potty training tipsPotty training is a big step and can be stressful for both children and parents. While there is no secret to success, timing and patience play a big role in achieving this major milestone. Here are a few tips for making the process successful.

Timing is Everything Potty training hinges on interest, along with physical and emotional readiness, not age. Most children begin to show interest in potty training between ages two and two and a half. It is important to look for signs indicating your child is ready to ditch the diapers. Signs that they are ready can include interest in the bathroom or in wearing underwear, ability to convey their need to use the bathroom, dry diaper periods of two hours during the day or complaining and wanting to be changed immediately if they are wet or dirty.

If your child is showing these signs, they could be ready for potty training. However, you may consider waiting to begin the process if big changes are in their future, such as the arrival of a new sibling or a move.

Prepare the Equipment Purchase your child a bright, shiny new potty, especially for them and place it in the bathroom or in the room they spend the most of their time. Introduce your child to the potty and have them practice sitting on it, both with and without a diaper.

Schedule Potty Breaks Stop your activities throughout the day for potty breaks. Simply have your child sit on the potty without a diaper several times a day. Stay with your child when he or she is in the bathroom, even if they are just sitting. Praise your child for trying and encourage them to try again later in the day.

Head to the Bathroom When your child starts squatting, squirming or holding themselves, drop everything and head to the bathroom. Continue to praise your child for letting you know that he or she needs to use the restroom. Teach girls to wipe properly, from front to back and when it is time to flush, always let them move the handle.

Deliberate on Incentives Some parents will tell you that incentives made the difference when it came to successful potty training. Others will tell you candy shouldn’t be an incentive. Whether you use stickers or candy as incentives, it is important to praise your child and remind them that they are such a big kid.

Dump the Diapers Celebrate that your child is now a “big kid” and trade the diapers for big kid underwear. After the transition to underwear, avoid dressing your child in leotards, overalls or belts, as it could hinder their potty process.

Accidents Happen Potty training is filled with accidents. It is important to periodically remind your child to use the bathroom, especially when they are involved in activities. When accidents happen, stay calm and remind them what needs to happen next time. Be prepared for an accident and keep extra underwear and clothing on hand, especially at day care.

Potty training is a big milestone for children and parents alike. The process is not completed over night and requires a lot of patience, but in time your child will be using the potty like a big boy or girl.