Potty training our daughter almost became a daunting task— a parent’s nightmare. It was a few months after my daughter turned 2 years old that we started the whole potty training journey. We had been attempting to potty training out daughter for months with no accomplishment in sight. When I saw signs of progress, she would regressed two steps back. To say the least, it was a frustrating, overwhelming, happy, and rewarding moment once my daughter did learn how to potty. At times, it made me feel like a failed mommy. I’ve been able to teach her everything except how to potty and it was taking an emotional toll on me. What I learned from this experience was that it is important for parents to learn how to teach their children to potty. They need the right tools and strategies necessary that will help their child and their unique personalities.
- Be patient. This milestone in your child’s life will take so much patience and grace. There will be times when you will feel frustrated, angry, and impatient but staying calm is the best remedy. Once I learned this the hard way, my daughter took to potty training. If she had an accident, I learned that it is important not to yell or place blame. We need to show lots of grace and explain to them that it’s okay to have accidents and that next time, we will try to make it to the potty. I needed to learn to be patient, not yell at her, and reinforce to her the whole process.
- Read or talk about potty. It wasn’t until my sister who is a preschool teacher that started talking to my daughter about why she needed to potty in the toilet that it began to click for my daughter. This was a mistake that I did at the beginning. I didn’t talk to my daughter about it and just expected her to know about it. I needed to explain to her the whole process for her to understand what was going on. We tend to be naïve and think that they don’t understand well at this age but by simply talking about it, children will begin to learn the concepts and what it being asked of them. My sister also gave her a potty book and I would read it to her constantly when she was in the toilet so she understood what was going on.
- Stick to underwear. Another mistake I made early on was keeping my daughter in diaper or training underwear. It confused her because she thought that why did she need to potty in the toilet when she was wearing her diaper. The weekend that we just focused on potty training her, I completely took off the diaper and explained to her that only babies wear diapers. Since she is a big girl, she now gets to wear real underwear. It also helped that I took her to the store and let her pick out her own underwear. After repeating a number of times, it stuck to her consciousness and started saying, “uh uh no more diaper for me.” And she was completely fine and okay with it.
- Reward system. I tried several reward systems to figure out what worked for her. To get her to start using the potty, I would give her my phone but I learned quickly that this was not going to work well. She would just want the phone and sit for a while and not potty at all. Then, I switched to a reward system where I would give her a sticker to put on a chart and then give her one of the Kinder chocolates with the chocolate and toy inside. This seemed to work and it really helped her feel confident and proud of herself every time she went to potty. I slowly removed the kinder chocolate and would only give it to her if she remembered. By the end, we stuck to the sticker chart and counts all the stickers every time she puts a new one.
- Reserve three days. I read this as I was researching about potty training and my sister also confirmed that it is best to reserve several consecutive days to potty train. Consistency is key. A three day holiday was coming up and coincidently it was out five year anniversary so we did away with our plans and just stayed home to potty train out two year old. Staying at home and just reinforcing potty really helped her get into a routine. On the first day, my daughter learn to pull her underwear up and down. This gave her agency to decide on her own when she wanted to potty. By the second and third day, she was comfortable with the whole process and began to tell us when she wanted to potty on her own. I would also occasionally remind her that if she needed to use the potty, to let mommy know.
Potty training is all about finding the best tools and strategies that will help you teach your child taking into account their personalities. Patience and consistency are definitely key! It took us about it took us less than 5 months but I really needed to have taken less. I just needed to be consistent with her and not go back and forth to using a diaper. While it was convenient for us, it would confuse her.