So you’re ready to start one of the most dreaded tasks of parenting- teaching your child to use the potty. Are you excited? Nervous? Reluctant? All those feelings are so normal. I’ve heard time and time again that this is “the worst” part of parenting, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be! Before I dive into potty training methods, it’s important to remember that there are many things that can impact your experience.
The two most important things that will influence your success are:
- The readiness of yourself and your child. This is the most important thing to consider. It does not matter how “good” you are at potty training and how great your method is. If your child isn’t physically and developmentally ready, it will not go well. Now this is a BIG topic which I’m not going to dive into here, but you can find out more about the signs of readiness here.
So how do you prepare yourself? Let me tell you- potty training can be FRUSTRATING. It is so important to have reasonable expectations. Prepare yourself for how you are going to respond when your child has an accident, what you are going to do if they refuse the potty, and what you are going to say when you feel frustrated. We don’t want using the potty to become a negative experience for your child. That can lead to refusals and difficulty down the road. Depending on the method you choose, it may also be beneficial to dedicate some time to stay home and focus on your child and potty training.
- Choosing the method that is right for your family. I’m not about to endorse one method for all because every child, parent, and family are unique. Your success depends partially on choosing a method that is a good fit for you and your child’s personality.
So now let’s talk methods. There are so many different methods out there with many similarities and differences between them. You could probably fill a library with potty training books if you wanted to! Most of these popular “methods” are generally variations of two main types of potty training. To keep it simple, let’s take a look at these two types. Both of these are effective and work well with good timing and implementation.
The child led method of potty training is typically a casual approach and low stress for the child. This method has no timeline and focuses on, as the name suggests, letting the child lead. Often begins with steps to help the child feel more comfortable around the potty and learn what it is for. Eventually opportunities to use the potty for poop and pee are given, but if the if the child chooses not to use potty, that choice is respected by the parents. Choices, encouragement, and praise are used to help the child become internally motivated to learn this new skill. Rewards are not typically used. This method may take longer, and it is expected that learning may not be perfectly linear.
The parent led method of potty training is more routine based, and therefore works well for children who attend a daycare. Usually there are specific steps to follow. Often uses timers, schedules, or charts, and rewards may or may not be used. If the child is ready, this method is typically faster than the child-led method and may be better for parents who have limited dedicated time to spend on potty training. There are usually small regressions with each step, but steady improvement is more easily recognisable. Encouragement and praise are an important part of this method as well.
You may have heard of a method called the “Three Day Method” which would fall under the parent-led category. While this method may work for some children, we find that a step-based approach is more effective, because it ensures you are not moving onto the next step before your child is ready. This is important to avoid power struggles and experiences that can lead to further trouble in the future.
Often parents know immediately which method they prefer and choose to stick to that method. Sometimes parents choose to switch methods if they try one and feel it isn’t a good fit for them. That is okay! If things aren’t going well sometimes a change is needed. Remember that YOU know yourself and your child best, so don’t be afraid to follow your gut.
If you are feeling like you want some support navigating the wonderful world of potty training, or would like to learn more before beginning, check out any one of our amazing Mama Coaches. We offer our own Mama Coach Parent Led and Child Led Methods proven to work and based on science. Potty training seminars are frequently offered, or you can book a consult for an assessment, potty plan, and support.
Don’t worry mamas and papas, you got this <3