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5 Tips to Teach Your Child How to Use the Potty

Posted by Bill DAlessandro on

Everyone who has raised kids has their own potty training method that worked for them. Most parents mix and match different methods and tools until they find one that works for their family. It’s one of those areas where you’ll have to judge for yourself what’s right for your child. No book, article, or blog is going to have all of the answers.

Children are typically ready to use the potty between eighteen and twenty-four months. Around this time they should be staying dry for at least two hours at a time and have the muscle development to let go of a toy. (A child who can’t release a toy can’t likely release urine or a bowel movement into the toilet.)

The best method is to take all the tips you can learn and combine them together to form something your child learns from. Use these tips to help teach your child how to use the potty.

1. Don’t make potty training about discipline.

Children are ready to use the potty on their own timeline, based on their physical, cognitive, and emotional development. You’re asking your child to change a routine they’ve been a part their entire life. They won’t let go easily, unless they want to. As parents it’s our job to make them want to be potty trained, and then show them how. The motivation will come from them.

2. Remain calm and confident.

Children pick up on our anxiety and frustration. If they can see that you’re not happy with their performance, they’ll become nervous and, in turn, less likely to perform. Stay calm and don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t take to the potty right away. Treat the experience like a process you and your child are going through together and you’ll avoid the common power struggles and emotional turmoil.

3. Remove any barriers to progress.

Try to reduce the amount of new information you ask your child to process whenever he has to use the potty. As he gets it right, you can introduce more and more steps. Avoid dressing him in clothing that is difficult to get off, for you or him. You may miss your window if he or you struggle unsnapping or unbuttoning his clothes. Also, keep anyone or anything away that may distract him from the objective. Keep family members, pets, and toys out of the bathroom.

4. Offer more fluids.

While potty training your child, offer more fluids than you would normally. Your child will need the pee more frequently. This gives you more opportunities to teach your child in a shorter period of time, which reinforces the lessons.

5. Try the pretend doll.

The pretend doll is a somewhat popular method where you use a doll or human-like toy to simulate the potty routine. The doll is given a drink and then has to pee. Parents take off the doll’s diaper, sit it on the potty, and then offer praise to the doll once it has peed and washed its hands. Then, you and the child check the doll’s diaper. If it’s dry, load on more praise. If it’s wet (you’ll have to sneak this in), use simple, but positive, correction.

Once you’ve gone through the routine several times and had your child teach the doll, you take your child through the steps himself.

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