A little abrasive, I know, but these are four really wonderful words when you are a parent of a toddler. It's like the final sign that they are potty-trained. Well, at least in my case. This post is not to give directions on how to potty train your child. Trust me...you are the only expert on your kid. They are all so different, so I will never be the one to judge anyone's progress or lack of progress when it comes to potty training. I'm simply going to give a few tips that I was given by other successful moms. They worked great with Parker and I would honestly have to say that our potty training experience was a breeze. I love getting advice from other moms, so I figure when I have some, I might as well share it. Again, I am not saying that I am supermom or have a brilliant child (though he is), I'm simply saying I want to share some info that worked for me that might work for you. Here's my list of dos and do nots. (Note: These may all be completely thrown out the window with Graham.)
Tip 1. Don't start too early. Potty Training has little to do with age or intelligence...or how many other kids you know your child's age that are potty trained. There are so many mental, physical, and emotional things that all have to come together at the same time for your child to be ready. You will end up stressing yourself and kid way too much. I think a few key signs that they are ready are when they show interest, can pee on command, and can be bribed. Parker could not consciously pee until he was 2 years 4 months old. It was pointless to even start before this point. We'd let him sit on a potty for fun if he wanted, but that was the extent of our potty experience with Parker until he was 28 months. He figured our how to actually control his peeing in the shower with daddy (don't say ewwww-we've all done it). Once you know that they can actually pee when they want to, make sure they can be bribed with stickers or candy-something along those lines. Also, make sure they are interested in peeing in the potty. Don't be that parent that straps your kid to the pot and demands they go. It won't work. You want you kid to please you, not obey you when it comes to potty training.
Tip 2. Don't start and stop. In other words, go big or go home. Your child might figure out that if they have an accident, they can have their diapers back. I explained to Parker once I decided to potty train that he no longer wore diapers, only big boy undies. Yes, he peed on himself a bunch the first few days, but I just stuck another clean pair of undies on. It was messy, sure, but he didn't get mixed messages. He was a big boy now, even if he made a mistake and forgot to go in the potty.
Tip 3. Do use a timer. Best advice ever. Thanks Lyn. At first, Parker fussed with me over going when he wasn't in the mood. With the timer set at every thirty minutes, I explained to him that when it beeped, we had to go to the bathroom. He seemed much more complaint with the timer than with me. They won't have to go every time, but it keeps them from having accidents. There's no kid out there that can't hold it 30 minutes. I think this method gives your child a chance to have more success than failure. When they get to please you over and over, it ingrains in their minds. As they get better, change the timer to every hour. Once your kid is doing well with this, you can just take them when they are giving signs. The pee pee dance is Parker's favorite. He'll swear he doesn't have to go...but be jigging with his knees together. So funny.
Tip 4: Do use a bribe every time they go for the first few days. After they are pretty consistent, you need to slowly fade out the rewards (other than loads of praise) for peeing. You don't want a diabetic or a 5 year old still expecting palatable rewards. You may still have to lavish them with M&m's for pooing for a while.
TIP 5: Don't compare too much. Who cares (besides your ego) when other kids are getting potty trained? It will just drive you crazy and end up just putting too much pressure on your child. It's also setting bad precedent early. There will always be people who are smarter, faster, and cuter (yeah, it's true) and you don't want your child to think they are lesser of a child if he or she is not at the same level as other kids on any of these issues. It's OK to strive for greatness and be number one, but don't take it too far-it will make for an obnoxious and insecure child.
I could give more advice I've heard, but this post is already long enough and Parker is yelling that he has to pee. Oh, the irony! Feel free to ask any questions if you're about to embark on the potty train. I'm not an expert by any means, but I had easy success. I also have lots of friends with potty trained children. I can consult this great panel of experts (my friends with children)if you have a question I'm not sure about. Good Luck!
We used a little potty for the first 4 months of potty training. Now he's moved up to the big one-he's totally proud as you can tell. He normally stands for #1, but I didn't want to leave you with an indecent picture. You're grateful, I know. Don't mind the wild hair!