How do I survive potty training my child?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

Potty training marks a transition towards independence in the life of a child. Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Ask the Lord for guidance in all that you do, for He will provide you the direction to lead your child. Seek the Lord in all that you do! He is our ever-present help in time of need.

Remember to look at your child in love and with patience. Accidents will happen, and grace is needed. This time is not only stressful for you but the child as well. Hebrews 12:11, "No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it." During the process, you and your son or daughter maybe become frustrated, but in the end, your child will have learned much of self-discipline. Be patient and calm with your child, they will master potty training.

Things to think about:

When attempting to start potty training your child, you must first determine if your child is ready to begin this process. This time will be more beneficial if your child is interested in beginning to learn how to go to the bathroom. Children that are asking to be changed or letting you know that they have a dirty diaper would most likely be able to start potty training. At that point, your child understands that the feeling of being "dirty" is uncomfortable.

Keep potty training fun! Don't forget that kids want to succeed and do good. This is a difficult challenge for them. Try using candies or stickers for a reward when your child goes potty in the toilet. This will give them a sense of accomplishment and they will want to go again! Make sure that you are not making more than one big change in your child's life at a time. It would be wise not to try and potty train and move them into a big kid bed all at the same time.

What do I do now?

Here are some tips for successful potty training:

  • There are several good books on potty training; books for parents, as well as books for the children, are helpful for everyone.
  • Keep a positive and loving attitude! This will set them up for success.
  • Bring the potty chair to them. Have fun decorating a potty chair and placing it where they spend most of their time. Some children are more successful with potty chairs. These can be taken with you from room to room so there is always a potty near. Other children are more successful going straight to the bathroom.
  • Schedule potty breaks for them. About every 20-40 minutes they will need to go! Even if they do not, praise them for trying and come back to try again later.
  • When you see signs that your child needs to go potty, get to the bathroom fast! Help them to stop and recognize these body signals.
  • Celebrate big when they are potty trained!
  • Praise them continually! This is encouraging for them.
  • When your child has mastered this, "throw" the diapers away. They need to see that the diaper is no longer an option for them. Pull-ups are a good option as most children sleep so soundly that they will not be woken up by the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom. Using pull ups at night time will not reverse any potty training that you have done. Once your son or daughter wakes up consistently with a dry pull up, then begin to transition out of the night time protection to underwear.

Remember that your child will have accidents, and this is ok! It is all a part of the process in potty training your child. Commit to handling these times with love, patience, positive reinforcement and consistency.

If potty training is not working well, do not be afraid to stop and take a break. The child might not be ready yet. Forcing them will not help the process. If they are too young or you find out that they are just not ready, quit for a while and come back to it.

Want to go deeper?

-Jensen, Lora. (2009). 3 Day Potty Training; Start Friday, Done Sunday! eBook.An excellent book recommended to me by a pastor's wife. She has used this method to potty train two of her children and plans on using this with her third.

-Moroney, Christopher. (2014). P is for Potty; Sesame Street. New York, NY: Random House Publishers.This is a fun book for parents to read with their children as they learn to use the toilet. Elmo helps his cousin learn about going to the potty.

This is a great website from a medical clinic on potty training. There are some great suggestions and how to get the job done!