April 20, 2012

Signs your little one might be ready to potty train and tips for less stress!

If you're stressing out about potty training, you don't have to. There are some simple tips that will help you and your little one go stress-free! Read my thoughts on stress-free potty-training below.

1.  Wait until your child is ready – don’t force them into it. Signs that your child may be ready for potty training are the following (and no your child does not need to exhibit all of the signs, at least a few of them) :

  • Staying dry during and after a nap and is able to wake up dry after the night 
  • Taking cloth diaper off when it’s wet or dirty 
  • Telling you that he/she are peeing or pooping 
  • Has good verbal skills and cognitive understanding; they really need to be able to communicate to you that they need to go as well as be able to understand simple instructions 
  • Attention span is at least five minutes 
  • Can get dressed and undressed particularly undressed alone 
2.  Understand that potty training is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. While this might not be the case with every child, some may “get” potty training in less than a day, it’s better to have the mentality that it might take a longer time than what you want. That doesn’t mean your child isn’t ready nor does it mean they are never going to get it. Sometimes it really is two steps forward and then one step back before its full proof.

3.  Timing really is everything. Look at your calendar. What events do you have coming up in the next month? Is there a new baby on the way? Are you moving houses? Changing daycares? Kids need and like routines and potty training is a major change in the routine. If you have a major change occurring that’s going to rock their little world maybe postpone potty training. It’s frustrating enough to disrupt the routine with some kids don’t add to your stress level or your child’s by adding yet another change.

4.  Figure out what matters to your child and use it as a reward. Punishing or shaming your child into going potty will not EVER work. Let me say that again – Punishing or shaming your child into going potty will not EVER work. Okay that we’ve got that out of the way, figure out what your child cares about. Does he like to see his progress by putting stickers on a potty poster? Does he like little toys he can put his hands on when he does it right? Does she love chocolate and would be motivated by the promise of one M&M if she goes in her potty? Be willing to really study and look at your child to figure out what makes them excited and then use that to work with them.

5.  Once you’re in potty training mode, stay in and never look back! You really need to commit to it, especially if your child is acting like she’s interested and ready. There will be accidents and it might take a few days before she recognizes that she has to go and makes it to the potty in time. Don’t give up. Stay on the course and never return to diapers again during the day.

6.  Understand that for some kids, even though they may be ready they might still have accidents at night; this is not their fault nor are they trying to act out against you. Studies have shown that there is a hormone that must be present in children in order for them to not wet the bed at night. Some children do not have this hormone present until they’ve matured a little more. It’s a biological thing and nothing they can do to prevent it from happening. Be careful with their little hearts and remember that they’re more frustrated and embarrassed about wetting the bed than you are.

Elizabeth (aka Bert) is a stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for She Thinks Media. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Ben, her son Buggie, and daughter Lady Bug.  When she's not trying to convince Buggie to expand his interests beyond Thomas the Train or put his pants back on she's writing about her experiences as a mom on her blog, First Time Mom (FTM). After all, Bert maintains there's a first time for everything, even if you  have more than one child!