Potty training is a tricky process, but how do you know when the time is right? Jessica Hartshorn, Sr. Lifestyles Editor of American Baby Magazine, has some tips.
First, keep in mind that potty training doesn't happen overnight. Some kids are trained in a weekend; others take months to be fully trained.
Some kids just aren't ready to use the potty at a young age. It's your job to watch for readiness. "I would say don't start before two - because you need them to be able to say, "I have to go," and you need them to be able to recognize that feeling... and that actually comes closer to three," says Hartshorn. Starting too early can lead to delays.
Remember, too, that kids won't decide to use the potty on their own. You need to motivate them. Keep in mind that this is a big change for them and it make take some getting used to. To help them get excited about it, buy them their own potty and show tell them it's just for them. Make it a present and act like it's the best thing you've ever given them. Buy them "big boy" or "big girl" underwear with their favorite cartoon character on them. The more enthusiasm you show, the happier your child will be with the process.
In the same respect, don't criticize your child if they have an accident. They're learning! Remember that you are their cheerleader. A good cheerleader doesn't chastise a team for losing a game - they only yell out positive messages. It's going to take time for your child to adjust. In the mean time, encourage them. "You can't act crushed - that's going to make them say, 'Just give me the diaper, because I don't want you to get mad at me, Mommy!'" says Hartshorn.
Also, never underestimate the power of rewards. While many parenting books advise against rewarding everyday behavior, potty training is one time to make an exception. Some parents choose to reward their child with a small piece of candy after each successful day; others decide to give bigger gifts, like a trip to the movies or a new toy, after an accident-free week. Whatever you choose, don't overdo it. Some children will pretend to use the toilet just to get another handful of jellybeans.
Finally, have realistic expectations, especially when it comes to night time training. "Night time training can take a whole year past once their daytime training [is finished]," says Hartshorn. Don't be afraid to ask for help, either. Enlist the help of your daycare provider or junior's grandparents - afterall, they've been through this too.
For more information on potty training your toddler, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.
By Erin Petrun
Copyright 2008 CBS. All rights reserved.