While every parent of a preschooler has moments of despair, toilet training will happen at some point, although this timing is different for every child. There are, however, certain tips that can help with the process of toilet training.
Make using the bathroom fun. This might mean using a special potty with your child’s favorite cartoon character on it, or singing a silly song on your way to the bathroom. Reading and singing with your child in the bathroom is another way to help your toddler or preschooler feel comfortable in the bathroom. Stickers are useful too – as a reward after using the toilet, let your child put a sticker on a chart, on his or her hand or shirt, or on a piece of paper simply taped up on the wall. He or she will look forward to this.
Lower stress. Although you may be eager for this part of parenthood to be over, your child will very quickly pick up on any stress you may have about the process. If you are in a hurry, rushing him or her, or are visibly disappointed if there is a “wasted” trip to the toilet, your toddler is bound to feel the pressure. Children pick up on much more than we tend to assume, and they are constantly looking to their parents for behavioral and emotional cues. If you feel yourself getting stressed out, now is a good time to teach your child how to relax by doing breathing exercises together or turning on the water as white noise.
Schedule regular toilet training breaks. It will take a while for your child to understand when he or she has to use the bathroom. When you start potty training, take him or her in every hour or so and provide a few uninterrupted minutes on the toilet. If nothing happens, say, “No problem, we’ll try again later! Good try!” Remember, the more fun and encouraging you are, the more your child will want to continue with the process and ditch the diapers!
Be consistent! When families begin the potty training process and then give up, it is even harder to start the process again. Your child will associate feelings of failure from an abandoned effort, and will be anticipating when they will not have to use the potty again. Finally, look for other areas where your child can showcase their own power and control. Very often, children who do not feel they have control or a voice in other aspect of their life will “take control” over the potty training process. Allowing your child to make choice about what sweater or shoes to wear, which healthy snack to pack for lunch or which book to read at bedtime can help avoid other times when your child will want to demonstrate that they have some control over what they do. Don’t give up and soon your child will be fully trained!