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Toilet tales: The ups and downs of potty training

Potty training tips for toddlers

Our little family recently started one of the most challenging phases of toddler-hood: potty training. We had given it a try before, with mixed results. Our son, who is now just over 3, only seemed interested in using the potty if he was in a particularly good mood or if we managed to bribe him with stickers or other treats. We weren’t consistent, and he was still perfectly comfortable running around in a soggy diaper. So, the potty training experiment stalled for a bit.

Once our son became comfortable at his school (and his teachers started urging us to start training again), we felt good about getting back into the ring. We let him choose the underwear he wanted and bought a few “potty” books to help encourage him. His teachers assured us they would be consistent at school as long as we were at home. Then, the week before, we continued to remind him that in a few days, he was going to start wearing underpants and using the potty. He let us know just how UNexcited he was about the idea of trading in his diapers for using a potty. It took some negotiating, showing him how he would be wearing underwear like daddy and even showing him how daddy uses the bathroom. We also promised him stickers.

There were accidents. Many, many accidents. For that first week, we did a load of laundry every single day, filled mostly with his wet clothes. His school sent him home each day with individual plastic baggies of soggy pants. Slowly but surely, he started getting used to it. Each trip to the bathroom meant patient encouragement while reading the story of a character heroically using the potty, followed by a choice of a new sticker to decorate his shirt.

Now, just a month or so in, he is confidently using the bathroom by himself. There is still the occasional accident, and we are still working on using big toilets away from home. We put him in a diaper at night, because he just doesn’t yet have the control to make it through the night. But the biggest challenge we still face is learning how to poop in the toilet—he still prefers to do that in his diaper.

If you are in a similar situation and are struggling to help your little guy or girl leave the diaper behind, here are some things that are working for our family:

  • Be patient.
  • Be encouraging with every small victory and supportive after every accident.
  • Load up on stickers, books and little treats to help celebrate each successful bathroom trip. Bribery works.
  • Be patient.
  • Let them choose things like their new potty or training seat, underwear and step stool. Giving them a choice will help them feel important and that they are participating in the process.
  • Take baby steps. It is not all going to magically happen at once.
  • Let them tell you when they are ready. If you try to force it, it might backfire.

Oh, and did I mention be patient?

Share your potty training moments with us! Tag pics of your potty-training toddler on Twitter or Instagram with #WalmartBaby.