How to Potty Train Your Toddler: Tips & Tricks for Potty Training - Paper Pinecone Blog

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How to Potty Train Your Toddler: Tips & Tricks for Potty Training

Published Date: 02/27/20

Congratulations! If you are reading this article then chances are you have already decided your little one is ready to start potty training, right? And so far it's been going pretty well—maybe your child is usually staying dry during nap time or you’re changing fewer diapers lately. But, keep your expectations well intact because you'll need loads and loads of patience to reach the potty training finish line.

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Undoubtedly, potty training can be a daunting task for parents and we won't sugar coat it for you! It isn't always smooth sailing for kids to use the toilet for the first time. However, there are some tips and tricks that you can follow to make the experience much easier.

Is your child really ready?
You might be keen on saying goodbye to diapers forever, but potty training is not just about your ease and readiness as a parent. So, our first piece of advice is to let go of any self-imposed or societal pressures and ask yourself this question - is your child really ready to be potty trained or not? You must remember and embrace the fact that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to potty training because every child is widely different from the next. Instead of using age as a factor, look for the following signs that your child may be ready to start heading for the potty:

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•    Can follow simply given instructions
•    Hides in lonely places when having the urge to pee or poop
•    Bowel movements become more regular
•    Understands and uses words about using the toilet
•    Keeps a diaper dry for 2 hours or more
•    Notices stinky diapers and is ready to use the potty instead
•    Gets to the potty seat, sits on it for enough time, and then gets off it

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On your mark, get set, go!
Now that your child's exhibiting all the signs that potty training systems are ready, let's dive into the following tips to make a smooth transition for active toilet-training phase:

Being Patient:
Remember William Langland's proverb, "Patience is a virtue"? Well, don’t get frustrated if things are taking a long time. It’s going to be okay. As difficult as it might be, you must steer clear of any negativity, scolding or shaming your child throughout the potty training journey. It could be a difficult process, but you must remain calm, patient and encouraging even when there is poop smeared on your floors. Always choose the path of patience and we promise, eventually everything will click, and one day you’ll find yourself with a fully potty trained child.

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Turn Potty Time into Fun time:
Boost the fun factor of using the potty with sticker charts. It's always a great way to motivate kids. You can start by giving stickers each time your child goes potty, and as they get more consistent, switch to giving stickers for each day he/she managed to stay dry. After a certain number of stickers, celebrate together as a treat.

Keep in mind:
Sticker charts aren’t good long-term motivators. They might work in the short-term as an extrinsic reward, but children (and all people) need intrinsic motivation. If potty training takes longer than expected, you’ll probably find that stickers stop working after the novelty wears off.

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Focusing on the Bribes:
We all know that it's basic human nature to seek a prize for a job well done. That's why giving small bribes are known as one of the most common methods for potty training. You can promise that each time your kid goes potty; they'll get a few M&Ms or small stickers as a reward for their effort. It can highly motivate them in the long run. Just be sure to reward them only after they’ve done the deed.

Keep in mind:
Some experts say that bribes aren’t a good approach. Bribes may have to get bigger and better and may stop working altogether. You also have to wean your child off a bribe – you can’t give them one every time they use the toilet forever.

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The 3-Day Method
Some parents swear by the three-day method for potty training. In this approach, you stay home for three full days and keep your child bottomless the entire time. This may be best done over a snowy winter weekend or during the rainy spring. Be prepared by planning lots of activities to keep your toddler entertained. Check out these great art projects to do with toddlers and preschoolers for ideas.

Keep in mind:
Not all children respond well to being kept inside for three full days. Not all parents do either. You might find that day one goes great and day two or three your toddler refuses to use the potty, your time has been wasted, and you’ve created a potty power struggle.

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Potty Outside of the Bathroom
If you purchase a small potty for your toddler to use, you may decide to keep it in your living room or playroom. This gives a child easy access to the potty when he or she has to go. When potty training, you may find that your child doesn’t always make it to the toilet in time as they learn their body signals. Keeping a potty nearby can help with the inevitable mess that comes along with potty training.

Keep in mind:
Some experts believe you shouldn’t have a potty outside of the bathroom because it doesn’t teach children that the bathroom is the dedicated spot to use the toilet. Parents may feel that this is unsanitary.

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The Long Game
Potty training can take time and doing it gradually may be a great method for you. You may start by going bottomless at home but still use a diaper for excursions outside of your house. You can graduate to underwear at home while still using diapers when you leave. Eventually, you’ll use underwear for short trips out, gradually increasing the duration of those trips until it’s undies all of the time. You might find that your child decides he or she is ready for undies full-time and asks to ditch the diapers.

Keep in mind:
This method may take several months. It’s the most intuitive method and frequently the gentlest, but not the fastest.

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Timing is everything:
Timing is the main essence of potty training. When you notice signs such as squirming, squatting or holding the genital area, it means your child has the urge to use the toilet. Help your child become familiar with these signals and respond quickly. You can also schedule potty breaks for your tot. Make your child sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes at two-hour intervals, as well as first thing in the morning and right after naps. It will help them maintain a certain routine.

For many children there’s a window of time before age two when they begin showing interest in the potty. It may be short-lived if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. If you don’t potty train the second your child shows interest, don’t stress. That window is of course not closed forever.

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Ditch Diapers:
When you’ve deemed your kid ready to start potty training, put him or her in training pants or underwear straight away. Why you may ask? It's because they'll try to avoid the icky, sticky feeling of being wet at all costs. That's why you should not underestimate the power of underwear.

Must Haves for potty training:
You may not need everything at once, but it’s a good idea to get the basics so you’re prepared for whatever pace the process takes. To prepare for potty training, you need to stock up on the following must-have items.

•    Potty Chair
•    Seat Reducer
•    A step stool
•    Toilet Paper/Flushable Wipes
•    Kid-Friendly Hand Soap
•    Training Underpants
•    Progress Chart

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Nighttime training: What to expect?
Keep in mind that day training and nighttime potty training are two separate processes and require two separate stages of physical development. The night training typically takes longer to achieve because most kids can stay dry at night between ages 5 and 7. Nighttime potty training requires your child's brain and bladder to communicate in a mature way, and as with all milestones, some children reach that stage faster than others. The also need to produce enough melatonin to quickly fall back asleep after they do get up to use the bathroom - not something you can force. In the meantime, you can take necessary precautions like using disposable training pants and mattress covers when your child sleeps or make them go to the bathroom right before hopping into bed at night even if they say they don’t have to go.

When to seek help?
If your child seems ready for potty training but is having difficulties, talk to your child's doctor. Some symptoms could indicate an underlying issue which your pediatrician can help with. But the most common conditions that they see in children of potty-training age are constipation and bladder infections.

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Bottom Line:
Remember, potty training is a huge milestone for your kid and it doesn't come easily or without bumps! While the possibility of ditching the diapers is exciting, getting there can try your parenting patience, lots and lots and lots of patience. But, rest assured that sooner or later your little one will get the hang of it and outgrow diapers.

Every child is different and will respond to different methods. What worked for your best friend may not work for you. You know your child best and you know what they respond to.

Good luck reaching the potty training finish line!

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