Make no mistake, potty training can be a stressful time in any parents’ life. New parents may be overwhelmed by all the conflicting advice they receive and the task at hand. Parents with other children might think they’ve got it down – only to find that their child is reacting completely differently to potty training than their other children.
Of course, potty training is something every child must go through, and we always get there in the end. However, there are certain things a parent can do to make the road smoother – and certain things they should not do.
It’s easy to make mistakes when child-rearing, especially if it’s your first child. So, let’s take a look at some common potty-training mistakes.
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Starting Too Early
The average age for potty training is 2.5 years old. It may take the child up to 5 years old until they’re fully potty trained, night and day. Every child is different, and it’s important to keep an eye out for when your child is ready.
Starting too early with potty training is absolutely pointless. If it’s too soon for your child, their bodies physically are not ready for bowel and bladder control. Early potty training is a recipe for disaster and can leave you frustrated, and your child upset and confused.
The initial weaning of your child out of diapers and onto the potty can be done in around three days, presuming you go about it correctly. How can you tell if your child is ready? There are certain signs to keep an eye out for:
- Your child tells you when they need to pee or poo.
- Your child is uncomfortable with a wet or dirty diaper.
- Their diapers are dry for an hour or two at a time.
- They understand when they’re peeing or pooping and may even go somewhere quiet.
If your child is displaying some or all of these signs, it could be time to potty train.
Punishing Your Child for Accidents
For us as adults, bowel and bladder control is second nature. Our bodies have learnt the skills needed to control ourselves, and we never even think twice about it.
It can be frustrating when our children struggle to learn. This can be especially annoying for parents with several children, if an older child learned quickly and a younger child does not. We may seem to be making progress, only for our child to have an accident later on.
It’s vital to resist the urge to punish your child for accidents. Punishments can make potty training seem like something horrible, that your child will dread, and that will set back their progress.
Remember, accidents are going to happen, likely even after your child is trained. Stay calm and set them on the potty if they have accidents. Remind your child to tell you next time they have to go. Getting angry only makes potty training more emotional and more difficult. In the long run, you’ll be making the situation worse for yourself.
Of course, staying calm is more different if you’re dealing with a stubborn 4-year-old boy! In some cases, you simply can’t wait until your child is ready, as they’re going to start school. No child wants to start school in diapers!
If your child is struggling to learn, perseverance is key. Don’t get frustrated, and don’t force the issue. Try and make potty time fun with games, books, and toys. A reward system often works, but if your child is stubborn, you may need something more motivating than a sticker!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, either from close friends or family members.
Leaving the House During Potty Training
For the best potty-training results, it’s best to clear a space of around 3 days. Then you throw away all the diapers in your house (to prevent caving later on!) and stick it out.
However, for the 3-day method to work, you need time to focus on your task. Suddenly taking off your child’s diapers and letting them run around means accidents. You’ll need to keep a close eye on your child. As you can imagine, if you’ve planned an outing or you have somewhere to go, it can be easy to give in and put a diaper on your child just for a few hours.
However, this can undo all the good you’ve done so far.
Being inconsistent will get your child confused. This is tied in with leaving the house during potty training. If you expect your child to go in the potty but occasionally put them in diapers and go out, don’t expect them to learn very quickly.
Remember, potty training is something new to your child. They may not understand what you want or why. Consistency is key, especially for the vital first three days. For example, if you’re following the 3-day training method, the first day is going to be chaos. Your child is running around without a diaper on, so of course they’ll be accidents! You need to keep an eagle eye on them. The second and third days should be a little easier, but it depends on your child.
To remove temptation, it’s good to get rid of all the diapers you have in the house. You can even get your child involved in throwing them out, so that they can understand what’s happening.
Once all the diapers have gone, you’re committed – and so is your child!
Taking too Long to Train
Dragging out potty training for weeks or even months is no good. While each child differs in how quickly they learn, it’s important to be consistent. When potty training takes too long, it could be because you’re not staying consistent. Perhaps you’re putting diapers on your child when you go out, or when you can’t be bothered with the mess and stress of accidents.
This isn’t going to help your child understand what you want from them. Sooner or later, it’s time to take the plunge and throw away the diapers.
Pull ups aren’t necessarily a no-no. As a kind of half-way point between diapers and underwear, pull ups can be a handy tool for a young child. They can also be good for night-time potty training, since it will take longer for your child to learn to hold their bladder overnight than during the day.
However, using pull ups during the day can confuse your child. They’re also expensive and can cause potty training to drag on longer than necessary.
Sitting too Long on the Potty (or not long enough!)
Forcing your child to sit longer on the potty than they need to can also cause problems. If your child is uncomfortable or unhappy, they’re less likely to go in the potty. However, not having your child sit long enough is also going to cause problems!
The best way to get around this to keep an eye on your child’s toilet schedule. For example, after a meal or after a drink, your child is probably going to need the toilet. Sit them on the potty then. Alternatively, try and keep your child entertained while they’re sitting on the potty.
Negativity towards Potty Training
It’s hard to be enthusiastic about your child going to the toilet. However, it’s important not to make your child feel ashamed or nervous about using the potty. Using words like “dirty”, “bad”, “stinky” and so on might not feel like a big deal to you, as an adult, but your child may feel as if they’re doing something wrong.
In turn, this can make them even more reluctant to use the potty. Remember to reward the behavior you want to see, instead of punishing the behavior you don’t want.
Potty Training during a Stressful Time
Children are very sensitive to a home’s vibes. While it’s important to start potty training when your child is ready, picking a bad time is only going to complicate matters. Try to avoid potty training during a time of stress or change.
This includes good change, such as planning for a vacation or welcoming the arrival of a new baby.
Not Working Together with Other Family Members
Many parents get help with caring from their children from other family members, often their parents in particular. This is great for you and for you child, but it can cause issues in some areas.
For example, say you’ve decided to go with the 3-day potty training method. This is going to be messy but will pay off in the long run. Make sure the whole family are on the same page with your decision. Days of work can be ruined by a well-meaning grandparent putting your child in diapers for a few hours.
If your family members aren’t willing to work with you on this, it might be easier to keep them away from your child until the hard work of potty training is done.
In conclusion, there are plenty of mistakes you can make when potty training. However, you know your child best. Each child is an individual and learns differently. You can do it!