If you are going through a stressful time such as moving house, marriage problems or about to go on holiday, don’t start potty training. Wait for a time when everything has calmed down and then start so there are no interferences or things on your mind. Stressful situations can affect children, even when you think they are fine or haven’t noticed, and so potty training should be timed carefully and not attempted until everything is stable.
Make sure your child is ready to start using the potty before you even attempt to train them. If they aren’t able to let you know their needs yet or cannot sit on a potty unaided then they are not ready. The biggest mistake you can make is forcing them to learn and hoping they will manage it when they are obviously too young. They will not understand what is happening and may become upset. Most children are ready when they are two to two and a half, but it can be slightly earlier or later than that.
There are inevitably going to be accidents at the beginning of training and should be treated with minimum fuss. Your child is only learning and it could take a while before they grasp on to the concept. In the meantime they are going to forget what you have told them, have accidents and need changing -- but this is all part of the process. Shouting at them will automatically make them nervous and prone to more accidents. Encourage them every step of the way and if they do wet themselves, clear it up and carry on.
When your child has gone to the toilet successfully on their own, don’t expect them to be able to do it every time from now on. They may forget to tell you next time or be too engrossed in something to recognise the urges. Continue with the training and regularly ask them if they need to use the toilet. If they go to day nursery or are looked after by someone else for a few hours make sure the carer is aware of the situation and takes over toilet training for those few hours, otherwise you could end up back at stage one.
Start potty training with no expectations and no deadlines. Your child will learn at the pace they are comfortable with and telling them you expect them to learn by a certain date will put unnecessary pressure on them, which may impede their training, as they won’t understand what is expected of them. If training takes longer than you expect just go with it and continue to encourage your child. Slowly but surely they will get there, however long it takes.
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