Six Tips on Potty Training

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After potty training 3 times, here are some pointers I’ve collected along the way.

1. Toilet seat lips. The cute character-themed toilet seat lips are not worth the trouble. They trap urine in the crevasses, and have to be cleaned constantly to avoid making your bathroom smell like urine. You’re continually taking them off for the adults, and putting them back on for the kid. Also, where do you store those things? Mine was an eye sore in my bathroom. Storing it on the side of the toilet was usually what I did, but it was bulky and awkward. I was always worried that it was secretly dripping urine on my floor. Turns out, my 2 year old can balance perfectly on a adult-sized toilet without falling in! Skipping the toilet lip saved me a lot of hassle and messes this last time around!

2. Incentive. A little treat each time they go to the restroom will help with motivation. I think a small edible reward is a good little prize for going on the potty. I like to hand out something like Goldfish Crackers. It’s not as unhealthy as candy, but fun enough to get them excited. It’s small enough that you won’t mind giving them one each time they potty on the toilet.

3. Bare bottoms. Toddlers are more aware of their plumbing when they’re bare (or mostly bare). They will be more likely to notice the sensation of needing to use the bathroom if they don’t have diapers, or layers of clothes “padding” them from the consequences. If you go hard on this method for a few days, you could potentially have your toddler potty trained in a weekend.

4. Salty snacks and favorite drinks. Let them go crazy on their favorite salty snack. Popcorn is good, because it’s so light, and they can eat more of it. Then pump them full of fluids. Get them excited about getting their favorite drink in their favorite cup. You can do juice, milk, chocolate milk, tea; however, I never advocate kids drinking a lot of soda which lends nothing to their nutrition. Doing this is especially helpful if you are trying to potty train in a short amount of time, and you want to increase their trips to the bathroom.

5. Diapers over Pull-ups. Pull-ups are fun and cute, and a little more convenient, but they are pricey and not completely necessary. You can get the same use out of your diapers, just by fastening them slightly looser than normal. That way you can pull them up and down with ease. You can use up the rest of your diapers and save a little money by bypassing the Pull-ups.

6. The casual method. The more casual method of potty training may look like taking your toddler to the toilet whenever you have the chance, not really worrying about accidents. You keep them in their diaper all day, praising and rewarding them when they actually drop something in the toilet. This method takes longer, but is more convenient if you don’t have the opportunity to stay glued to your toddler’s side, watching him like a hawk for several days.

What are some potty-training tricks that made your potty-training experience successful?

Stop Repeating Yourself A Gazillion Times

20130421-233827.jpgWe’re usually blowing a head gasket before we realize we’ve been repeating ourselves for the last hour. It creeps up on you. You may be giving out a task to your children as you go about your business, but you don’t realize it hasn’t been completed until you pass by your child- still idle. You remind your child of the task again… and again, only to find out it’s still not accomplished. Eventually, your blood pressure rises and you find yourself asking, “WHY ARE THERE STILL TOYS ON THE FLOOR!?!”

1. Make sure your voice isn’t background noise. Put your hand on their shoulder, squat down, and look them in the eye. Once they are looking back at you, then give them direction.

2. Go for the awkward silence. After making eye contact and giving them their chore, keep looking at them and wait for them to start. They will realize that you are waiting for them to get on it, and begin to move.

3. “Yes Sir/Ma’am” Chart. I got this idea from the Duggars. That fantastic family of 19 well-behaved children. Each child gets a blank chart, and every time they respond with a “Yes, Ma’am!” or “Yes, Sir!” they get to mark an “X.” If they fill up all their boxes, they get to choose a prize out of our “prize bucket” (which I fill with dollar store treasures). This has two great effects. First, it teaches your child that beautiful phrase, “Yes, Ma’am/Sir,” and secondly, it encourages cheerful obedience.

4. Check their work. Create a habit of following up on their work. The more often you check to see if they did it right (or at all), the more often they will follow through correctly.

5. Mean what you say. Let’s admit it. We say a lot of things that we don’t really mean. Ask yourself, do you really care if they follow through or not? If it’s not that big of a deal that they pick their blanket up off the floor, communicate it that way. “I don’t really like looking at your blanket, would you mind putting it away?” But if it’s essential, choose your words differently. Use your “Please go do this now” tone sparingly. If your serious tone is overused, then it won’t be taken seriously.

6. Enforce. Name a consequence that will be given if the chore is disobeyed or ignored. Maybe a spanking, or a removal of privileges. If they don’t complete the task in the allotted amount of time, follow through with the consequence. (But remember, don’t threaten if you don’t intend to follow through!)

7. Praise generously. Nothing will motivate them to want to work hard for you like making a big deal out of their obedience. Hoop and holler, give out hugs, kisses, high fives, and loud “Well Done’s!” They will learn to take pride in their work if you are proud of their work.

The Opportunity To Sin

IMG_3323One of the most effective strategies of training my children to behave is by allowing them the opportunity to sin.

Especially when I’m busy, I find myself correcting my children, and then taking away their opportunity to sin. “Don’t touch this!” I say, then I take it away and set it on top of the shelf where they couldn’t touch it if they wanted to. It’s immediately convenient for me because I don’t want to have to deal with their disobedience. However, I’m also taking away their opportunity to practice obedience.

When I’m focused on getting stuff done, I remove my children from situations where they can get into mischief. When I’m focused on training them to obey, I let the opportunity for mischief stare them in the face. Because an opportunity to sin is an opportunity to obey. 

As my toddler attempts to topple my pile of freshly folded laundry, I tell him, “Don’t touch…” I don’t redirect his attention. And I don’t remove his temptation to destroy my hard work. I leave it all there right in front of him and wait to see what he will do. He ignores my warning and grabs the pile. He then receives the reproof- a spank on the  hand. I remind him, “Don’t touch…” and I wait. I wait to see if he’ll obey. He goes for my folded pile again, and I spank his hand a second time- a little harder. I’m ready to discipline disobedience, and ready to praise obedience. Each time he grabs the forbidden pile of laundry, he gets spanked. It’s not even about keeping my stuff orderly or completing my tasks anymore. This moment is all about training him to be a good boy, so even if it all ends with laundry strewn about, it’s worth it. Finally, he submits. He sits back in his new-found self-discipline, and leaves my laundry alone. Whew! 

There was no anger. No drama. Just training. Training them to obey by allowing them opportunities to sin.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16

Give Them Choices

148One piece of advice stood out to me when reading Parenting by the Book by Rosemond:

The parent’s job is to train their children to make good choices. 

I’ve learned to give them an array of mini-choices in their pre-school ages. I’ll give them two options, “You can wear this or that, it’s your choice.” But before I set them free to choose, I offer my advice: “If you wear this, it won’t really match, and it will look a little weird. But if you wear this, it will look very cute.” In a more serious situation, it may sound like this: “You can choose to share or not, but if you choose not to, tomorrow no one will be allowed to share with you.”

There’s limits to this freedom, of course. On picture day, I’m going to override my daughter’s privilege to choose to wear a baggy red t-shirt, pink skirt, and snow boots. But in general, feeding my children bits of age-appropriate freedom has kept them from biting at the bit, and fighting me on all my rules. It helps them realize that they are responsible for their actions, and causes them to come to us for help, which is exactly what we are hoping for.

If we can inspire them to make good choices now, then we can look forward to watching them make good choices when they are grown.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6