1. Ready: When I talk with parents about potty training, I often hear comments like, “I’m going to work on that this summer when I’m off” or “I’ll start right after the next baby when grandma comes.” Too often, parents think about potty training as a one-time event to be worked on at a given time. Potty training would be less burdensome if you think of it as a milestone to be achieved over time with practice like walking, eating with a spoon, and talking. Watch for signs of readiness in your child. If you see the signs, the time to start preparing is now!

2. Prepare: According to child behavioral specialist Dr. Barton Schmitt, preparation is the first step in potty training. Tips for preparing your child for potty training include introducing a potty chair and a potty training aid like Potty Duck. Teaching the vocabulary (pee and poop) and pointing our the body’s signals (“looks like your pooping”) are further examples. I encourage parents to start young (15 months) when children are eager to imitate.

3. Practice: After preparing, start incorporating sitting on the potty chair (potty sits) into your daily routine just like the high chair or the crib….potty sits when you wake, potty sits after naps, and potty sits after playing in the bath or the sink with Potty Duck. You are de-mystifying the process for your child when you do this by making it a normal part of his or her routine and all children love routines! Once sitting on the potty is routine watch for your child’s signals for the need to go and take advantage of it!

Forcing or pressuring a child won’t work with potty training any more than with eating. When you place your child in the highchair, your child decides what and how much to eat, but you decide which healthy foods to put on the plate. The same goes for potty training. Give your child the tools (like Potty Duck) to figure it out and everyone will be happier for it.

By Shelly Mann MD