#CultivateCalm Series: Potty Training Tips

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I’m still unclear if potty training was more of a milestone for Bodie or for me.  Reading “Oh Crap!” and holing up at home for a week so we were always close to the toilet felt like a rite of passage. For Bodie, we bribed our way to success and it was relatively straightforward, though his fear of pooping and the subsequent withholding drove us crazy for a solid week until it, like all else, passed. But for that one week, Bodie’s world and in turn, ours, felt rocked.

As part of our #cultivatecalm series, we’ve asked Allie from Rose & Rex to talk us through the third of the transitions in toddler-dom. And more importantly, how to go about it while maintaining calm in your family.

You can also read Allie’s #cultivatecalm guides to the other big transitions we took on this year - introducing siblings and separation/starting school. To learn more about the series and the Rose & Rex calm mind kit, head here. Good luck - we’re all learning as we go!

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If there’s one transition that requires families to #cultivatecalm, it’s potty training. Helping a child learn to use the toilet is an exciting milestone, as it leads to increased autonomy and the ability to practice self-care. That said, potty training is more than a physical transition; the process is often an emotionally trying experience for parent and toddler alike. To make this experience a bit easier, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite potty training tips….

Focus on one transition

Toddlerhood is full of awe-inspiring growth and change. From developing language to engaging in imaginative play to exploring gross-motor abilities, toddlers are constantly evolving. They also experience an abundance of transitions, as many children welcome new siblings, start new school programs, move from a crib to a bed and begin potty training.

Transitions are physically and emotionally taxing for little ones, as they must recalibrate their view of the existing world. To set them up for success with potty training, or any new endeavor, focus on giving your child the space and support to master one transition at a time.

Follow their lead

When do I start the potty training process?

While there are many different opinions out there about the ideal time to introduce your child to the potty, our best advice is to follow their lead. All children are developmentally unique, and therefore, ready for potty training at different ages.

Instead of starting the process when your child reaches a certain age, look to her to show you that she’s interested and ready. Some children express readiness through play. They may pretend to use the potty or chat with beloved stuffed animals about bathroom behavior. Others demonstrate readiness by asking questions and closely observing older siblings or adults using the toilet.

Physical cues, such as independently dressing and undressing or having a dry diaper for an extended period of time, are also signs of readiness. Once your child shows a genuine interest in any or all things bathroom-related, support her curiosity by engaging in conversation and making a potty (or child-sized toilet seat) available.

Practice patience

When a child expresses interest in sitting on the toilet, don’t let your to-do list get in the way! Sure, it can be time-consuming and frustrating to repeatedly re-diaper your child throughout the day, especially if you’re 99.9% sure that your child is either unwilling or unable to actually use the toilet.

Keep in mind that simply sitting on the toilet is a major milestone. Aside from bathtime, most children don’t play or spend extended periods of time in the bathroom, which can make the environment feel uncomfortable or off-limits.

Consider adding cozy elements like a soft bath mat on the floor and a basket of board books beside the toilet. Make yourself comfy and stay awhile! One day, you’ll smile as you look back at the time you spent reading and chatting in the bathroom together.

Read, read, read

Children are in diapers from the moment they are born. Moving away from familiar practices and routines can bring up a range of emotions, including fear. One tried-and-true way to keep the calm is to help children understand what to expect with reading.

A few of our favorites potty-friendly books include: “Potty Animals” by Hope Vestergaard, “Potty” by Leslie Patricelli and (of course!) “Everybody Poops” by Taro Gomi.

Be mindful of your language

Like all toddler transitions, potty training will inevitably have its ups and downs. It’s important to use mindful language when commenting on your child’s effort and experience.

When it comes to praise, dish it out often but be conscious to not make your child feel like their self-worth is connected to success with potty training. Try commenting on how your child seems to be feeling by saying things like “Wow you sat on the potty all by yourself, you look really proud.” By pointing out how your child seems to be feeling you are empowering him or her and supporting their independence.

Is there anything you can add to this helpful list?

Allie joins us from Rose & Rex for a three-part series on how to #CultivateCalm and ‘toddlers during transitions.’ For advice on transitioning your toddler for school separation, head here, and for thoughts on welcoming a new sibling, read this.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash