The right time to start is when your child has reached the necessary physical, developmental, and behavioral milestones. This often happens between ages 18-36 months, however, every child is different.
In creating the Gentle Potty Course, we felt strongly that we needed to help families prepare to potty train just as much as we had to teach about potty learning itself. Potty learning success means preparing for success, even if you aren’t going to start for a few weeks or months! Preparing your family and environment by being calm and confident contributes so much to the success of this potty training milestone. Let’s talk about 4 things to do to prepare for potty training.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR POTTY TRAINING
Get a Few Floor Potties
We recommend getting a floor potty, or even 2 or 3. Having a floor potty is more approachable for most children than a big toilet. Climbing up to a large, open, and loud toilet can be a little scary for some children. With a floor potty, your child will have quick and easy access whenever they feel the urge to use the bathroom. You can even involve your child in this process and let them pick out potties that they want.
Read Books, Sing Songs and Watch Videos About the Potty
Many books, songs, and videos about potty training can help your child form an emotional connection to the toilet learning process. With the help of your child, explore resources with one of their favorite characters, so you can show that the character also uses the potty. You can also “play” potty with their favorite stuffed animals, dolls, or superheroes. All of this can be done in a really stress-free way. Playing potty may be different than the “rigid” potty training methods you’ve read about. Playing and modeling behavior helps your child make that mental leap to connect to the potty in a gentle less intimidating way.
Practice Deep Breathing
Helping kids practice deep breathing, like deep belly breathing, is so important as your child learns to use the potty. As you probably know, it’s hard to pee or poop when you’re holding in deep breaths. If you practice this before the actual potty learning, your child will have those tools to help cope with this major change. For parents, deep breaths also help us practice more patience and remain calm during the process.
Lead By Example
Modeling potty behavior is one of the most powerful tools that you have as a parent. You don’t have to buy anything – you’re all that’s needed. This means talking more about pee and poop. Take your child to the potty with you, narrating the whole process. Say things like “I am going potty because I feel like I need to go”. Tell them how it feels when you have to go, and show them that you’re stopping what you’re doing to go. Walk and talk them through the process of pulling down your pants, using the toilet, and cleaning yourself up.
The more they know, the less scary the process will be when the time to potty train comes. It may be your habit to enjoy the bathroom alone, with 2-3 minutes of privacy. We understand that, but in the weeks leading up to starting potty training, invite them in the process with you. Be open and honest with everything about the potty from how it feels, looks, and even smells. Let your child know you’re relaxed and going potty is something you do every day.