By Jodie Lynn
I am not a fan of potty training children early. In the ten years I have been helping parents with potty training, I have never known even one who was completely toilet trained when starting before the age of three. This means never having to wear a diaper or pull ups when going to bed or taking a nap -- and the most crucial test of all, waking up dry after 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Those parents that say that their kids are trained usually regress sometimes before the age of five, especially if it has been a stressful and frustrated training.
Spanking, yelling and threatening always backfires. If a parent pulls a power play, the child will become absorbed in the unnecessary battle and become overwhelmed. Stress rises to a new, yet negative level. Unfortunately, for parents, the kids win on this one. They can use potty in the potty or potty in the underwear as a powerful tool resulting in negative retaliation creating major challenges in switching back and forth from potty training, poor eating habits and mood swings.
Using food as a reward is not a way to entice toddlers into becoming potty trained.
In fact, this can lead to harmful eating habits as well as using food for emotional satisfaction.
Here are a few tips that have seemed to work for others.
1. Concentrate on potty training only. Don't make it hard on kids but you will have to watch them almost every minute. Do not go anywhere with them for two weeks unless you can take the potty with you.
2. Use stickers as a reward. Let them pick out the stickers at a store.
3. Wrap up small gifts found as rewards after each time they successfully go to the bathroom. Children love to open presents. Put them inside a big box and let them choose the one they want to open. Rewrap them. That's right. Use them repeatedly. After they begin to get potty trained, tell and show them there are only six presents left and then, "they'll be all gone." Each time you let them open one, say, "Look, there's only 5 more left, but we have stickers," -- or whatever else you'd like to use.
4. Do not use food as a reward. Sweets, candy, or any type of food is not good for a positive reward system at this age. It will only leave them anticipating food as rewards for other accomplishments and could lead to eating disorders later in life.
5. After each successful potty trip, clap and say, "Whoohoo. You are such a big boy/girl! Good job!" Go call someone and share the news. Let the child tell them what a good job that they did. This only reinforces positive experiences for potty training.
6. Make up a calendar with tons of pictures of your child on it. Make the days of the week large squares to have plenty of room for the stickers. Let your child put up a big star each time he/she goes to the potty on that specific day.
7. Put Cheerios in the toilet and let the boys aim at them. Since they are a little more difficult to potty train, there are other incentives on today's market to attract little boys to the potty. Check at your favorite store for such tools.
8. Buy many books during clearance sales. Keep a box of books by the potty. If possible, read a page or two or share a picture book. Read one or two books, if your little one needs to go number two.
9. Monitor food and liquid intake. Take your child to the potty on a schedule. You will have to watch the clock to monitor food and drink intake. Cut out liquids two hours before bedtime and no caffeine -- ever.
10. Ship your precious little one off to grandmas or an aunt's house, if things get too hairy. Sometimes, other folks can potty train our children better than we can. If you have a relative who is willing to help and your kiddo won't "walk the plank" for you, let someone else try. You might be surprised how quickly the job will be completed.
Above all else, let the child show and tell you when he is ready. It may not be the calendar timing you'd like to follow, but the frustration is just not worth the repercussions.
Remember, accidents will occur at the least expected time. Stay cool and anticipate it as part of parenthood - this too shall pass.
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