I’ve recently taken on what seems to be an almost insurmountable task: potty training my preschooler. Of all the things I’ve had to do thus far on this crazy journey that is parenting, this one is the grossest. I’d take potty training my cat any day over potty training my preschooler. And yet, it must be done.
Just a few months away from turning the big number three, my son is doing a spectacular job. We started potty training less than two weeks ago, and I think he’s pretty much got things figured out. But getting it all started wasn’t easy. Here’s what I did, and here are my best tricks to help you potty train your little one.
Prep with Books
We started preparing our son for potty training long before we took away the diapers. Keenan loves to read, so I bought him this fabulous little book called “The Potty Book for Boys.” It’s the story of one little boy’s potty training experience; it talks about how it’s OK to have accidents, and why wearing underwear is better than wearing a diaper. He’s really engaged with the story, and I feel that it really helped prepare him to begin potty training.
Get Your Child Comfortable with the Potty
We bought Keenan his potty almost a year ago just so he could get comfortable sitting on it. I took him to the store and let him pick out his very own mini-potty – a blue Elmo seat that “flushes” – and boy, was he ever excited! We left the potty seat in the living room so he could “flush” it, sit on it, and generally understand that potties aren’t scary. Getting your kid to sit on the potty is half the battle – so start early!
Go Cold Turkey
Here’s the thing: When you want your kid to be done with diapers, you need to get rid of them (the diapers, not the kids). Pull-ups are a no-no, except for at nighttime. Having your child wear underwear one hour and a pull-up the next won’t create anything but confusion.
I initially started Keenan in underwear by just having him wear them in the evenings after daycare. While he did well in those few hours before bed, we found that he’d just hold it in until we put a diaper back on for bedtime – so long story short, it didn’t work at all. One day, I put underwear on him right when he got up in the morning and sent him to school diaper-less (something I hadn’t done before) and he realized that he couldn’t just hold it all day. That’s when he started to want to use the potty. Ever since then, he’s been diaper free, except at bedtime.
Now, I’ll admit, letting you child go diaper free can be nerve-wracking, especially if you like your furniture, car and carpeting the way it is. Accidents happened, but they were learning experiences. My son’s teacher smartly suggested having children wear underwear beneath rubber pants. That way, if they have an accident, your couch won’t get messed up, but your child will understand that going potty in his or her underwear can make things pretty uncomfortable!
I’ve never met a toddler who couldn’t be bribed by M&Ms. Keenan will do just about anything for candy, so we cut a deal with him that he could have an M&M every time he used the potty. It worked like a charm! While bribery isn’t his main motivation for using the toilet, it helps to have a reward so he knows he’s doing things right. I’ve also heard of parents having success with rewards like Cheerios, Matchbox cars and pennies.
Keenan goes to daycare full time, and I believe being around other kids his age has really benefited him. When he first started using the potty, it helped him to have his best friend by his side. When I asked my fellow Zing Bloggers how they potty trained their kids, many of them mentioned that having older siblings or friends as an example really did the trick.
Well, there you have it. Those are the strategies I used to potty train my little guy. Do you have any tips to share with other Zing readers? How did you potty train your little guy or gal? Share in the comments section below!