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The Mamí Chronicles: Potty Training Your Toddler

Potty training has to be one of the most stressful tasks for both toddler and parent. If you’re new to this like I am then you know how difficult it can be to have your child transition from the comfort and security of a diaper to the potty. Though your friends and family may share with you what has worked for them know that there’s no single, guaranteed method for success in potty training. You’ve have to choose your strategy based on the kind of kid your child is, and the kind of parent you are, too. However, there’s nothing wrong with taking their advice until you find what works for both you and your little one.

I recently started to potty train my soon to be 3 year old because she exhibited all the signs that she was ready. Experts cite the following signs as indicators that your child may be ready for the potty:

  • Stays dry for at least two hours.

  • Is dry after a nap.

  • Is uncomfortable in soiled diapers.

  • Shows increased interest in the bathroom.

  • Asks to use the toilet or potty chair.

  • Has regular and predictable bowel movements.

  • Asks to wear Big Kid or “grown up” underwear.

  • Uses words or body language when he or she needs to go.

  • Follows simple verbal directions.

  • Walks to and from the bathroom, helps undress his/herself.

I knew that my daughter was ready when she was able to verbalize when she had gone in her diaper, she would tell me to change her when she was done, and when she had to poop she would sneak off to a corner in my dining room and tell me that she was doing her business.

As parents we know our children and I knew that my daughter was ready. With that said, just because they are physically ready to start using the potty on their own does not necessarily mean that they may be mentally and emotionally ready. This is when the parent has to take things into his/her own hands and help their child through the transition.

This upcoming Saturday will be two weeks since I started potty training my daughter. The first couple of days were really rough for both us. She’d cry every time I put her on the potty and she’d hold her urine all day as a sign of defiance until she couldn’t hold it anymore, which resulted in a few accidents in the beginning.

Each time I sat her on the potty and she’d cry, I’d try my best to comfort her and assure her that this was perfectly normal. I told her that she was now a big girl and that big girls didn’t wear diapers. On the occasions when she’d have an accident I wouldn’t scream or embarrass her. Instead, I’d reassure her that it was ok. Told her that accidents happen, but that next time she’d have to tell me when she had to go because if not she’d end up wetting herself and clothes.

Little by little the accidents became less frequent and every time she successfully went in the potty my husband and I would praise her, tell her how proud we were of her, and let her put a sticker on her “potty chart”. The potty chart worked wonders with her because it gave her something to strive for. She knew that whenever she went in the potty she’d be able to put any sticker of her choosing on her personal potty chart. It was exciting for her and gave her something tangible to look at for accomplishment.

Now, I’m not saying that the potty chart works for every child, but it definitely is something to consider if you’ve tried everything and nothing else has worked. If it doesn’t work for your child then maybe rewarding them with a treat or giving them another incentive will work.

There are many methods offered by experts when it comes to potty training. Some suggest having your little one run around the house completely naked or with t-shirt. The idea is that since they do not have the security of a diaper they have no place to put their pee or poop and will go in the potty instead. This method will result in a few accidents at first, but after enough accidents your little one will hopefully begin to understand that in order to avoid wetting themselves they have to go in the potty.

Another suggestion for potty training is to set a timer for every 20-30 minutes and when the timer goes off sit with your little one on the potty to see if they have to go. Getting them accustomed and familiar with the potty can help ease any anxiety they may be feeling. Other suggestions include reading books or watching videos with your little ones about going to the potty. Sometimes seeing their favorite character using the potty can make it less scarier for them.

Every child gets potty trained eventually, so don’t stress yourself too much. The key is to have patience and be consistent. Toilet training is a developmental process. Children’s bodies and brains are developing all the time, and each new phase sets the foundation for those to come. No amount of teaching can make those developments happen before their time. You’ll have an easier, happy time of it if you wait until you’re sure your child is ready. But once you take the diapers away don’t go back to them. You’ll only end up confusing the child and prolonging the process.

With a positive outlook and a little creativity, potty training really can be more about quality time. Find ways to encourage your child’s interest. Play up the fun with activities like decorating the potty chair, picking out rewards or creating a special potty progress chart together.

And don’t forget to load on the praise and rewards right from the start. Bragging rights and the expectation of applause are strong motivators to your child. So find those moments to celebrate and share them with everyone in your child’s cheering section.

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