Q: [Toddler ] I’m having anxiety about potty training my little one. I don’t want to do the wrong thing. How should I start?
A: The first rule of potty training is to not fear potty training. It will likely be messy. It probably won’t be easy. There will be unexpected setbacks and a few memorable surprises. But it’s OK. You’ve got this.
As a pediatrician, I have noticed that potty training is most successful when parents take this important journey in three phases: preparation, training and maintenance.
Preparation: To prepare your house for potty training, have your child participate in choosing a potty seat or toilet insert and allow them to decorate the seat to help them feel that this seat is their own. Similarly, allow your child to pick out his or her own underwear. And if you are going to use a reward system, give your child a say in what the reward will be. (Most pediatricians, myself included, advise against using food as a reward.) Make sure all caregivers are on the same page.
Training: For some parents, sticking to a schedule has proven helpful. This generally means bringing a toilet-training child to the bathroom to “try” at regular intervals (many families choose an hourly schedule). To counter resistance from kids who might not want to drop what they’re doing to head to the bathroom, setting alarms or just simply offering 10-minute warnings before potty breaks is usually effective. The important thing here is consistency. When a child does successfully use the potty, go nuts! Let them know that this is a cause for celebration.
Maintenance: Setbacks are common, “accidents” happen and some children, believing that a part of their body leaves them when they use the bathroom, begin to fear going potty. In all these cases, patience is your friend.
You always hear of the child who was toilet trained over a single weekend, but more often than not it can take several months. Just keep it low-pressure and low-stress.
Dr. Mandeep (Mona) Singh is a pediatrician with Hoag Medical Group in Irvine. She approaches her patients with enthusiasm, vigor and a big smile. www.hoagmedicalgroup.com