There is no greater challenge for a toddler, or for Dad, than using the potty for the first time.
Whether you‘re worried it’s taking them a bit too long to grasp the method or afraid mastery of the immortal bowl is nothing but a pipe-dream, there’s no doubt potty training can be a stressful time for the entire family.
If anything is for certain, it’s that ‘potty prodigies’ are a myth and studies suggest kids who are trained before they are ready can experience problems during their adult years. In the frantic chaos of dealing with their ‘accidents’, it can be too easy to forget we were all in their shoes once.
Children develop at their own speed and keeping calm while they learn can be a huge challenge for parents. With this in mind, we asked ten FQ readers to share their special toilet-training tips.
Don’t push it
“The big lesson we learnt from potty training our first child is not to push them into it before they’re ready. I think we were a bit too eager for Bradley to be using the potty and we constantly had to remind him to go and what to do. We waited a bit longer with our youngest and had no problems with her, partly I think because, being that bit older, she was ready for it. So my advice is not to rush it. Does it really matter if they take a bit longer to get to grips with it?”
Mike, 32, dad to Bradley, 5 and Daisy, 3
Let them copy
“Our first child took to using the potty like a duck to water (though we did have to use a few treats as a special incentive at the beginning) but our second child was much more difficult. He just wouldn’t go near it. Remarkably, we caught him on it one afternoon, entirely of his own accord. It turned out that whilst we couldn’t train him to use it, his brother had much more success and he had been showing his brother what to do. If you have more than one, it’s always great if they can encourage each other rather than you having to do it all the time. David might not want to be reminded about exactly who taught him to use the loo when he’s older though!”
Damian, 35, dad to Daniel, 5 and David, 4
“If you’re expecting all your kids to follow the same pattern when it comes to toilet training you can forget it! Our daughter had no problems using the potty and was what you might call an early adopter! Adam, on the other hand, was completely different. He was much older than his sister when he was ready for the potty and while you could get him on it, getting him to do anything once he was there was a different matter. We got there in the end but it was quite difficult process second time around. I guess everyone’s different and you just have to persevere. We all get there in the end after all – or there’d be a lot of adults still wearing nappies, right?”
Patrick, 30, dad to Melissa, 4 and Adam, 6
Get them to holler!
“Getting our kids to use the potty in the daytime was fairly easy – getting them to use it if they wanted to go in the night was much more difficult and there were quite a few accidents. We encouraged Amber-Lou to shout for us if she woke up and needed to go and we’d get up and help her. For some reason, though, she was often reluctant to do that so we gave her a little horn to hoot and she actually loved that. We left the potty by the bed and that helped as did making sure she hadn’t had too many drinks before bedtime. My main advice though would be to be calm when things don’t go right and not get frustrated – it’s a learning process for them and for you. You both get there in the end.”
Mick, 29, dad to Amber-Louise, 6
Dress to impress
“This isn’t my tip – it’s from my wife, who learnt it from her girlfriends, all of whom are mums. If you have a daughter put her in dresses during the early stages of potty training. It makes getting ready to go to the loo much easier and quicker. It’s much less hassle when she suddenly decides she needs to go in an awkward moment too because there’s less fussing and fiddling all round.”
Mark, 26, dad to Tasha, 3
FQ’s Product Tip:
Finding a product to help with their potty training can be difficult, but the brand new Jahgoo WeePot is definitely going to be a talking point amongst parents. A toilet trainer designed especially for boys, the WeePot is a temporary urinal that helps with the tricky task of learning to stand up when going to the toilet.
We all know not being able to reach the toilet is a common problem for boys, making it hard for them to master the process, but the WeePot provides an easy to use solution. It can be fixed to any non-porous surface at exactly the right height and in terms of work involved, there’s no need for a drill as the urinal attaches with a clever suction cup.
Easy to empty and clean, the WeePot simply unhooks and can be rinsed out before being placed back on, whilst the urinal can also be moved upwards as the child grows and then removed when it’s no longer needed.
The stylish and ergonomic design is also a definite plus in our eyes, as it means boys will hopefully see the whole process as a lot cooler, offering plenty of encouragement. It’s also worth mentioning that the WeePot makes a handy introduction to using public urinals, preparing them for a life of visting the ‘Gents’!
Give them control
“We let Lily-Jo choose her own potty – she went for a pink fairy one – and we left it in the bathroom for her to get used to it. I think that helped when it came to explaining to her what it was for and what she needed to do because it wasn’t some strange thing that had just appeared in the house. In fact, I’d recommend getting them involved with choosing everything – we’ve found you get fewer comebacks that way!”
James, 36, dad to Lily-Jo, 6
“We had terrible problems getting Summer to accept a potty – she hated it and would scream the house down whenever we plonked her on it. In the end a friend suggested we try a musical potty and, Io and behold, that worked an absolute treat. She took to it as soon as it started playing and the only problem then was keeping her off the thing!”
Pete, 27, dad to Summer, 3
“I know it’s probably not the best technique – and I’m sure child psychologists hate it – but we discovered that the only way to encourage our son Jack to use the potty was to allow him to look at his favourite picture book whenever he went for a poo. My wife thought it was hilarious, saying he obviously took after me when it came to having something to read when he was taking a dump! Worked a treat when he was being stubborn though so it’s well worth a try.”
Dan, 30, dad to Vinni, 3 and Poppy, 2
Give credit where it’s due
“Like everything else with little kids, I reckon the secret is to offer lots and lots of praise when they get it right. We were very conscious of telling our kids how clever and grown up they were whenever they used the loo properly. Mind you, it can backfire – on one occasion our daughter rushed downstairs to tell us and three of my work colleagues – that she’d done a ‘really big one’ and did I want to come and see it before she flushed?”
Jaye, 36, dad to Miranda, 7 and Jack, 4
Chart their progress
“We tried lots of things to get Victoria to use the potty and the only think that worked was a special chart we attached to the fridge. On it was a picture of a hill and we moved a magnetic cat she loved up the hill every time she used the potty properly. When the cat got to the top of the hill she got a special present. Then the cat went back down the hill. We carried that on pretty much until she got bored of it, though she still carried on using the potty.”
Otto, 30, dad to Victoria, 3