Potty Training

Potty training tips: How to help your child feel comfortable with the potty

Many parents dread potty training. Although some kids adapt quickly, many children are intimidated or shy about learning to use a toilet. In order to help your child learn to use the potty, you need to stand firm in your commitment to teach them. Pick a time when you are able to give them your undivided attention and focus. Holidays, relatives' visits and vacations are not the ideal time to start potty training.

Talk to your child about why it's important to start potty training. Although kids are young, it is still important to communicate with them. If you explain that potty training means having no more diaper rashes, getting to wear big-kid underwear, getting to stay dry and no longer having to interrupt play time for diaper changes, the child may be willing to learn.

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Ask your child often if they need to go potty. Remind them that when they have to go, they just have to walk to the potty and relieve themselves. Avoid using derogatory terms like stinky or dirty to describe using the bathroom. This will only make your child feel self-conscious.

If your child responds well to visual stimulation, consider getting a video or book to help explain the mechanics of the potty. Use a doll to show how to sit on the toilet. Don't be ashamed to allow your children in the bathroom as you or your spouse uses the toilet. Teaching them that going to the bathroom isn't shameful will help ease them into using the potty.

If your child is feeling nervous about using the toilet, don't force them right away. Make them choose a day when they will start using the big-girl or big-boy potty. Mark it on the calendar, and remind them often of when "Potty Day" starts. Preparing them in advance allows them to ease into the transition.

Be patient with your child, and do not reprimand them for having accidents. To keep them from going in their diaper, make frequent trips to the bathroom every few hours. Even if your child does not urinate or have a bowel movement, practicing the routine is good for your child. If your child is shy, respect their privacy. Leave the door open, but leave the room so they are more comfortable.

Make sure you buy a potty seat that is comfortable. If you are using a moveable seat, bring the potty into whichever room you are in. You can relocate it to the bathroom once your child gets more comfortable with telling you when they need to relive themselves. If you are using a seat that goes over the toilet, make sure that it fits comfortably and won't jiggle around as your child is atop it.

To avoid accidents at night, make sure your child visits the bathroom "one more time" before the lights go out. Many parents use training pants. Experts are divided on whether this sends mixed messages or not. Trust your gut, and do what you think is right for your child.

By Molly Carter