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Even if your child seems ready, experts say to avoid potty training during transitional or stressful times. If you're moving, taking a vacation, adding a new baby to the family, or going through a divorce, postpone the potty training until about a month after the transitional time. Children trying to learn this new skill will do best if they're relaxed and on a regular routine. You might prefer to get potty training over with as soon as possible—maybe you're curious about the 3-day potty training trend.
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That's fine, experts say, but not if it becomes too frustrating. When kids are truly ready, they often will just start going on the potty on their own. Keep a well-lit path to the bathroom so your child feels safe and comfortable walking there during the night. Of course, if you think you're child isn't ready for a big-kid bed or, let's face it, if you're not ready , there's no harm in keeping her in diapers at night for a while longer. Talk to your child's doctor about the best time to potty train your child; the answer will range greatly by child, though most kids should be out of diapers during the day by age 3.
Then create a schedule: You might want to have him sit on the potty every two hours, whether he has to go or not, including first thing in the morning, before you leave the house, and before naps and bedtime. Tell him to remove his shorts or pants first, his underwear or, if you're using them, training pants next, and to sit on the toilet for a few minutes allot more time, if you think he has to poop.
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Read him a book or play a game, like 20 Questions, to make the time pass in a fun way. Then, whether or not he actually goes potty, instruct him to flush and wash his hands. Of course, always praise him for trying. It's not uncommon for a child who has been successfully using the potty for a few days to say he wants to go back to diapers. To avoid a power struggle or a situation where your child actually starts a pattern of withholding bowel movements, which can lead to constipation, you might agree to a brief break.
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There are some stressful or difficult times when you may want to put off starting the toilet-teaching process — when traveling, around the birth of a sibling , changing from the crib to the bed, moving to a new house, or when your child is sick especially if diarrhea is a factor. It may be better to postpone it until your child's environment is stable and secure. Also, while some experts recommend starting the process during summer because kids wear less clothing, but it is not a good idea to wait if your child is ready.
Of course, teaching a toddler to use the potty isn't an overnight experience.
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The process often takes between 3 and 6 months, although it may take more or less time for some children. And although some little ones can learn to both make it through the night without wetting or soiling themselves or the bed and use the potty around the same time, it may take an additional month to even years to master staying dry at night. If you choose the modified toilet seat, consider getting a stepping stool so that your child can reach the seat comfortably and feel stable and supported while having a bowel movement.
It's usually best for boys to first learn to use the toilet sitting down before learning to pee standing up. For boys who feel awkward — or scared — about standing on a stool to pee in the toilet, a potty chair may be a better option.
Buy a training potty or seat for every bathroom in your house. You may even want to keep a potty in the trunk of your car for emergencies. When traveling long distances, be sure to take a potty seat with you and stop every 1 to 2 hours. Otherwise, it can take more time than your child may have to find a discreet location or restroom. The more emotional you are, the more it shows your child how much it matters to you that he use the potty.
It is also very important not to force your child to use the potty because it can cause intense power struggles.
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These power struggles sometimes lead to children trying to regain control over their bodies by withholding urine or bowel movements. This can create physical problems, like constipation.
So if you are starting to see power struggles developing over potty training, it might help to take the pressure off. Stop talking about potty training or doing anything about it for a little while, until your child shows signs of readiness and interest again. Many parents wonder about offering rewards for using the potty—a sticker, an extra sweet, or a little toy every time their child is successful on the toilet. The other risk is that the use of rewards for toileting can lead children to expect rewards for doing almost anything—finishing a meal, brushing teeth, etc.
It Takes a Village
Occasionally, children have physical issues that make potty training more difficult, so a check-up is always a good idea. You may also want to sit down with a child development specialist who can help you figure out what the challenges around potty training might be for your individual child and can help you identify toilet learning strategies that might be more successful. Anticipatory guidance with a child-oriented approach. From Baby to Big Kid: All About Learning to Use the Toilet. Skip to main content Skip to footer.
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