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10 Potty training secrets

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Potty training tips and tricks

Potty training can be a frustrating struggle for both parents and kids, especially if you try to train before your child is actually ready. Not every method will work for every child. If your way isn't working, try these potty training secrets for success.

Potty training tips and tricks
1Don't compare to other moms

You probably know one mother who has glory stories about her son speaking full sentences at six months old and being completely potty trained by a year. She's probably lying. And even if she birthed a child who is a developmental oddity, you shouldn't use her success as a guideline.

2Use the regular toilet

You don't need potty seats or chairs that light up or sing. Though you want your child to be interested in potty training, you don't want her to view it as play time. Stick to the regular toilet and use a step stool, if you can. Children learn by mimicking. So allow your child to watch the parent of the same sex using the toilet. They'll be more likely to want to try it out.

Read about the 18 Best potty training books and videos >>

3Try different bribes

M&M's work wonders for many moms. But if your child isn't motivated by candy, try something else -- and it doesn't have to be food. Many kids will respond to coins, stickers, blocks, Hot Wheels and other items that they they can keep, rather than to traditional candy.

4Make sure your child is ready

Just because your toddler reaches a certain age or knows how to say "potty" doesn't mean they are actually ready. If you try to potty train for a few weeks without much success at all, give yourself and your child a break. Wait a couple months and then try again. Don't worry -- your little one is not going to still be in diapers in third grade. He'll use the potty when he's ready.

Take our potty training readiness quiz>>

5Set a timer

Many moms have success with the timer method. They sell potty watches just for this purpose, but a kitchen timer will work as well. Set aside a day or weekend where you are just going to get potty training done. Use the timer and every 20 minutes, put your child on the toilet without fail. On the second day, extend the time to 30 minutes or an hour. Pretty soon, your child will remember to go to the toilet without a timer.

6Celebrate appropriately

You don't have to sound off bells and whistles just because your little one poops in the toilet. For some children, too much praise can be overwhelming and intimidating. Your reaction to your child's potty triumphs should be suited to his personality. If your kid thrives on energy and celebration, then by all means whoop it up.

Potty training praise and encouragement: How much? >>

7Make it convenient

If your daughter understands the concept of going in the potty, but never makes it to the toilet in time, then make it a little more convenient for her. Buy a mini potty chair and keep it in the living room or whatever room you hang out in most of the day. If the toilet is right there, she's more likely to use it. After success in the living room, work your way up to the bathroom.

8Stop stressing about it

Your children feed off your emotions. If you are stressed out and frustrated about potty training, then your child will feel your frustration too and be upset that he isn't meeting your expectations. That kind of pressure isn't good. Your kid will eventually get potty trained. Stop sweating every accident, just clean it up and move on.

Find out more about how to solve potty training challenges >>

9Let him go naked

Let your child go naked around the house for the day. Pulling training pants or underwear up and down may just be too much for him to worry about right now. Ask him every 30 minutes or so if he needs to use the potty. If you catch him going on the floor, quickly get him to the toilet. Once he gets in the routine of going to the toilet, then your can transition him into underwear and remind him every two hours or so to go.

10Just do it

If you have tried all the tips and tricks you've ever heard of, just do it. Pick a day, put him in big-boy underwear and see what happens. Undoubtedly he's going to soil his pants several times. Keep calm (don't scold a child over accidents), clean him up and change him -- reminding him that he needs to use the toilet next time. It will be a trying day...or few days, but eventually he'll get the hang of it.

Learn how to deal with potty training regressions >>

More on preschoolers:

Fun things to do with your preschooler
5 Tips to manage the morning meltdown
Tantrum tips: 5 Ways to stop a public tantrum

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