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5 Things To Consider When Potty Training

(this post originally appeared on the Let's Be Brave blog)

Potty Training. My very favorite thing to do as a parent. Except the opposite of that. It is my very least favorite thing to do as a parent. I dreaded it all four times, and I won't lie.... neither time did I ever like it. But, I have survived the experience four times now and have learned some things I think it's important to consider when potty training....

WHO - I think it is really important to know your kid well and think about WHO it is you are potty training. Think through how he learns best and what his personality is like. Every child is different and potty training can look different for different personalities. I talk often about how different my four and their personalities are and potty training for them was no exception. It was really different for each of them. So remember WHO it is you are training.

WHAT - Think about what motivates your child and what his learning patterns are. What ways does he best learn and what is the best way to communicate with him. Two of my four were SUPER motivated by rewards. So we stuck consistently with the rewards for them because they worked. They REALLY wanted that m&m. My oldest loved to read books so much that we pretty much just spent two weeks in the bathroom reading while she waited to potty.... just when I was about to lose my mind, it clicked in her and she rarely had another accident.

WHEN - This is the magic question..."When is the right time to potty train"? It can be really difficult to answer that because it can be different from child to child. People say if you start too early it can have adverse effects but then they also warn you not to "miss the window". I have found with my boys they did better when older and closer to 3 than 2 and it was pretty hard to "miss the window"My encouragement is to watch for the readiness signs, but also don't overly stress about it either. The more relaxed I was about it, the better it went.

WHERE - Decide where you want them to use the potty. In a child potty? Or a seat on the big potty? Do you want them to stand or sit? One tip I received from a friend who had boys was to have the boys sit backwards on the potty. This greatly helped the messes. We are pretty flexible on this point in our house. Honestly, my thinking is wherever, however as long as it's in a potty.

HOW - Finally, decide what method you want to use. We loosely follow the guidelines in the Toddlerwise book. But it has looked different from kid to kid. Deciding how hard-core or relaxed you want to be will help you determine your expectations for the process. I will say the more "hard-core", "boot camp" style, can warrant faster results, but it can also add to the stress of the process. This is why it is really important to remember your child's personality and even how your family best works and processes.

If you are in the trenches of potty training, I just want to remind you of one last thing.... I promise they won't go to college still wearing diapers. There is an end date. In the mean time, reward yourself with some m&m's and maybe a glass of wine along the way, and trudge forward. It will be over one day! Cheers!

You can find some more tips and details for how my I potty trained my kids here: Potty Training Survival Tips.

One thing I do actually love learning about and writing about are my kids different personalities. You can read a little bit more about that here: Loving Your Kids Different Personalities.


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