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- Check for signs of readiness. Does your child keep a diaper dry for more than two hours? He may be ready. Does he like to wear the potty on his head like a hat? He may not be.
- Help your child feel comfortable. Let him run around naked with the potty nearby. Allow him to take a toy or his lovey with him on the potty.
- Resist the urge to follow him around wearing rain boots and carrying a mop.
- Set up a routine. Try to get your child to go potty every hour.
- Make it fun. Dance and cheer. Perhaps sing a song to signal it's time to go, like the theme to Dinosaur Train! (Pteranodon impressions optional.)
- Try the M&M's Method: two M&M's for trying to go potty, three M&M's for going, and five M&M's to Mommy for her fantastic cheering.
- When none of this seems to work, wonder if a potty is like a plant. Will talking to it help it reach its potential?
- Find reading material potty might enjoy to pass the time.
- Try method acting, thinking the way Daniel Day-Lewis would when approaching a role. What's the potty's motivation? How does the potty feel?
- Do your best to stay in potty character at all times.
- Realize that for your child to go potty, you must sing the Dinosaur Train! theme three times, pick out all the yellow M&M's, cheer, and jump, all while preventing TP unrollage and keeping the lovey from being drowned in the grown-ups' toilet.
- Reconsider your routine.
- Find out if your gym membership is tax deductible. After all, the M&M's Method is taking its toll and potty training is now your profession.
- Try the Socratic Method, asking the potty a series of questions to determine its beliefs. What happens if my child still wears diapers in college? How was Mrs. Pteranodon able to potty train three baby pteranodons?
- Decide instead that the potty is the Oracle of Delphi and your entire future will be determined by its wisdom.
- Get frustrated when the potty not only refuses to tell you the future but also leaks all over the floor.
- Start seeing diaper shapes everywhere you go. In architecture, grilled-cheese sandwiches, constellations in the night sky.
- Have dream that you and the potty are playing chess. "You will never defeat me!" the potty cackles as it captures your queen.
- Decide to stop trying so hard. Give up the M&M's.
- Whenever someone asks you how the potty training is going, quickly change the subject.
- Notice that your child is completely potty trained! It was just a matter of his really wanting to do it.
- Do a small boogie.
*Well, it certainly felt like 243.
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Parents magazine.