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Potty Training and Your Preschooler

Tips for helping your preschooler master potty training.
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Stay Positive, Be Consistent continued...

Be patient. Understand that this will be a time commitment for parents and caregivers that you need to commit to -- each trip to the bathroom could be several minutes, Wolraich says. But keep in mind that if your child says he’s done, he’s done, even if he hasn’t gone yet. You can wait and try again later when your child is ready and willing.

Stay calm. “The biggest mistake I see parents making is to worry,” Wolraich says. “They think that if their child is not trained by a certain age it’s going to be a problem or going to be a reflection on them as parents.” Almost all kids eventually learn to use the bathroom, so relax, stay calm, don’t waste time worrying, and enjoy and celebrate the achievement when it happens.

Don’t give up. Once you start, don’t stop. “It can be really frustrating,” Ezman says. “Especially when they have accidents after a period of doing well. But you have to hang in there and be positive -- don’t go back to diapers or you are just setting your child back.”

Diapers be gone. “A couple of weeks into potty training, just throw out your diapers,” Ezman says. “Otherwise you’re using them as a crutch and it will just prolong the process.”

Potty Training Pitfalls

Despite your best efforts, potty training can have its setbacks, and it’s during these pitfalls that parents panic the most. Before you reach for the diaper bag, here are the most common challenges potty training preschoolers and parents face.

Bedwetting. It’s normal. Kids, especially younger kids, are deep sleepers, and they can easily sleep through the urge to go to the bathroom. So use nighttime pull-ups until they are fully potty trained, and don't panic if it takes until they are 4 or even 5 to make it through the night.

Accidents will happen. Just anticipate that accidents are part of the process -- it’s a given. If your child has an accident, tell her it’s OK and ask her to help you clean up -- a nonpunishing way for her to understand what’s happened, Wolraich suggests.

Regression. For kids who have a major life event -- her family moves, a new baby comes into the house, or her parents separate -- potty training regression can happen, Wolraich notes. In these situations, they might have lost the attention of their parents, so regression helps put them back in the spotlight. Or, the child’s stress is too overwhelming and the skills she’s mastered in the bathroom take a back seat. So as a parent, you need to be patient and continue working with your child on potty training -- it’s that simple.

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