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Potty Training 101 – Tips From A Mom Who’s Done It 3 Times

June is National Potty Training Month and in honor of that, I’ve decided to begin potty training my youngest son, who is two. I know potty training is a common struggle for parents with special needs children so I’m going to take some time to share all the tips that have helped me to successfully potty train my first two children, and hopefully soon, my third.

This post is sponsored by Pull-Ups but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Potty Training Tips from a Mom Who’s Done it 3 Times

Potty Training Readiness

There is no set age to begin potty training your child. Do not feel pressured to have them trained by a certain age, or worry if their peers seem to be trained before them. Watch for the following signs that your kiddo is ready to start potty training:

  • Pulling at their wet/dirty diaper
  • Hiding when they pee or poop
  • Interested in others using the washroom
  • Starting to go longer periods of time with a dry diaper
  • Waking up dry from a nap
  • Telling you when they’re about to go, or when they’ve just gone.

When I was invited to write this sponsored post for Pull-ups, I agreed right away because my son does everything on the list. Just recently, he started hiding when he poops, and he always takes his diaper off when it’s wet.

If your child is doing some or all of the above, they may be ready to begin too!

When to Switch From Diapers to Pull-Ups?

If your child meets all the milestones on the list, and you’ve decided it’s time to begin potty training, the first thing you need to do is get your soon-to-be big kid some pull-ups training pants.

Pull-ups have the best absorbency and leakage protection to withstand the frequent accidents that will happen in the early days of potty training. But they slide on and off like underwear, helping your child feel more independent.

Some potty training programs recommend skipping the training pants and going straight to underwear – but pull-ups are a great way to smoothly make the transition between diapers and big-kid underwear.

Kid’s with special needs who struggle with making transitions will benefit from taking this change one small step at a time. Trying to make the switch to quickly could cause them to regress, extending the process.

By the way, when you purchase pull-ups on Amazon, you can save 20% with subscribe and save.  I’ve used subscribe and save for the past two years: first for diapers and wipes, and now for pull-ups.

Familiarize Your Child With The Potty

Get your child comfortable with the idea of sitting on the potty, and understanding that big kids use the potty instead of diapers. 

We spent a lot of time listening to kids songs about the potty on YouTube together and reading children’s books about toilet training as well. It may help to create your own social story about potty training or let your kiddo decorate their potty with their favorite stickers.

Take your child with you to the washroom and explain to them what you are doing. Allow them to flush the toilet for you. Celebrate using the toilet for your child to see “Yay!!! Mommy did it!!”

You can also use your child’s favorite toy and pretend it’s using the potty. I put a pull up on my son’s toy Bunga from the Lion Guard (The pull up even had the Lion Guard design) and then I played with my son and Bunga by pretending we were helping him go to the potty.

Go To The Potty – Frequently

If you can, choose a time to begin potty training where you won’t need to leave the house for a few days. In the beginning, you want to get your child on the potty frequently – every 20 to 30 minutes. This is much easier to do if you’re at home.

Set a timer to go off at regular intervals so you remember when it’s potty time. Get your kiddo to pull down their pull-ups themselves and sit down on the potty.

Positive Reinforcement

Make sure you use tons of positive reinforcement in the beginning, even if your child isn’t actually pooping or peeing in the potty – give positive reinforcement for trying, every single time they sit on the potty, show your child you’re excited about it and proud of them.

Ignore Accidents and Reward Success

Have a small reward ready (like in your hand ready) for when your child successfully uses the potty. We are currently using gummy bears. Stickers and small candies are both great options. Whatever you choose – make sure using the potty is the only way your child can earn that reward.

Use first then statements to explain how the reward works. “First you pee on the potty, and then you get a gummy bear”

Celebrate enthusiastically when they use the potty as well. You should do everything you can to get your child excited about potty training. They will want to keep going in order to get the big, positive reaction from you again.

If your child does have an accident in their pull up don’t punish them, or scold them. It takes time for kids to learn to recognize the cues that their body sends to say it needs to go, and learning something new that’s such a big change can be difficult. (Read about why positive reinforcement and rewards work here).

You can talk to your child about how Pull-ups Learning Designs will fade away when they’re wet, and to try to keep their picture dry.

Be Consistent

Your kiddo thrives on consistency – so once you switch to pull-ups, don’t go back to diapers. Keep your new potty training routine consistency and move as slowly as you need to.

Help Your Child Recognize When They Need To Go

Sometimes, it’s challenging for children with sensory processing challenges to recognize their body’s cues. Help your child understand how it feels inside their body when they need to use the washroom. Once they get a sense of their body’s cues it’ll be easier to use the potty successfully.

Say things like “I know when I need to use the bathroom because it feels tight in my belly. I have to squeeze my belly from the inside to stop the poop or pee from coming. Do you ever feel your poop or pee coming?”

You can explain to them that it may help to gently push on their tummy to check, and see if they can feel it in there. Try printing out the mapping my feelings printable and showing where the feeling of needing to go is in your belly.

Don’t Rush Nighttime Training

Even after a child is completely potty trained during the day, it can take time before they’re able to stay dry during the night as well. It’s normal for children to wet the bed even until 6 years old. Don’t rush nighttime training.

If your child frequently wets the bed, continue to use pull-ups at night even after you’ve transitioned to regular underwear during the day. Waking up wet can be frustrating and hurtful to a child’s confidence so it’s much better to keep them in their pull-up until they are ready for regular underwear, and never make them feel guilty about having an accident.

What If Potty Training Isn’t Working?

If you’ve been trying potty training without any success it may be best to take a break. Sometimes even kids who show all the signs of being ready to potty train just aren’t quite there yet.

It’s important to keep potty training a positive experience that your child feels good about. If they aren’t getting the hang of things and starting to use the potty after a week, consider taking a break from potty training and trying again in 4-6 weeks.

Your child will get there when they’re ready.

Visit Amazon to order your Pull-ups now!  Which of the Learning Designs are your kiddos favorite? Let me know in the comments!

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Henry Killingsworth

Tuesday 19th of November 2019

I like that you talked about how it is important to help your children recognize the feelings their body is giving them when they need to use the restroom. My wife and I are about to start potty training our son, but we aren't sure how to help him understand that it is okay to use restrooms in public. I think some kind of disposable seat cover would be really helpful for potty training our son.