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Potty Training Tips For Reluctant Toddlers


a young mother trains her daughter to use the potty outdoor

The first day of preschool looms and your toddler still hasn’t shown any interest in the child-sized potty you brought out just for him. The fact that many of his peers have already embraced superhero underwear doesn’t seem to matter. Even letting him run around in a dirty, heavy diaper has no effect.

How do you potty train a reluctant toddler?

Is Your Child Really Ready?
Unfortunately, not all children mature at the same rate, and that rate may not sync with the preschool cut-off dates. Before you make potty training a battlefield, consider making sure that he or she has the physical capacity.

  • Is your child dry for hours at a time?
  • Is your child capable of following one- or two-step instructions?
  • Is your child showing awareness of urination or bowel movements?

If you answer yes to all of the above, your child is physically ready to be potty trained.

Clear The Decks And Get Serious
To completely potty train your child may take some time, especially in regards to overnight dryness. But to start out, it’s wise to set aside a good week to concentrate exclusively on the task at hand. It may even be worth taking a few days off work to concentrate your efforts.

To prepare for that week, make sure you’ve got all the tools.

  • Take your child on a shopping trip so she can pick out new underwear
  • Buy a potty that she likes to “ride.”
  • For boys, consider purchasing tinkle toys to encourage good aim
  • Put the event forth as special time between you and your toddler
  • Hide the diapers, and consider telling your child that the store has run out of them
  • Prepare for messes
  • Set up a reward system using stickers, quarters in a jar, or small treats

Note that if you’ve got something stressful going on in the family, such as a new move or a new baby, you may want to wait until the dust settles before you begin.

Getting Down To Business

Start off by setting up a routine of potty “visits” such as in the morning, just before bed, and after meals. Provide your toddler with toys or video games if necessary to keep him or her sitting still. You may just get lucky and catch a movement, which your toddler will find fascinating.

If the weather cooperates, allow your child to play outside without bottoms. This will increase his or her awareness of his bodily functions. Play the “Can you catch it in the potty?” game and applaud successes. Most importantly, shrug off accidents. They’re going to happen.

Choose Your Battles
If your child exhibits strong negative reactions to potty training, consider backing off and waiting a few months. Toddlers go through periods of development where control becomes a big issue. You don’t want to make potty training a battleground.

Toddlers mature at a startling rate, and you may find that holding off means an easier transition a few months down the line.

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