It’s Potty Time! Tips and Tricks to Ditching Diapers For Good!

When should I start potty training my child?
This is a fantastic, age-old question that doesn’t really have an exact answer. We can say that most kids are ready to start the quest to the porcelain throne between eighteen months and three years old. It’s also important to note that girls are generally ready to start potty training sooner than boys are, so take this into account when you are deciding when to begin. On average, parents usually launch into potty-training around age two and a half. Other signs that it’s time to start can vary from child to child–does he or she tell you when they’ve gone in their diaper? Does your child have a sudden interest in watching you use the restroom? Can your child follow simple commands? All of these are surefire signs that it’s time to begin!

How do I introduce my child to potty training?

There are lots of ways to introduce your child to the new concept of going to the potty. You can rely on books and videos–we really like Once Upon A Potty. With one for boys and one for girls, Once Upon A Potty walks your child through the process of potty training with clear language and gender-appropriate imagery. One mother potty trained her little boy in one week at sixteen months old with the help of the Once Upon A Potty book and DVD (both of which you can find at Target for around $12).
Another way is to explain the process to your child–odds are they’ll become fascinated with watching how it’s done from an old pro (you, of course). While it can be a little weird to pee with an audience, it also is a great way to show your little one that the potty is nothing to be afraid of!

Potty or toilet?
This one is totally up to you. Buying a practice potty or potty chair has advantages–it’s mobile and the perfect size for tiny buns; it’s familiar and can be decorated to make it an extra fun place! On top of that, some children find it less scary than the toilet, which is taller and must be flushed (which some kids find upsetting).

If you decide to go the portable potty chair route, try the Babybjorn Potty Chair–it comes in several different colors, is made of durable, safe, easy-to-clean material and will only set you back about $20 at Target, Walgreens or Toy’s R Us.
On the other hand, if you choose to potty train on the toilet, you’ll need two things–a step stool, and a smaller potty seat that fits inside the existing toilet seat (so your little one doesn’t take an unscheduled swim!). As for step stools, your options are unlimited. You can grab a Fisher Price step stool for $10, or you can hit etsy for a $45 handmade variety that has your kid’s name on it. Anything works. Potty seats are a little different–they come in tons of colors, with everything from princesses to Thomas the Tank Engine on them. You can grab a standard white one from Walmart for $10, find one with your child’s favorite superhero for just a few dollars more. Just be sure they fit your toilet!

What do we do that first day?
That first day is going to be a long one. It’s best to choose a day when you have no plans for leaving the house. Pick an easy-to-remove outfit for your little one, and put him or her in pull-ups! Let your child know what the goal is: to go in the potty every time and keep the pull-up dry! We do have a secret for you…it’s not going to happen that first day. While your child adjusts to the idea of potty training, they’re going to have accidents.
Pick several times a day to take your child to the potty–in the morning, 20 minutes after breakfast, after snack time, etc… you’re probably going to visit the bathroom probably a dozen times or so, but that’s okay! When your child does go in the potty, reward them with a sweet treat to reinforce the behavior! (Remember, gentle reminders are enough–you don’t want to hound your child. They also may not have to go every time you sit them down, and that’s perfectly fine too!)

After a few days, you can make a chart–that’s as easy as making one up on the computer and printing it out. Grab a set of character stickers (from the dollar store or Target) and let your child place a sticker on the potty chart every time they have a successful potty trip! Shoot for a weekly goal of successful trips–and watch the progress closely. At the end of the week, take your child to pick out their very first pairs of underwear as a reward! After the switch, the process will continue a little shakily for another few days or weeks–there will be accidents, so remember to pack spare everything when you go out.

What about nighttime training?
Potty training isn’t complete until your child can wake up dry! It helps to make sure that your child is well hydrated throughout the day, but also that they don’t drink anything after dinner or right before bed. At ten or eleven, gently rouse your child and escort them to the potty–remind them that they might not want to go potty right this second, but their body might want to. Repeat this process at six or seven in the morning.
Once again, expect accidents–children can wet the bed for up to a year after you begin potty training.

This is getting frustrating!
We know–it can become super annoying if your kid isn’t mastering the potty as quickly as you’d hoped. The key here is patience. We know you don’t have an endless supply, so it may help to split the responsibility between you and a spouse, babysitter, Nana, or other trusted caretaker. Remember that your child is trying–reward the successes, and don’t scold or punish the mistakes! You will get there!


Fostering Your Child’s Passion–How to Encourage Your Child to do Great Things

How can I tell what my child enjoys?

Simple–when attempting to understand your child and their personal passions, it’s important to take a backseat and listen. Observe. Is your son constantly running to the printer to grab paper and a pencil? Does your daughter take things apart to see how they work? These are little behaviors that can go almost unnoticed, but can tell a lot about what makes your child tick. So if your child always asks to help you make dinner, or has a tendency to dance like no one’s watching or puts on shows for her stuffed animals, these can be the very first clues to understanding your child.
Another way to mine for these gems is to pay close attention to your child’s studies. What do they devote most of their time to? Talking to your child’s teachers and keeping an eye on those report cards can give you a window into your kiddo’s day, and show you what subjects they tend to prefer.
Asking your child about their day at school is another great way to get some insight–what do they talk about the most? One little boy was asked every single day what he did at school, and every day, he would say “We ate lunch.”That same little boy is now showing proficiency and interest in food and cooking–he tries new foods more freely and enjoys watching cooking shows! It starts small, but these flowers bloom fast.

I have an idea of what my child is passionate about…what’s next?
After you’ve gotten a rough idea of what your child likes, it’s time to engage. You can begin asking questions like “You really seem to enjoy writing…is that true?” or “You talk a lot about this…is it something you enjoy? Would you like to do this as a grown up?” Make sure you really listen to what your child has to say–remember, you’re looking to be a partner on your child’s discovery journey, not the leader. If you find yourself marching your child down a path and correcting them about what they like and don’t like, you may want to step back and regroup. For example, if you really want your child to join little league, but he tends to enjoy staying home and drawing, don’t ignore what he loves just because it doesn’t fit your image of your son! Resist judging your child’s choices–it will only lead to a lack of communication and hurt feelings between you and your child.

We’ve narrowed down my child’s passion–how can we encourage it?

Now comes the fun part! There are tons of ways to encourage and foster what your child is passionate about. Consider taking cooking or painting classes together with your child, or helping your child use their allowance for new building set. Consider going hiking or to the zoo on a discount day for an inexpensive outing for your wild child, or just take your soccer-loving girl to the park to kick the ball around. Surprise your kiddo with a new set of paints or let them help you with dinner.
What’s more important than immersing your child in their passion is positivity. It’s natural for children to get discouraged, even when doing something they love–but rather than focusing on setbacks or offering criticism, focus on solutions. Instead of pointing out a sloppy jump shot, maybe offer to play a few pickup games with your child. Don’t allow your child to speak negatively about themselves, either–nurturing a positive self-image will boost your child’s self esteem and confidence.


My child seems to have changed course…what do I do?

Don’t panic–maybe you’ve spent the last few years paying for violin lessons or you’re up to your ears in colored pencils…and suddenly, your child wants to be a vet. That’s okay! Exploring different facets of life is important. Helping your child discover new passions is just one more exciting challenge of being a parent!
Good luck!