Potty Training Guide for New Parents

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A crucial step in your child’s growth and development, and often much easier said than done: potty training. This step can be scary and stressful for both kids and parents. Children might not have a very firm grasp on their new responsibilities, and parents can be intimidated by leaving the safety and comfort of diapers. Nevertheless, it’s an important step that we all have to take, both as parents and as kids! Let’s take a look at some of the key components when it comes to potty training.

Choosing the Right Time

There’s no magic period of time that it’ll take to get your kid to go to the bathroom on their own. In many cases, probably the majority, potty training will take multiple months of small but consistent progress. In some cases, some parents are able to knock it out over a few weeks. Even more impressive, accounts from some parents share that their potty training only took a few days.

While it’s perfectly normal for potty training to take a long period of time, and even the best approaches aren’t guaranteed to give you perfect results in days or weeks, choosing the wrong time to start potty training your kid will inevitably make the process longer. To know if it’s the right time, ask yourself if your kid is able receive and understand instructions, able to get to and sit on the toilet by themselves, able to go a couple of hours without wetting themselves, able to take their own pants off and put them back on again, and if they show interest using “big-kid” underwear. If most of these sound like yes to you, it might be a good time to start potty training.

Picking a Strategy

Whether you decide to try to potty train your kid over the course of months from the get-go or whether you’re feeling like you can knock it out in a few days is really up to you and how ready you think your kid is. If they’re already showing an interest in using the toilet (either from watching you or an older sibling), it might be a good idea to try a quick, intensive attempt at potty training. This attempt might give flawless results, and even if it doesn’t, opting to take a slower approach is never taking a step backwards. It’s natural!

Intensive Few Days?

If you do decide to go for an intensive few days or week-long session, accounts from parents who have tried this method and succeeded say that you truly need to find a spread of days that you can dedicate completely and only to potty training. You might want to ditch the diapers from the start, communicate to your kid what’s happening and what the goal is, then continue to watch your child like a hawk throughout the day. They might not understand yet what having to go to the bathroom feels like, and if this is their crash course in learning just that, then there are bound to be accidents. Try to recognize when your kid is about to go to the bathroom (if they aren’t telling you yet), and make sure to rush them to the toilet before it’s too late.

The Longer Strategy

If opting for a longer strategy, whether it be your first choice or whether the quick one didn’t pan out, the idea is essentially the same. When at home, promote these same ideas. Get your kid to the bathroom when it’s time, and always make sure to communicate what is happening and why it’s happening. Schedule potty breaks, a few minutes at a time every couple of hours, to get your child used to going and sitting on the toilet. You can keep giving them a book to read or something to play with while they sit on the toilet to promote the experience as positive and enjoyable, and most importantly, not boring.

Consistency and Positivity

Whether you decide to try to tackle this over a long weekend or over the rest of the year, the most important thing is to maintain consistency and positivity. However, you choose to promote using the toilet as a fun, positive experience, be it with stickers, with picture books, with toys, or with snacks as prizes, make sure to stay consistent. You want to make sure your kid develops a positive connection with using the bathroom correctly.

The other important pillar is to use positivity—praise good behavior and try to not get mad or upset over accidents. After all, that’s what they are, accidents. Your child doesn’t understand, yet, that they’re supposed to be going in the toilet. All of their life, they’ve gone in their diapers, and this has always been okay. They’re not trying to ruin your floors, and they’re not trying to upset or frustrate you. This process is probably just as stressful to them, and visible anger or frustration is only going to link negative emotions to this learning process.

Communication, consistency, and positivity. Plan potty breaks, ditch the diapers, keep a sharp eye on your kid, and give lots of praise when they make it to the bathroom. It can be a rollercoaster of a process, but it’s truly and ultimately for the better.

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