Let’s face it, potty training is daunting. Lot’s of parents don’t even have a clue as to where to start. Well, you’ve stumbled on to the right page! Before I was a stay-at-home mama, I was a behavior therapist and a nanny for years. I have potty training down to a science. I’m going to share my secrets with you!
(Every child is different, of course! There is no “right” age to potty train a child. You do what feels right for your family!)
Disclaimer: It’s going to be kind of tough the first couple days. This is potty training bootcamp. But know that this method WORKS- as long as you remain consistent!
What you’ll need:
– Lots of reinforcers. Ideas for tangible reinforcers : play-dough, moon sand, water colors, puzzles, small surprise toys. For going #2, use highly desired reinforcers, such as TV time, the iPad, M&Ms, ice cream, anything you can think of that they REALLY, REALLY want. Be sure to ONLY give them access to the reinforcer according to your contingencies. No exceptions. For example, if you’re using the iPad as a reward for going #2, remove all access during this potty training time and only let your child have it if they go #2.
– Glass of wine for you because you might need it
This is going to be the longest day, so HANG IN THERE!
Ideally, you’ve prepped your child a week in advance with tons of excitement involving going potty. Make it a big day! It’s special! (And bittersweet as a parent. Why must they grow up so quickly?!) Prepping beforehand also gives you some time to agree upon reinforcers that you will be giving to your kiddo for using the potty. (There’s this super cool sticker book that you can order off of Amazon. My kids went nuts over it 🙂 You can find it here.)
Wake up, go straight to the potty. Set the timer for 5 minutes. If they go potty, CELEBRATE!!!!! If not, it’s cool. Go do your thing, set the timer for 20 minutes, go back when the alarm goes off and try again for 5 minutes.
Give your little one lots of liquids so they go potty!
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Every 20 minutes, go back to the bathroom. 5 minutes on, 20 minutes off until bedtime.
When your kiddo goes potty, seriously go wild. Tickle them, cheer, clap, sing, make sure they see how happy you are! When they go #2, take it up a notch throw the best 30-second poopy party they’ve ever seen!
Important: Present the reinforcer immediately after they go potty. Don’t let a lot of time pass. As soon as they wash their hands, hand them that bowl of ice cream, or whatever you’re choosing to use. This is pertinent to successful training.
Accidents happen. They’re BOUND to happen during this time. Do not reprimand if they have an accident. Just clean up and head to the potty and start the timers over. Don’t give it attention, just act neutral.
Reason for this: behavior is maintained because something is reinforcing it. That goes for any kind of behavior: welcomed or not. That being said, some children have a harder time potty training and will “act out” by having accidents off of the potty. This could be a method of attention-seeking. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad; attention is attention. So, don’t give it attention. Just go back to the potty and continue with the plan.
Wake up, go straight to the potty. Stay on for 5 minutes, off for 20. Give reinforcers just like you did the day before.
Begin to add time during each break as you see fit. I have found the best success adding 5 minutes. So, 20 minutes off, then 25, 30, 35, 40, etc. I stop at an hour and a half between toilet visits. Again, every kiddo is different, and it’s really a judgement call for your maximum break time.
If you find that they begin to have accidents after a break time adjustment, go back to the previous time allotment. If 45 minutes is too long, go back to 40 or 35 minutes. Remember to continue to give them as many liquids as they can comfortably have.
Every time your child originates to you that they have to go potty, give them a reinforcer, too! That’s what we want. Yay! Independent toddlers!
This is up to you. Some parents choose to use pull-ups at night, some just use a waterproof bed cover. I’ve found that usually kiddos will naturally stop wetting during the night after 4-7 days of this potty training regimen. I’d be sure to stop giving too many liquids after 6PM. Remember to go straight to the potty upon waking up.
After this 2-day-training, continue to validate your mini-me for going potty on their own. Maintain good habits. Just with anything else, you have to practice and keep it up so there are no set-backs! Stick to this plan, mama, as tough as it may be! You got this!
Did you try this method?? Please let me know how it went for you in the comments below!
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