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Potty Email Series Issue1234

Preparing Your Child for Potty Training

If you think, but aren't certain, your toddler has the ability and understanding to start potty training (see ​our previous email regarding the behavioral skills and signs to look for), don't plunge right in without first doing a little prep work.

Remember, potty chairs and toilets may be unfamiliar or look scary to your child and cause some degree of stress. To relieve any anxiety and set your child up for success, follow the "P":

  • Parent modeling
    As described in our previous email, allowing your child to go with you or your spouse to the bathroom and see how to use the toilet properly (modeling) is a learning opportunity. It's a chance for your child to see what will be expected of him. Like anything else, kids learn a lot by watching others.
  • Potty chair
    Give your child a chance to get used to and comfortable with the potty chair. Set it out and let her sit on it, name it and put stickers on it. Let her know it's her special throne, and it's not for Mom or Dad.
  • Practice
    Provide time for sitting on the potty chair. This is "play" practice, so your child can keep his clothes on (although it may be a good idea to test how well he manages to pull down his pants and underwear). Just be prepared for the possibility that he may do a little "method acting."

Teaching Activity

Positive Pep Talks with Some Practice

Plant the seed for why going to the bathroom properly ​is so important before plopping your little one on a potty chair and saying go. Do some pre-teaching in the days leading up to potty training to help ease your child into the process so the situation is more familiar and less alien. Also, have daily pep talks about potty training. Congratulate your child on becoming a "big" boy or girl who's ready to learn what other "big" boys and girls do. You also might want to use children's books (some feature popular characters from Sesame Street) to show how potty training is done. Anything you can do to get your child excited will get you off on the right foot.

In addition, use your chats to have your child practice how to dress and undress, specifically, pulling pants and/or training diapers up and down. It's a great time to reinforce this important step for going to the bathroom. The more preparation you do at the beginning, the more success you'll have at the end. And as always... be enthusiastic and make it fun!

Social Skills

Asking for Help

Another way to set your child up for success is to teach her how to ask for help when she needs to go to the bathroom. This skill can reduce the number of messy accidents you have to deal with inside and outside the bathroom. Of course, the ultimate goal of potty training is for your child to go without you. But until she has successfully mastered the skill, you can boost her confidence and ease any uncertainty by letting her know help is available if she simply asks for it.

When it comes to asking for help, teach your child to follow these steps:

  • Look at you - Mommy or Daddy.
  • Ask you if you have time to help
  • Say - "I need to go potty."
  • Say - "Thank you for helping."

Asking for help is a fundamental skill and one that serves all children well during the training ​process and as they grow older and start school.

Coming up in Issue 3

Let's Get This Potty Started


Prime the Pump


Managing Stress

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