Key Take aways:
- Take your kid with you to the potty
- Introduce the potty
- Read potty books with your kid
- Have your child sit on the potty
- Empty a diaper into the toilet
- Discuss elimination
- Introduce wiping and washing
- Introduce undies!
- Praise your child for progress
article summary: Potty training is like painting: the real work is all in the preparation. But that means more than just buying undies. Before you remove any diapers, make sure your kid knows where HIS primary potty is. Make sure he knows how the potty works and talk to him about how bodies work too. If your child cannot follow a two-step sequence (“Please go to your room and grab your shoes.”) he is not ready to begin toilet training. Fun books can help you both enjoy those conversations. Wiping and washing hands are part of potty training too, so make sure they know the drill and can reach what they need. And don’t forget cleaning supplies.
Every child will respond to potty learning differently. Some will be completely exuberant, all-in, this is totally awesome I have been waiting my whole life for this moment; and others may be indifferent, hesitant, or tell you hell no.
HERE'S A FEW IDEAS TO GET YOUR KID STOKED ON THE THROWN.
Take your child with you to the bathroom
Include them every chance you are able (we know, that gets old REAL fast). But, the more they watch you in the whole process, the more they will want to mimic you.
Introduce the potty
Let your child watch you and learn about how big people use the potty as early as you are comfortable. Explain to them what big people do on the potty and show them all of the awesome features. When you start potty training, designate one bathroom to be his main go-to.
Have your child sit on the potty
If you have a potty chair, keep it in the bathroom so they can explore using it whenever they are intrigued. Encourage them to sit on it (even with their diaper and clothes on) when you are on the potty as well, just so they can become used to it. If you have them sit on the toilet, consider putting a potty insert on first so they feel like it is meant for their use as well.
Empty a poopy diaper into the toilet
Rather than tossing the diaper out, let your child start to put the pieces together by having them help you put the poop in their diaper into the potty.
Discuss how poop and pee come out of bodies
Take advantage of opportunities to teach your child about elimination. For example, let them be a part of feeding the family pet, and then let them watch you as you pick up after the pet in the yard so you can explain how poop works. Books are an awesome tool for helping children understand poop. Here’s our book list. You can also have these conversations when you change their diaper, saying, "This is a very wet diaper! You must have had a lot of water with your lunch."
Introduce wiping and hand washing
Start with a low-risk situation like letting them wipe themselves after peeing either in their diaper or on the potty. This is also a great opportunity to talk about their different body parts and explain how to properly wipe (especially girls —> front to back). Follow it up with some handwashing and make sure they can be as independent as possible by giving them a step stool, an easy-to-use soap dispenser, and a towel. Teach them the sequence of the potty and of washing.
This step is the BEST! You can approach undie buying in many ways. Some parents like to wait until their child uses the potty for the first time and then go pick out awesome undies to celebrate. Others use the undie trip to the store as the launching point for getting them excited about starting potty training. Whatever route you go, make sure to include them and make it a fun outing to celebrate them in this milestone. You will need a few other supplies as well–we’ve got the full list here.
Read books about the potty.
Having a few potty books that your kid can peruse at their leisure or read with you means you don’t have to teach everything or come up with the perfect explanation yourself. Potty books help your kid see the big picture—answering some questions before they even know to ask. And likely sparking a few questions for the two of you to have a good old-fashioned poo bonding moment. Some of the pros we talked to even keep a few books NEXT TO THE POTTY, and use them to help pass the time if your child needs to stay on the potty for a few more minutes. In case you are wondering which books we like, here’s our list.
Acknowledging their efforts and progression is paramount. But, you don't need to jump around and yell to all your neighbors from your front door that your kid pooped in the potty. (Although we all want to because that means we are awesome, our kid is awesome, and we are one step closer to no diapers!). Let your child relish in their big accomplishment and verbalize what you see. For example, you may think about saying, "You were so quick to get to the potty to go pee. I can see you feel very excited about getting there in time!" On that note, when your child has a mishap like an accident, do your very best (and we know this can be hard sometimes) to put a positive spin on it, such as by saying, "I saw how quickly you were trying to get to the potty. Next time you will make it!"