Mommies: Do Not Fear the Potty


Teaching your child to walk is fun (and hilarious – who doesn’t love that teetering, seemingly drunk walk?). Teaching him to try new foods is rewarding – “Wow, my kid LOVES beets!” And teaching him to go to the bathroom? Well, horror stories will tell you that it is nothing short of hellish. If you thought you did a lot of laundry prior to potty training, you are in for a world of hurt. Oh, and be prepared to have urine everywhere. The floor, the walls, and yes, even in your purse.

As a parent, you have the honor of teaching your stubborn, just-got-an-attitude toddler to use the bathroom. In truth, it doesn’t have to be a painful process. In fact, it can be a potty party if you follow a few tips from the pros:

Wait Until They Are Ready

Sure, you are ready to quit changing diapers, but your child might not be up for the change. Most experts agree that there are three ways a child shows they are ready to train:
• They are physically ready to use a toilet – they need to be able to pull their clothes up and down.
• Cognitively, a child should be able to use language to communicate effectively about the potty process.
• Lastly, the child should be interested. Without the motivation to go, the training process will be insanely stressful for both Mommy and child.

There are a few ways to facilitate that interest – read on.

Bribe ‘Em

Really, all life is a bribe: I will work for you if you pay me. I will be nice to you if you do what I ask. I will do my business outside if you feed me (dog bribe). So why not use the hint of a special treat when it comes to potty training? Small, bite-sized candies can work wonders. Think mini M&Ms, gummy bears or Skittles – one at a time.

Not into sweets? Have no fear – the piggy bank can work just as well. Toddlers love putting things into other things. Give your child a penny every time she pees, two for making a poop. She can fill the piggy bank and jingle jangle it with delight.

Boys Will Be Boys

Face it, Mommy: You just don’t have the same equipment as your son. Therefore, his potty time experience with you may not be as meaningful as it is with Dad. Allow your son to see that “Daddy goes potty, too.”

Ever heard of target practice? You’re about to. Throw some Cheerios in the toilet and have your son take aim. This can help a boy learn to pee while standing up and get him to look forward to potty time.

Free As a Bird

When in doubt, take a weekend and let them run around naked. Put them on the potty every hour or so to avoid accidents (read: urine in your purse). Gradually work your way up to putting clothes on them, making a big deal of big boy/girl underwear. Take them to the store and have them pick out their own underpants, engaging them in the process so they are excited about wearing their new clothes.

Positive, positive, positive

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more child abuse occurs during potty training than during any other developmental step. Yes, it can be frustrating (did we mention urine IN YOUR PURSE?), but using punishment or shame as a strategy for potty training can set the stage for psychological trauma. Experts agree that positive reinforcement is the best way for both Mommy and toddler to train together. Positive praise and sweet treats work well.