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Potty Training and Your Preschooler

Tips for helping your preschooler master potty training.
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Ready for Potty Training continued...

Developmentally. A child needs to be ready for autonomy and say, “I want to do this myself,” Berman says. She needs to be independent enough to take care of her own potty needs.

Socially. A child needs to be aware that others are using the toilet and want to imitate that behavior, which can happen once they hit preschool and why sometimes, a second child may learn faster than her first-born sibling.

When a child has developed enough to reach these milestones, it's up to the parents to watch for signs that their little one is ready for the next step.

Potty Training Clues

Generally, your kids will offer you subtle -- and not so subtle -- clues that they are ready and willing to start the process of potty training. Your job is to make sure you notice them.

When your privacy goes out the window. If your child is constantly asking to go to the bathroom with you -- let him. Showing him how it’s done is part of the process of learning, Wolraich says.

Verbal clues. Does your daughter tell you before she’s going pee or poop? This is an obvious clue. Use it to your advantage and let your child use the bathroom instead of a diaper, suggests Wolraich, who is also the editor of the American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training. If she tells you after, start talking to her about telling you before she needs to go.

Non-verbal clues. Usually when a child is getting ready to go to pee or have a bowel movement in a diaper they look for some privacy, or quiet down as they get ready to go. This is a sign parents have to watch for and anticipate.

Gender isn’t always a clue. Although many parents think girls may have a slight edge in terms of timing, that’s not always the case. Parents shouldn’t fall into the trap of waiting until their child hits a certain age to start, regardless if their child is a boy or a girl, Berman says. If your child is shows and says he’s ready, get out the toilet training seat.

Stay Positive, Be Consistent

Like every skill a preschooler tries to master, this one takes time. For parents, staying positive and keeping your eye on the prize -- no more diapers! -- is the trick. Here are tips from experts and a mom whose child recently conquered potty training:

Positive reinforcement. Reinforce when your child is successful each and every time she uses the bathroom, but never punish when she’s not, Berman says.

Be consistent. Create a regular schedule throughout the day when you can give your child some time on the toilet, suggests Wolraich, such as when he gets up in the morning, before preschool starts if he attends in the morning, when he gets home, before dinner, and before bath and bedtime. Also, talk to your child’s preschool teachers so they can help with the process. They’ve probably been through this before with other children, and can offer some support.

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