They say that hindsight is 20/20. Here are my tips that I ONLY learned through my own mistakes in potty training my son (now 3) and daughter (just trained).
- You have mother's instincts. Follow them! You know your child. The first question is whether or not your child is ready to try potty training.
Before training ask yourself these questions:
-Is my child interested in their own pee and poop habits?
-Does my child tell me when he/she goes? -Does my child hide when he/she goes?
-Does my child occasionally have a dry diaper in the morning?
-Can my child pee if I put them on the toilet?
-Do I think my child is ready?
Do NOT stress yourself with the following situations:
-My child's friend/cousin has already potty trained.
-My friends child doesn't have accidents.
-Experts say they are ready at ____ age.
-My mom, mother-in-law, friend, coworker, grocery store clerk, etc. thinks my child should be potty trained.
If you don't think they are ready. Put a diaper back on. Let them play ALL day without worrying about it, without guilt, and think about it again another time. Potty training is hard on the mom and the child if it doesn't go well. Know that you and your child are ready physically and emotionally before committing to it.
- Pee is sterile. Quit freaking out. Accidents WILL happen. Think of them as a teaching mechanism. Your child has peed in a diaper since the day he or she was born. The sensation of wetness is the BEST tool to teach them awareness and motivate them to use the toilet.
- Don't use pull ups. This is a hard one. It is okay to put your child on the toilet occasionally and randomly when they are still in diapers to get them used to the idea. Once you think you want to try potty training, be prepared for 3 days at home. 3 days bare bottom. No pull ups, No diapers, No pants, No underwear. I used a long shirt for boys or a dress for girls. That means 3 days with nothing except trips to the potty. These can be random, timed (in 15 min increments), or instinctual. I always tried to potty train, and then got frustrated by evening. I would then put my kids in pull ups. Pull ups confused and prolonged the process. (Some mothers use underwear with the same results. I have found the bare bottom necessary.)
Yes, accidents happen. If you FREAK out, (Trust me on this. I have done it) your child feels like a failure; you feel like a failure... everyone is miserable. Relax, clean it up, and move on. Your child can even help you clean it up. Talk about it, but do not shame them.
If at the end of the 3 days, your child does not initiate using the bathroom most of the time, he or she is not ready. By initiate I mean he or she should tell you they have to use the bathroom most of the time.
Remember my first tip: you have mother's instinct. Use it. This may not work for you, and there is certainly NO guilt in using pull ups or training pants. I just found them to be confusing for both of my children and the whole process became complicated. If I could go back, I would wait until I was certain he was ready, and not use pull ups at all.
If you feel that pull ups are absolutely necessary. Go back to the "is my child ready" question. If you don't think they are ready. Put a diaper back on. Let them play ALL day without worrying about it, without guilt, and try again another time.
- Use rewards. The first few days use rewards for EVERY time they use the potty successfully. Do not punish for accidents. Rewards can be as simple as a happy dance, a sticker, or a piece of candy. Keep it positive. =) After they have the hang of going a little bit. Tell them that they will get a BIG reward for a whole day or week without accidents. (you know your child it should be attainable) Use praise. Let them call their friends and grandparents to tell them that they are potty training.
- PRAY! Pray for wisdom. Pray for patience. Pray for your child. Pray for your house. Pray pray pray. =)
Extra tip: When you are comfortable to leave the house, TAKE a training potty with you in the car. This is a must if you have other small children, because making it to a public bathroom with ALL of my children in tow is impossible. =)
I hope this helps! I know your struggles. I feel for you! Let me know your tips, advice, questions, or if you just want me to pray for you while you are going through it. =)