Finish Training like a Pro
5/30/2008 | by
By Katherine Bontrager
Tried-and-true potty training tips are among the most coveted of insider information for parents, anxiously traded at play dates and in chat rooms. So what tips do parents offer for smooth sailing to a happily potty trained child?
The Allure of Being All Grown Up
“Training my older son was easy,” says Melissa Prusher of Manalapan, N.J. “He really wanted [real] underwear, and I told him if I bought them then he’d have to give his diapers up. He said, ‘OK,’ and we went to [the store] to purchase Toy Story … underwear.”
But things didn’t go quite as planned. “When we got home, he didn’t want to give up his diaper,” says Prusher. “So I loaded him back into the car and went back to [the store] to return the underwear. As he was crying, I told him to make a choice. And he did. He chose the underwear and gave up his diaper that very day.”
Encouragement Never Hurts
Encouragement and rewards can do wonders. “To encourage our son to go No. 2 on the potty, we told him that for every five times he went, he’d get a new [toy],” says Shannan Boyer of Cincinnati, Ohio. “We also purchased special soap, complete with a cartoon character on it, to encourage him and make it fun to wash his hands.”
Prusher wholeheartedly agrees. “I think parents need to be creative, patient and play up the thrill of wearing underwear,” she says. “Here, we are all about the cool factor!”
Encouragement and praise for a job well done goes great distances in little minds. “We cheer every time our son goes to the bathroom,” Boyer says. “He gets so excited and is so proud. He just beams with pride.”
Setting a Goal – and Sticking with It
Robin Nolan’s son loved using the potty but then promptly regressed at the age of 2 1/2. “We have a new baby, so suddenly our son wasn’t interested in using the potty,” says the Carson City, Nev., mom. “I told him all weekend before we started Montessori school that no diapers were allowed in school and that he had to wear big-boy pants. Guess what? He was ready. He’s been a trouper and even takes himself to the bathroom. Just picking a time and date and making it non-negotiable helps a lot.”
Going with What Works and Accepting What Doesn’t
“My younger son learned to potty train by … embracing nature,” admits Prusher. “We have a pool and while getting changed outside one day he started peeing, and we all cheered with excitement. From that minute on, every time we were outside by the pool, he wanted to pee! We ‘went with it’ for two weeks until he had the feeling down and transitioned him to the potty like the rest of the … preschoolers.”
But what works for one parent won’t for another. As with most tips, each child will respond uniquely. “One training tip that we tried that didn’t work was the placing of [circular cereal pieces] in the potty to encourage our son to ‘shoot’ them,” recalls Boyer. “He was so distraught that we were putting his favorite cereal in the toilet that he cried!”
Once your child has mastered the potty, remember that accidents are common, seasoned parents say. But there are ways you can help your child stay on the road to success.
“Once your child has made the final transition to underwear, be sure he is using the potty upon awakening, after each meal, before bed and about every couple hours during the day,” says Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and mom of two. “Some children get distracted with their activities and ignore their body urges. If your child ‘forgets’ to use the potty and has accidents, you can set a timer while he’s playing to remind him to go on a regular basis.”
And once your child responds to urges and takes a break to go to the bathroom – even while playing – then you know you’ve truly finished potty training like a pro.