Parenting Pro: Advice to help a mom potty train her son in time for preschool

Parenting is rarely smooth sailing. For the big problems, we seek guidance from pediatricians, counselors or other professional advisors. But for the everyday matters — those “how-to” questions that nag us and the non-emergency “glitches” — we turn to our parenting peers. In this issue, our readers lend their guidance with potty training.

Q: My 2-and-a-half year old will need to be potty trained to start his preschool program in the fall. Any tips?

A: Start potty training when you have three-four days to devote just to training! The first day go straight to undies (or bare bottom!). Give them lots to drink and bring them to the toilet every 20-30 minutes. (Set a timer if you need to.) Depending on the child, you can give a reward for trying. Expect accidents! If you stay consistent for three-four days and it’s still not working, back off and try again in two-three weeks. Give plenty of praise and remember to stay patient. (You may want to stock up on wine for an after bedtime “wine down,” for yourself!) -Cristy Keiner

A: Have you seen the “My Size Potty?” [editor’s note: by Summer Infant, it’s a  potty designed to look, feel and sound like a grown-up toilet.] It’s adorable! Set the child on the potty as soon as they wake up, after every meal, whenever you go, after snacks, drinks, and before baths and bed. Have them try to sit there long enough to sing their ABCs and offer rewards if they succeed. Do not have them wear diapers while training. It doesn’t take long. -Susan Biddle

A: I started at age 2. I used a sticker chart for when my children peed. When we moved on to #2, I used a potty prize system… I eventually just stayed at home as much as I could for a few weeks to a month and kept the children in underwear. No training pants. Being at home and keeping a routine while wearing big boy undies helped a lot. Good luck. It is definitely a different process for each child. Every child learns differently. -Laura Barrett Bush

A: I used a timer for all three of my kids. My son wasn’t able to communicate when I potty trained him; I thought it was going to be tough, but it wasn’t by using the timer. At the time he loved anything that had to do with farms. I found on my phone a rooster crow. So every time the rooster crowed it was potty time. Do not use pull-ups at all. I feel they defeat the purpose, allowing kids to pee their pants. Maybe use them at night only. I never used awards for my kids, we would just cheer and dance…they loved it! -Lauren Kelly

A: There really are no tricks—when a child is ready, they are ready. Don’t make it stressful. In fact, make it fun. One way to make it fun is to buy one of the blue toilet bowl drop-in cleaners and tell them if they pee in the water, they can make it turn green. -Katryn Heintz Dougherty

A: Find a new preschool program. It should be natural, not forced. You will know when your child is ready—not by a predetermined date on a calendar. -Justine Zaccaria

Join the conversation! Look for our Parenting Pro questions on Facebook. Please note: not all responses will appear in the magazine, and responses that do appear may be edited for length and style.

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