Potty Training, Tricks
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: Potty training was a challenge. Our daughter seemed to be laid-back and easy-going and learned new skills fairly easily. But potty training was a stop-and-start process that lasted for months.
When my daughter was around two years old, she showed interested in going to the potty, and for about two weeks, she made almost every poop in the potty. My husband and I were excited, and we bought pull-ups and encouraged her to keep trying.
Then one day, my daughter decided she would not go the potty at all no matter what. So we decided to let it go because she was still young, and we knew that we could try again later.
A few months later, we were on vacation, and so we had more 24/7 continuous time with our daughter to work on the potty training. By the end of the week, she was making almost every pee and poop in the potty. Then when we got home, she totally regressed and showed no interest in going in the “big girl potty.” A few months later, when my daughter was 2½ years old, I decided that it was time to potty train. I had another baby on the way, and I was determined to not have two kids in diapers at the same time. We used stickers to reward her when she went on the potty. Basically it didn’t work!
I had this high ideal in my head that you shouldn’t motivate kids with food, so I wasn’t going to use candy or treats to reward the potty training. Then one night at Grandma’s house, Grandma told my daughter that she could have an M&M if she went to the potty. Immediately she went to the potty and did it all on her own! We had a few days off over the holidays and we put on big girl underwear and rewarded with M&M’s and within a week she was potty-trained. It seemed like it took forever, but I think they key was finding the right thing to reward and motivate her.
—Melody Derrick, MD, a mom of a two-year-old daughter and a one-month-old son and a family physician in private practice with Cadence Physician Group, in Winfield, IL
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Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: Potty training is a huge rite of passage and also a major milestone. One of the most important things I found is that the parent has to be ready for it, perhaps even more than the toddler. Talk with friends who have kids, your pediatrician, and even your own parents to get yourself prepared.
Then when you’re ready, talk with your toddler about it. It helps to watch videos and read books to get excited about it. Make it into a family project by going together to buy the potty. Then when your toddler is ready to start using the potty, encourage him by saying things like “Big boys use the potty. You’re becoming a big boy!
—Eva Ritvo, MD, a mom of 21- and 16-year-old daughters, a psychiatrist, and a coauthor of The Beauty Prescription, in Miami Beach, FL