I knew once I had a child I would have to potty train them eventually but my goodness I didn’t expect it to come this quickly! I have officially procrastinated! My son will be 3 years old in May and he has absolutely no interest in even sitting on the potty. He has no problems cheering on his classmates and cousins but he’s just not ready to take the plunge himself (no pun intended). So, I went to the first person I always go to when I need any advice that is early childhood related – my twin sister Christina! Christina is a registered Early Childhood Educator and has a Bachelor of science degree majoring in Early Childhood from the University of Guelph Humber. On top of all that education, she has 10 years of working experience in the field which means lots of potty training experience! Also her son, Adamo, is just 2 and a half and he’s basically fully potty trained – which is amazing to me!
I really need to hunker down and get started so I asked her to round up all of her best potty training advice and send it over to me. Feel free to ask any questions you have for Christina in the comments section below. Ok, let’s get started…
Potty training tips from Christina the ECE
1) Start as early as possible. I started putting my son on the portable toilet seat (some people prefer a potty instead) around 18 months old at bath time. The water running would always make him pee so it was a good introduction to the toilet. Children will show readiness at all different times but it is important to introduce the toilet early to avoid fear or hesitation. Some children may be scared so take a break and wait a few weeks and try again if they are afraid.
2) Make a conscious effort to label what your child did when he/she is in diapers (you did pee, you did poo) or whatever words you choose to use. Encourage your child to label it themselves as well. If they are around when you are using the bathroom (which is very often in my house) tell your child “look I did pee in the toilet!” (Yes, this sounds weird but you do what you have to do for the sake of your kids).
3) Get some books or videos about potty training and introduce it and talk about it as early as possible. Keep these books in the bathroom for them to look at while on the toilet/potty as well.
4) When you think your child is showing more signs of readiness (longer time between diaper changes), occasional successful toileting trips and your child verbally telling you they went pee/poo (even if in their diaper), introduce underwear. Some people use pull-ups but I think that it’s no different than a diaper and they will be less willing to hold it if they can just pee. I tried pull ups a couple of times and you don’t want to see what messy poo accidents look like in a pull up, trust me!
5) Keep communication open between your child’s daycare provider (early childhood educators, nanny, home daycare provider etc.) about your child’s progress and status with potty training and readiness to ensure that the day and night routines are consistent and to discuss what works and doesn’t work with your child.
6) Pick a time to start exclusively putting your child in underwear when you will be home for a few days (a weekend, time off from work, summer etc.) or when you do not have to make long trips out of the house. Going back and forth from diapers to underwear causes a lot of confusion for children and will extend the process.
7) When your child is in underwear, look for signs that they have to go and ask them every hour or two (or sooner if they’ve had a lot to drink). Try and avoid giving them too much liquids to help avoid accidents.
8) When your child pees or poos In the toilet, be very excited! The more excited you are, the more proud they will feel! Offer them a reward (I used smarties) in the beginning to encourage my son to go. Some children respond well to stickers on a sticker chart or other treats. In the beginning, I gave a treat every time he tried to go, and then slowly decreased it the more he went.
9) Stop liquids 2 hours before bedtime to help them be able to learn to hold it overnight (the overnight part takes time).
10) As hard as it can be at times, try your best to be patient. Don’t over react when they have accidents. Be consistent and remember that the process can be quick! Researchers say that it takes up to 3 months for your child to be fully potty trained so the more committed you are to this process, the better the outcome will be.
Once your child is potty trained, here are some tips that worked for me to ensure my son’s continued success:
a) Bring a portable toilet seat everywhere you go (kind of annoying but better than lugging tons of diapers!) with wipes and a potty book. This works for me because my son is so small and won’t pee on big toilets yet. They sell these at all major children’s stores and are foldable and very convenient!
b) Always be prepared with at least 2 full changes of clothes and extra underwear. There is always a chance for an accident, especially when they are busy playing and having fun.
c) If there is a period where your child regresses after being successfully potty trained (they get sick, a new baby, vacation, etc.) don’t fret! Just stay consistent with what you’ve been doing and they’ll get back on track.
d) Depending on the age of your child and your child specifically, keep a diaper/pull up at night until you notice consistent mornings with dry diapers. This part can take time. I highly suggest goodnight sleep
mats under your child’s sheets. They serve as an absorbent layer for the occasional accident and will protect the mattress and mattress cover – Eliminates lots of laundry! Same goes for nap time, some children require a pull Up while they are sleeping for the first little while. Remember, full potty training takes time!
e) Even though you want to ask your child every hour if they have to go to the washroom, try and let them come to you. I noticed my son getting frustrated so I just stepped back and let him tell me when he has to go. This will help build their independence and avoid frustration and regression.
Good luck everyone and Happy Potty Training!