Does your family say doo doo or poopie? Tinkle or wee wee? Or do you use more formal words for what happens in the bathroom like urinate and have a BM? The words your family chooses are up to you.
But what’s important as you start exploring how to potty train is establishing a consistent way to talk about what your child will be experiencing. Read on for some things to consider as you figure out how to talk to a toddler in the bathroom.
Others disagree, saying that part of the joy of raising children is the silliness — including the crazy kitchen dances we do and the unique words that make up our family traditions. Using silly words can help make sometimes tedious and challenging care-taking tasks, like helping a small child use the toilet, a lot more fun for both parent and child.
So choose what feels right. The more natural the words are for you, the more comfortable your child will feel.
Tone Is What Really Matters
So go ahead and use whatever reasonably appropriate names you want for body parts and functions — all the better if your child helps to create them. Toddler potty training is a collaboration between you both, after all!
Collaborating with Caregivers
Think About Your Child’s Personality
- Eager-to-please. These kids are naturally energetic and do well with praise. They thrive on positive feedback and are incentivized by rewards. When potty training, they’ll want to do things the right way and will be thrilled to know you’re proud of them. The “Can You Do What I Do?” game works really well with these kids. When talking about potty training, try potty training phrases like these:
- “I’m going to the potty. Want to keep me company?”
- “Let’s go to the park. But first, everyone has to go to the potty.”
- Shy. Shy kids are likely to feel most comfortable using the potty where there’s an established routine such as at school or in their home. They’re less comfortable in new settings. With a shy child, it’s important to be more casual as you introduce a potty. Let them lead the way, and give them as much time as needed to adjust. If you’re too pushy, they might retreat. Here are a few things you can say:
- “Hey, want to try flushing the toilet, just for fun? Let’s see what happens when it swooshes.”
- “Try sitting backwards on the big potty — facing the tank. That will help you feel safer.”
- High-energy. These kids are always on the go — and taking time to stop and try the potty can sometimes be a challenge. If you have a high-energy kid, keep your discussions about the potty short and skip the details. Make sure you create a fun atmosphere in the bathroom so your toddler stays engaged. You could start by trying statements like these:
- “Race you to the bathroom! Potty time!
- “Let’s sing a silly song about potties while you wait for the poop to come out.”
- Cautious. Toddlers with a cautious personality notice everything around them and want to know the details. With a cautious child, it’s important to explain how the toilet works and what to expect. Your child might even want to teach someone else what they’ve learned. Cautious children will have high expectations for themselves, so it’s important to help them be flexible and appreciate their successes. Use specific, thoughtful words such as:
- “Next time you poop in the potty, which kind of animal cracker will you pick for your treat?”
- “Want to show your stuffed animal how you’re using the Big Kid potty?
- Free-spirited. Kids who are free spirited would much rather be playing and exploring than patiently sitting on the potty. With this personality, it’s important to make sure your child is ready before you introduce the idea of potty training. Then, when you’re both ready, make sure potty time is fun. You’ll probably have to remind your toddler to flush and wash their hands, but eventually they’ll remember the details. Keep words like these in mind:
- “Time to use the potty! When you’ve tried, you can go outside to play!”
- “Let’s create a cheer we can do together each time you pee or poop in the potty.”
Remember that whatever words you choose, it’s important to keep them consistent and keep the conversation open so you and your toddler feel comfortable talking about this important journey. Now fingers crossed you don’t accidentally say “I need to make a poopie” when excusing yourself from a table full of grownups!