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The Don'ts of Potty Training

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Mother potty training daughter (2-3)
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Potty training can be a trying experience at times. It's important to make sure your toddler feels supported and that you uphold a positive attitude to ensure success. Here are some things to avoid.

Don't try to force the issue
Make sure that your child is ready to use the potty, is able to communicate his needs and can handle the physical requirements involved before starting. Always offer encouragement and support. If your child refuses to go, forcing him to go and sit on the potty will only create a charged atmosphere and can lead to more resistance. It can create negative associations with using the bathroom that can be hard to undo, and can also cause your child to withhold urinating or voiding, which can be harmful. Try to approach this time of learning much the same as you did with other skills like sitting up, walking and talking.

Don't start potty training during a time of stress
Even good stress is bad stress when it comes to potty training. Marriages, new babies, vacations can be just as difficult for your child as a divorce, death or move to a new home. If anything big and new is on the horizon in your lives, reconsider potty training. Wait until life settles down and the normal flow of activity resumes. This creates security for your child and helps him place toileting easily alongside other structure and routines.

Don't set deadlines or try to accomplish training in a set number of days
Young children don't work too well under deadlines and they certainly don't have the same concept of time that adults do. Be realistic with your time expectations, or throw them out the window altogether. Programs that promise that your child will be potty trained in three days, one day or even 100 days aren't taking your child's individuality into account. Each child has his own temperament and brings different skills to the table, so there is no true one-size-fits-all method out there. Programs that operate under a time schedule often suggest punitive measures, are inflexible or are actually training the parents instead of the child. This sets many parents and children who don't meet the deadline up for a feeling of failure. In addition they may not take into consideration the many different lifestyles of families, which include parents who work, families with many children, children with special needs, multiples and parents who share custody. Make sure any method you use fits the needs of everyone involved and is flexible.

Don't treat accidents like a big deal
One of the cornerstones of potty training methods that work is: It's just a part of life. It's natural and every living animal from apes to zebras do it every day. Accidents happen, and when they do, this is just part of the process. Overemphasizing accidents can actually reinforce, leading to more accidents. So keep the tone even and matter-of-fact, enlist your child in clean-up activity and move on to the next opportunity to use the potty.

Don't use clothes that are difficult for you or your child to manage
Ask any child care teacher who is in charge of a group of potty trainees and they will tell you just how difficult it can be for little arms and hands to manipulate complicated pants, overalls and other clothing when the urge to pee or poop is looming. Ask too what a task it is to re-outfit a child who has had an accident wearing those garments. First and foremost, use your child's motor skills as a gauge when choosing clothes during potty training. Shy away from overalls unless your child is adept at removing them and putting them back on. The same is true for suspenders, belts, tights, one-piece shirts that snap at the crotch and anything with lots of zippers, snaps, buttons or other fasteners that might be unfamiliar to your child. Clothing that works: Dresses, skirts, pants with elastic waistbands like sweatpants, pajama bottoms and shorts. Of course, if you're comfortable with it, letting your child run around in just underwear or in the nude is the ultimate potty training outfit.

Since winter in cold areas is a time of layers and bundling and heavy coats, most experts and parents agree that it's not the optimal time to start potty training. However, when potty training in the summer, the boys have it made with their drop-and-go trunks, but the girls will have issues with one-piece suits. Moms who have ever gone to the bathroom and tried to pull up and resituate a wet suit on themselves can identify, I'm sure. Consider two-piece swimsuits for the little ladies.

Related Video
Potty Training Preparedness
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