When you first have a baby, changing diapers is strangly part of the sweet experience of having a tiny newborn. As the months, and years, pass... the experience morphs into a job. Then it changes into a job that you cannot wait to quit.
I am in your shoes. I have a two year old, and I am done - DONE - changing diapers. Not just changing diapers, but buying diapers. Thankfully, this isn't my first rodeo. With my little man being #3 toddler to go through potty training with, I've learned a few basic skills that do work. I've also learned a few things that definitely do not work. Oh boy.. have I.
Potty Training Tip #1: Wait Until They're Ready
In my personal experiences, this is the hardest step to follow. When you hear of so-and-so's toddler being out of diapers at age 1.5, it can make you look at your kid and think,
"Well, if SHE can potty, YOU can too!"
Surprise! Not the case. Each child is completely different. Children within the same family will likely potty train at different ages, and each will probably take different lengths of time to be totally out of diapers.
General ages of potty training readiness can vary greatly - anywhere from 18 months up to 3 years old for beginners. I know.. you're freaking out at the 3 years old age. Just know that it is true for many children. Three is a very common age for kids, especially boys, to potty train. If you can accept the fact that you can't make your child ready to potty train any earlier than he or she will naturally be able, then you will save you and your child mucho stress.
*How Will I Know When my Child is Ready to Potty Train?
There are several things to watch for to determine if your child is ready to begin potty training:
- Able to stay dry for long periods of time - typically 1-2 hours.
- Wakes up dry from naps
- Asks for diaper to be changed
- Understands typical 'potty' words and uses them
- Interested in using the potty
- Able to pull own pants up and down
- Becomes increasingly unhappy with soiled or wet diapers
Potty Training Tip #2: Encourage - Avoid Scolding
Shouting "hooray!" and having a party everytime your tot goes potty will go a long way in potty training success. Scolding for accidents can immediately negatively hinder any progress. When pressure is put on a toddler to do anything, especially potty train, it can create defiance or simply stress about the experience. Making it one of no stress and lots of praise is proven to be the best approach.
Personally, I've done sticker charts for going potty and even bribed with M&M's... one for pee, two for poop. It has always worked for me... but again, only when the child is READY.
Potty Training Tip #3: Know When to Call it Quits With Pull-Ups
Some toddlers think of training pants as underwear and are afraid to use the bathroom in them. My children, however, always knew they were just fancy diapers. No matter how I tried to convince them that they were just like their other pairs of underwear, they knew better. If you have a child like mine, and are feeling brave, then bite the bullet. Toss the training pants and stick with real underwear.
Potty Training Tip #4: Know When to Call it Quits
I'm not sure which tip is harder, this one or the first one.
Many times toddler will do GREAT potty training for many, many months only to later regress. They'll stop making it to the potty in time, or they'll simply not even get up to go potty anymore. How frustrating. I have also lived this. This is where it became hard for me to not scold for accidents.
"But, you KNOW how to go potty! Why didn't you go?!"
As hard as it is, when this happens, the best method is often to stick them back in diapers or pull ups. Yes, I know, it feels awful. You think if you go back they'll always be in diapers.
Remember how we talked about no stress? Here you go. Just allow the regression phase to come and go without ruining your carpet and furniture. I promise that you can start again soon and they'll likely take up with it easily and this time, they'll really have it.
Potty training can be incredibly simple or incredibly stressful. It all depends on each child and each parent. Put the ball in their court (because it really already is anyway) and you might be surprised that one day, without you freaking out about it, your toddler will magically be potty trained. No wand required.