Toilet training

  • Does he/she want to wear "big boy/girl" underwear? This is a sign of wanting to be independent. Underwear can also serve as a reward for the child's interest in toilet training.
  • Can she pull her pants down and pull them back up herself? This ability allows for easy access when she feels an urge to visit the potty.
  • Does she say when he wants to go potty? This may seem obvious, but sometimes the right signal to begin training is simply waiting for him to verbalize interest.

Above all else, the key to success is patience. It is typical for the toddler to show a flurry of interest, only to back off once the novelty has worn off. Relax, the interest will come back. Remember to praise the successes, but never punish the "failures." Focusing on the accidents will simply create stress and slow down success. Next, it is time to help your child become more aware of the signals the body is sending.

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Use a portable potty seat. While the ultimate goal is to use the toilet, the easy availability of the portable potty seat will allow your child to experience some independence.
  • Let him run around without clothes when possible. Without the safety of the diaper, the child will tend to become acutely aware of when he has to go. Be sure to have the potty handy so he can act on those impulses.
  • Use training underwear. Using both cotton and disposable training underwear is extremely helpful. In general, it is best to start out with disposable underwear, simply because it makes an easy transition from diapers with minimal mess. And they are easier to pull down, which gives the toddler more control. Of course, they tend to feel drier to a child than wet cotton underwear, so cotton pants are preferable when accidents won't cause a major inconvenience.
  • Be patient. It often takes months to become proficient at using the potty. Often there are several "backward" steps.
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