We have spent a lot of time talking to parents about potty training, and while each child is different, there are three common mistakes that parents make that we want you to avoid.
1) “I threw away all the diapers, Now what?” Failing to plan for potty training is sure to yield frustration and disappointment. Deciding to ditch the diapers and start tomorrow is not a plan. Kids rarely become interested in potty training without some parental involvement. So once you have determined your child’s readiness, prep your child with board books and videos about potty training, talk to your child about their bodies, and toileting and determine what words you will use to talk about the process (pee, poop etc.). Then include your child in a shopping trip to get all your potty training supplies.
Finally, on the date you choose to start the actual potty training, make sure you have blocked off 2 more days afterwards to focus on teaching your child to use the potty. Potty training is a big deal to a child that has never had to think about their bodily functions. It is not fair to them to wake up one day and decide to embark on this milestone. It is also important for you to be in the right headspace. A little preparation on your part will go a long way on this journey.
2)”I don’t want pee all over my carpet and furniture.” Not allowing accidents to happen means that you are blocking one of your most powerful teaching tools. Kids learn from mistakes, falling down as they learn to walk, dropping cheerios as they perfect their grasp to self-feed, mispronouncing words until they get them right. If you scoop your child up and rush them to the bathroom when you start to see urine dripping down their leg, or worse yet, you scold them for potty accidents, you will interfere with your child learning about their body and learning what it feels like to be soiled.
Now I am not implying that you need to let your child go to the bathroom, anywhere and everywhere, but in the first few days, the accidents are important for kids to discover how their bodies work, what the urge to pee or poop feels like, and what it looks like when you don’t get to the potty on time. In some cases, the act of scooping up and rushing a child to the potty can create anxiety and little ones can start to feel negatively about this natural process. If you are worried about carpets and furniture, keep your child in a prescribed area during the early days of potty training so that your clean-up is minimized.
3)“It’s been 3 days, why isn’t she getting it?” Potty training in 3 days is one of the biggest myths of early parenting. Does it happen? Sure. Is it the norm? Absolutely not. What is more common is that the number of accidents a child has on Day 3 is less than on Day 1. A child may start to “get it”, but they are rarely completely potty trained after a long weekend. And by completely potty trained we mean, independently recognizes the need to use the potty, takes themselves to the bathroom without adult supervision, performs all the steps alone (with the exception of wiping), and then goes back to what they were doing with little to no fanfare. Setting a three day timetable is unrealistic. Think more 8-12 weeks. If it takes less time than that, congratulations. If it takes longer, no worries. The important thing to look for is progress in your child’s understanding of their body, a growing recognition of the urge to use the bathroom, and fewer and fewer accidents.
Is there something you wish you had known before you started potty training your little one? Let us know in the comments below.