Have you heard that the Wiggles have a new toilet training song? Finally! Where were you guys when I needed you? Toilet training can be a long and winding road. Here are 6 toilet training tips and tricks to get you on your way to life without a nappy bag (haha just kidding, you’re still going to have to cart that thing around for years, it will just have more snacks and less nappies).
1. Timing is Everything
The most important factor in determining your success will be to wait until your child is ready. For most children this will be between 2 and 3 years old but every kid is different so don’t be too hung up on these time lines.
When you feel the time is right, make sure that you are ready too. You will need to block off at least three days without too many commitments out of the house. You will also need to free yourself from distractions and focus your attention on your child. This will allow you to pick up on and respond to their non-verbal cues. These may include; the ‘pee pee dance’, passing wind, facial expressions, or my son’s favourite, the crotch grab.
Toilet training should not coincide with any other big changes such as the arrival of a new little brother or sister or the move from a crib to a bed, this is just too overwhelming for everyone.
2. Dress for Success
Shed the nappy first thing in the morning. You will want to be using either undies or letting them go commando. While pull-up nappies are appealing due to lack of mess, your toddler will need to feel that wet, uncomfortable feeling in order to learn the cause and effect of the urge to ‘go’. Take them shopping and let them pick out their own undies. This will help empower them, and if you’re a parent of a toddler, you know how much they love control!
Clothing should be loose and easy to remove in a rush. Or if you choose to go the commando route, check out this genius (but not so environmentally friendly) hack.
3. Select His/Her Majesty’s Throne
Are you going to use a potty or a step stool and small seat for the big toilet? There are advantages and disadvantages to each. While a little potty is easiest to get on and use, at some point you are going to require another transition to the big toilet and there is a lot more clean up involved. (I guess this will depend on how motivated you are to finally stop having to come in physical contact with your child’s poo). Here is a list of pros and cons for each option
4. Have a Potty Mouth
Decide which words you will use for ‘number one’ and ‘number two’ and make them a regular topic of conversation. “Mummy needs to go wee wee” or “Look, that doggie is going poo poo”. Demonstrate how you, yourself use the toilet (let’s face it, your privacy is a thing of the past anyway). Make sure to describe each step along the way from wiping, flushing and washing your hands. Read books about the toilet, role play with dolls and toys, make up a song to go through the steps (if you’re not a Wiggles fan….). All of this will help to make toilet time a normal and expected part of every day life.
5. Be a Cheerleader
The most important reward is positive reinforcement from you. Your child craves your approval so encouragement and verbal praise for their efforts will always be well received. Some parents may also choose to implement rewards. While little toys, stickers or M&M’s can provide a great incentive to make it to the potty, some experts warn against it due to the negative affect when the reward is removed (…but full disclosure….we used an advent calendar and it worked a treat).
Toilet training takes focus and effort and there will inevitably be accidents along the way. Try to be relaxed and go with the flow (pun intended). Your stress and frustration will not speed things up. You’ve go this!