ways to distract
Most children, especially if they are lively toddlers, will refuse to sit on the toilet bowl or potty especially in the early part of the training. While we might like for them to sit down for a few minutes after every meal just to try, it is easier said than done and getting them to stop squirming or running off can be a real challenge. Try to come up with ways to distract them in the process, for instance I like to read books or sing songs to them so that they can stay in the position for at least a good few minutes, which greatly increases the chances of success in getting them to pee or even poo.
4) Be creative with rewards
Children need to be encouraged and whenever they do a good job, don't be stingy with the rewards. These do not have to be expensive or difficult to implement, for instance you can give stickers, stamps or healthy snacks after every successful attempt and give bigger incentives such as a trip to the beach or doing a piece of art to celebrate the end of a week without leaks or wet sheets.
5) Praise generously
Same as in giving rewards, praise your child generously and not just when he/she succeeds, but for every little improvement or good effort put in too. For instance, if you can see that the child is trying his/her best to reach the potty in time and even if it fails, tell him you are proud of him/her for being willing to try and encourage him/her to do even better time after time.
6) Allow mistakes to happen
Nobody likes to wipe pee from the floor several times a day, right? However, this would be inevitable in the first couple of days and the hardest part is trying to keep your cool about it. Moreover, it's not really funny if your child pees on the floor and then stumbles over it. Well, the only thing we can do is to endure and persist, while holding our tongues and not lashing out when leaks occur. The good news is it does get better with time and usually in just days!
7) Set an example
As parents, we need to be the role models so in this case, we have to show them how it's done - from going to the toilet, finishing the 'business', wiping clean, flushing, washing hands and so on. I hope it's not just me when I say that my toddler follows me every time I enter the toilet or go for a shower. Moreover, since the younger one has a older sibling to look up to and tries to mimic, I think that is partly why the second child usually gets trained much faster.
8) Limit drinks before bedtime
The intake of fluids after dinner plays a pivotal role in determining whether the child can last through the night without needing to pee. If possible, make sure that no drinks are taken during the last hour before bedtime. I know that this can be truly difficult especially if your child is used to taking milk before he/she sleeps, like mine. So if you are not willing to compromise on that, then do understand that night training takes longer so don't expect results too soon, particularly if you find it hard to wake up regularly in the wee hours to bring your child to the toilet.
9) Read potty training books
Borrow related books from the library that can be fun to read and provide helpful illustrations on potty training. It would also be good to have one such book in the house, for instance the girls love Dora and we have this Dora's Potty Book that not only encourages the child to use the potty seat, it also has this cute button which you can press to hear the flushing sound.
10) Take the cue from your child
Most importantly, never force things to happen but instead, allow your child to signal to you when he/she is ready to be toilet trained. This could be holding urine in his/her bladder and saying "Pee, pee" or just waking up in the mornings with a dry diaper. It doesn't make you a better mum to potty train your child by 18 months, similarly it doesn't make you any worse by training your child at the age of 5. It all depends on what works best for you and your child, and always remember that every child is different.
While potty training might not be the most enjoyable phase of our child's growing up, be reminded that it is all part and parcel so instead of suffering from frustration, let's try to keep our hearts happy, enjoy the process and relish the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.