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Potty Training and Your Preschooler

Tips for helping your preschooler master potty training.

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.

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.”

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