Kids Health: The Basics About Potty Training

Every child is different – especially during the formative 2-3 year old stage. This is in part what can make potty training a challenge. Just like numerous other aspects with raising children – There Is No One Right Way to do this. It would make everyone’s life easier if there was a manual like assembling a bi-cycle, but there is not! So I am going to do my best to give some general help-ful hints to make potty-training as stress free as possible.

The most important part of the potty-training process is to remember to give positive reenforcement. I cannot stress this enough! Your child is looking to you and picking up on cues to understand what he should be doing. He does not understand how to pee in a toilet perfectly, and it will be messy and scary sometimes for a toddler, so not stressing or yelling if they miss the toilet (it will happen – just prepare yourself in advance) and encouraging them for trying will go a long way with this milestone.

The best way to encourage your child may not be the way your sister or neighbor trained their kids. You know your child better than anyone else and you know what motivates him. Use that. For one child, clapping your hands and praising her is all the encouragement she needs. For another child, a sticker chart and rewards are the gentle push forward that he will need to be successful. It may take some creative thinking, but eventually you will find some form of motivation that works.

Prepare yourself as a parent for potty-training too. On road trips, make sure you schedule frequent potty breaks. Make sure day care is potty training at the same time. Also, be able to rush them to the bathroom with short notice! Once you mentally are ready for this task, it will help your child become more relaxed and hopefully excited about the process.

The last general recommendation I have is to have realistic expectations. You always hear from that one friend whose child was potty-trained in two days. Fantastic! I am super jealous! Chances are that will not be your experi-ence, though. It is usually a several month process, starting between 18 months and 3 years old, depending on when your child can start communi-cating in some way that they need to go potty.

Your family will survive this training – some with fewer gray hairs at the end than others! So share your child’s excitement when she sits on the potty for the first time, and hope that you will look back on the tough times during this stage and laugh about it.

Jennifer Adair M.D.

Jennifer Adair, M.D., was born and raised in Mobile. She graduated from Davidson High School in 2002 and received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at The University of Alabama in 2006. She completed her medical training at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, and pediatric residency at the University of Nevada College of Medicine – Las Vegas and the University of South Alabama. She joined Children’s Medical Group in July 2013 and currently practices at their Airport office. Jennifer and her husband, Cory, reside in Mobile with their dogs, Fitz and Barkley.

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