Dear LA Teacher,
Please tell your readers the best methods to potty train a toddler.
Dear Valley Mom,
Between the ages of 19 months and two years is the perfect time to start potty training your toddler. If you follow these steps, you can have your toddler out of diapers and into training pants in a week.
1) Psychological Preparation. This starts from the early days your baby comes home with you from the hospital. When you change your baby talk to him about his “pee-pee” and “cocky.” We all have different names for urination and deification, so use it right away.
2) When your baby is old enough to crawl around and explore her home, lead her into the bathroom. Let her watch you as you use the toilet. When you finish, get excited and show your baby what you did. Say, “Yeah! Mommy made pee-pee!” Make up a dance or song. Make it fun so your child gets excited too.
3) Once you notice that your baby has a favorite doll, pretend that the doll has to urinate or defecate in the toilet. Eventually, your baby will be bringing the doll to the bathroom on her own.
4) At 14 months go toilet seat shopping with your baby. Pick out two seats you like and have your child choose the one she prefers. Talk to her about what you are buying and why you are buying it.
5) The next day, take your child into the bathroom and reintroduce the potty seat to her. Say, “This is where you can make ‘pee-pee’ and ‘cocky’ just like Mommy.” Let her know it’s a special seat just for her until she is big enough to reach the big toilet.
6) Whenever you are using the toilet, let your child come in and watch. Eventually she will sit on her crown watching you. Only take off your child’s diaper when she asks you to do that. When she does indicate that and sits on her toilet independent of you, she’s ready for potty training.
7) When baby tries for the first time, he will probably miss his toilet and make a mess on the floor. Say, “You tried so hard to hit the target. Nice try.” Then you clean up the mess. When he is successful with his efforts, sing that song or do that dance you made up. Give him hugs and kisses and act as if your kid just discovered a cure for cancer.
8) After a week of successfully using her toilet, its time to get rid of the diapers and buy training underwear. Make a big deal out of this, too. “You have underwear just like Mommy’s. You’re not a baby anymore.” This is a big event so make a party out of it.
9) Once training underwear is worn, watch your toddler for one week. Every 20-30 minutes put her on the seat. Make it fun by reading stories and playing games. The underwear makes the elimination uncomfortable and therefore a deterrent to making a mess in her pants. The first thing in the morning, when your child wakes up, take her to the bathroom. Take her to the restroom after every meal and after every drink. Expect accidents. Let your child know it’s only a mistake and you make mistakes too. Then smile, clean and change her, until the next trip to the bathroom. Don’t diaper your baby for bed. Diapers are no longer an option. Wake up in the middle of the night and take your child to the toilet. Remember, this transition period from diapers to training pants takes a week. It can be grueling, but its worth the effort and the financial savings on diapers.
10) During this process, teach your child to wipe himself and flush the toilet. Make it into a game so he will enjoy coming back. When you visit friends and relatives, drop by the bathroom.
When your child develops the coordination and size, buy him a stool toilet seat that covers the family toilet until he is big enough to get on the seat without the stool.
The developmental stages of children vary from child to child. The guidelines you read here are just that, guidelines. You know your child better than anyone, so adjust what you read to fit the needs of you and your child.
LA Teacher is the author of Goodbye Tchaikovsky and The Legend of Koolura.