by J.J. Courtiol, M.A. Ed.
Getting your toddler to perform toileting independently is a welcome milestone for any parent. Few of us want to be changing diapers much past the child’s second birthday. However, children vary greatly in their adoption of the potty routine which is influenced by a child’s innate ability, aptitude and maturity. However, there several tips and techniques you can use to hasten the blessed day when your toddler says: "Mommy, I did potty by myself".
- Get your child ready – explain to your child that it’s time to do "pee-pee" and "poo-poo" in the potty. Promote the benefits of being trained such as no more diaper rash, interruptions for diaper changing, being clean and dry. Discuss training as an important stage of growing up.
- Make it fun – first and foremost, make this a game. Children will naturally resist anything which is not framed as a fun learning experience. Use play, music, toys, and stories as part of the experience to keep the child from getting bored or distracted.
- Create a ritual – try to make the experience repeatable so your child knows what to expect each time and gets into the routine of sitting and staying on the potty.
- Use props – use of books, toys, videos and music all help create an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment which is so essential.
- Time it right – Try repeating the process every hour for 2 to 4 minutes. If you can do this close to times your child usually has a bowel movement or urination, such as just after a meal, even better.
- Be prepared – If you are traveling or away from home, bring a folding, plastic adapter ring that fits onto an adult toilet seat is useful. Extra tissue and wipes will be useful in bathrooms that are short on supplies.
- Give praise – give you child social praise for sitting on the potty patiently or for staying dry. If the potty routine is successful, consider some reward (e.g. special prize, book or foods) that are especially valued.
- Show your child how to clean up – demonstrate how to wash hands and dry hands on a towel.
Remember that training you child takes patience and perseverance. Staying on task and being consistent send an important message to your child. Above all, don’t let your child feel forced. It’s important to keep the whole experience fun and enjoyable for the best results.