Potty Training Success Boosters

Although most kids look forward to being able to use the toilet on their own, they can easily get frustrated by the inevitable accidents. Navigating that gray area between diapers and underwear can be hard on you too.

Potty Training: 11 Rules to Succeed

Here are some tips that will help make potty training as easy as possible for everyone concerned.

Wait until your child is ready. Trying to potty train a child who's not ready can actually extend the process. Try and avoid starting training when there are other big changes in your child's life, such as illness, divorce, a death in the family (even of a pet), or moving to a new home.

Take it one step at a time. Potty training is a process that, for most children, involves several distinct steps that are learned one by one and over time. To get the process going, you may want to start by leaving a potty seat on the floor of the bathroom for a few days. Tell your child that the little toilet is for her and the big one is for grown-ups. A few days later, have her sit on the seat (fully clothed is fine). After another few days, start asking your child a number of times every day whether you can take off her diaper so she can sit on her special seat.

Get the right equipment. Child potty seats should be low enough that both feet can rest firmly on the floor. Some seats have multiple stages: They start out as a child-sized seat that sits on the floor and then convert to an adapter that sits on a regular seat. Some even play music when a child is seated.

Don't flush in front of your child, at least at first. While some kids may be fascinated and want to flush over and over and over, others may be terrified, believing that a part of them is being sucked down the toilet.

Minimize or eliminate liquids within an hour of bedtime. This will increase the chances that your child will wake up dry, which will boost his confidence.

Learn to recognize the signs. When you see that knees-together, bouncing-up-and-down dance, find a bathroom fast.

Be positive, but not too positive. Too much excitement about the contents of a diaper can give a toddler the idea that what he's produced is somehow valuable, which may result in him wanting to keep it for himself (inside his body if necessary).

Make it fun. Boys in the early stages of potty training are notoriously bad at aiming. Putting some o-shaped cereal or other targets in the water, or adding some blue food coloring (which turns green when the yellow urine hits it), can make urinating more fun for your son and less messy for you. Boys and girls might like to have books to look at or a special "potty partner" — a stuffed animal or a doll — to keep them company while they're using the potty.

Don't worry about night training for a while. Wait at least until your child is regularly dry after waking from naps and occasionally dry in the morning. Overnight bladder control often doesn't develop until a year or so after daytime control.

Coordinate your approach with other caregivers. Barring any major life change, once you've started the potty training process, there should be no going back. Let preschool teachers, day care providers, and even babysitters know what you're doing at home and ask them to do the same.

Don't make punishment a part of potty training. It's impossible to force a child to use the toilet if he isn't ready or doesn't want to. Children who feel pressured sometimes try to regain control of the situation by refusing to get out of diapers or by not going to the bathroom at all. This can lead to constipation or other conditions that will need to be treated by your pediatrician.

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