Potty training can be distressing for parents if your child becomes empowered and learns how to push your buttons. However, that does not mean you should be apprehensive about training your child. Quite the opposite. Train him with a thoughtful plan.

Potty training can be distressing for parents if your child becomes empowered and learns how to push your buttons. However, that does not mean you should be apprehensive about training your child. Quite the opposite. Train him with a thoughtful plan.

Understand where your child is in the process of potty training by considering his emotional readiness and his physical capability. When you decide to train, be ready to move forward, providing an unspoken expectation of success with your “Potty Training Plan.” Be sure you feel fully confident, have read material on the topic and have spoken to others who have completed the process to learn about their difficulties and successes.

I addressed commonly asked questions in previous articles. The answers to these questions can be located in the potty training section of published articles at www.yourperfectchild.com, where you also will find other articles on potty training.

Now, what are the steps to take when beginning to train?

The plan

1. Place a potty seat in the bathroom to teach your child that it is the place to go. Kitchens and family rooms may be convenient, but are not conducive to “going” and don’t teach a clear message that we “go” in the bathroom.  

2. Take your child to the potty throughout the day, empowering your child by asking “Do you want to go to the potty?” Go to the bathroom after drinks, before and after baths, before going out on errands, with consistency, making it a common experience, always keeping conversation light and showing indifference if he doesn’t go.

3. Talk about diapers being uncomfortable, smelly, and causing hurtful rashes. Name friends and family who use the potty. Avoid saying “diapers are for babies,” as young children want to be babied and taken care of, and may interpret your statement as a reason to stay in diapers.  Avoid “You’re such a big boy, and big boys don’t use diapers.” This implies he should be ready, and may cause guilt if he’s not. Guilt does not teach. Guilt can make him feel angry or resentful, providing a reason to wet or withhold.

4. Read potty books and choose fun, colorful underwear which serves as an incentive and basis for conversation.  

5. Help your child shake his dirty diaper or underwear into the toilet to be flushed, showing him where it goes.

6. Have him flush.

A few tricks

Are there any tricks to make it fun for my child? Definitely!

Fill a special, brightly colored basket with wipes, diapers, pull-ups, underwear, socks, sweat pants, potty books and favorite theme books to be placed near the potty.

Offering choices of which underwear to wear (or even a pull-up) can help in the transition. When a child thinks they are in control, they are often more compliant and successful.

Also, for boys who are ready to stand at the toilet, suggest he throw in a piece of toilet paper to aim at. Words like “Ready, aim, fire!” can make it fun, and therefore successful.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio. Send your child-rearing questions to familymatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources, along with links to all of her columns, at www.yourperfectchild.com.