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5 Steps to Toilet-Teaching Success

  1. Ease Into It
    To get your child used to the idea of the potty, start by letting her sit on it fully clothed while you explain what it's for. Try reading a book to her or singing a song to keep her sitting on the potty for a longer time.
  2. Start a Routine
    Once your child is comfortable with the potty, take him to use it when he shows signs of needing to urinate or have a bowel movement. You should also have him sit on the potty at regular intervals during the day: when he wakes up and about 20 minutes after meals and snacks. If he doesn't use it after a few minutes, take him off the potty. Don't worry if he has accidents or doesn't go in the potty very often at first.
  3. Praise Her Successes
    Be positive even if she's making slow progress. "That was a good job of pulling your pants down by yourself" or "I'm happy you told me that you needed to use the potty" will keep your child motivated. When she has accidents, clean them up in a matter-of-fact way, and don't criticize her.
  4. Be a Good Model
    Your child may be very curious about how other family members go to the bathroom. Let him observe an older sibling using the toilet, or let him stand in the bathroom with you while you use the toilet.
  5. Don't Push It
    If after several weeks, your child just doesn't seem interested or is getting frustrated, take a break for a while. It takes some children several rounds before they're really ready.

Copyright© 2004. Reprinted with permission from the June 2000 issue of Parents magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.