Toilet Teaching Tactics

Creative Tips and Tactics

A New Way to Color
To get my son excited about standing up to urinate, we put a few drops of food coloring into the toilet bowl so he could see the water change color as he used it. We did the same thing with our daughter, but we sat her on the toilet backwards so she could see the colors.
Chapel Hill, NC

The Santa Solution
Sometimes it's the littlest things that encourage a child. Our daughter was 2 1/2, and although she had no problem peeing in the potty, she wouldn't try to have a bowel movement. After much begging and pleading from me, all it took was my husband walking into the bathroom and saying, "You can do it, Whitney. Even Santa goes in the potty!" Maybe because Christmas was right around the corner, she heard it loud and clear -- and potty-teaching was smooth sailing from then on.
Charlestown, NH

The Traveling Potty
When our daughter was first learning to use the potty, she would urinate before her nap but wait until we put her down in her crib to poop in her diaper. One day, I left her bottom bare and put her in the crib with the potty seat. (It was a sturdy type that couldn't tip over.) Sure enough, she used her potty. After following this schedule for several days, we moved the potty to the bathroom, and she had no problem adjusting.
Charlottesville, VA

Try Target Practice
When I was trying to teach my oldest son, my stepmother suggested that I put Cheerios in the toilet and challenge him to sink them. He thought it was so much fun that he was eager to go to the bathroom every time. Although I found myself constantly explaining to guests why we had a box of cereal in the bathroom, it really did work -- which is all that matters.
Deerfield, OH

Grandmother Knows Best
More than 30 years ago, when I was teaching my four children to use the potty, I had a trick that made the whole process very easy. I let my kids run around in underpants inside the house and, if it was summertime, outside in the yard as well. Not having regular pants on makes kids more aware when they're wet; fewer clothes also means it's easier for a child to get to the potty on time -- and there's less laundry for the parents when accidents happen. I've helped my children train several of their own kids using this same method, and it still works like a charm!
Hamden, CT

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.

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